The Importance of Talent Development as a Total Rewards Lever

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Skill development and career advancement are very important to most individuals. In order for the right talent to be attracted and retained, both candidates and employees must believe that the organization can offer a career path that provides the opportunities and exposure to assignments and projects necessary in developing their skills. Numerous research studies demonstrate that career advancement (or lack thereof) is important to employees in their decisions to either join or leave an organization.

Especially today, with the millennials and newer generations entering the workforce, employees are seeking to work in an environment where job and career opportunities are available, encouraged, and supported. High potential and high performing employees are especially sensitive in this regard.

Talent development is focused specifically on how to develop employees, and has to do with organizations providing learning opportunities and tools for employees to advance their skills, competencies, and overall careers. Talent development is one of the six critical elements in WorldatWork’s total rewards model, and serves as an important lever in the total rewards mix. Talent Development provides the opportunity and tools for employees to advance their skills and competencies in both their short- and long-term careers.

According to Mercer’s 2016 Global Talent Trends Study, 90% of organizations surveyed anticipate that the competition for talent will increase this year. The study found that a lack of development, outdated processes, and discontent with the role of managers are the three main drivers of worker dissatisfaction.

Types of talent development opportunities that companies offer include learning opportunities, like attendance at outside seminars and conferences, sabbaticals with the express purpose of acquiring specific skills, knowledge or experience, rotational assignments, and participating in or leading a major project, presentation or team; coaching/mentoring opportunities, such as leadership and management training, attendance and/or presentation at conferences outside of one’s area of expertise, and formal or informal mentoring programs (within or outside of one’s own organization); and advancement/career opportunities, which includes increased exposure outside one’s department, exposure in the community/professional association, publishing articles, and taking on overseas assignments.

Career development, for example, is consistently cited by employees as critical to their level of engagement with an organization and a key reason why they change jobs. The Hay Group's research has found that the biggest gap between employees planning to stay with a company and those planning to leave within 2 years was, "Confidence in ability to achieve my career objectives."

Having the right talent at the right time when it is needed to drive competitive advantage and deliver business results is critical to retention (especially of high-performers), but many employers seem to struggle in this regard. Hay Group's global employee opinion database reveals that a lack of career development opportunities is the No. 1 reason employees leave organizations.

The "Alternative Employee Rewards" survey indicate leaders are elevating and addressing this issue within their organizations and building career development into their broader total rewards strategies. Across all employee levels, career development programs are poised to see the biggest expansion in use during 2016. More than half of respondents indicated they intend to expand the use of career development programs across all employee levels, supporting the creation of a stronger bench of employees with the hard and soft skills needed to assume more challenging roles within organizations.

In evaluating an organization’s success in meeting their talent development objectives, here are a few questions that employers should ask themselves:

  • Are high performers leaving your organization? If so, why?
  • Do you have the right people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right time?
  • Are your employees prepared to meet the challenges for transitions in the organization before they happen?
  • Are talent development efforts aligned with business goals?
  • Are sufficient numbers of employees adequately developed to assume roles as they are vacated?

Total rewards professionals are challenged to meet employees’ demands and achieve a talent advantage for their company. Employees are looking for a new employee value proposition (EVP) that offers a greater combination of career support with flexibility to manage their work and gain additional skills.

Providing both professional and personal growth and development opportunities are a critical part of an organization’s toolkit for its attraction, motivation, retention, and employee engagement initiatives.

Is your organization on board with this?

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