The Importance of Talent Development in Today’s Labor Market

Posted by Des Sinkevich on February 8, 2022

In 2020, the economy was shaken by historically high unemployment rates and there didn’t seem to be enough jobs for everyone who was laid off at the start of the pandemic. The unemployment rate peaked in April 2020 at 14.8%, but with summer ahead and COVID-19 vaccinations being approved for more Americans, recovery seemed only a few short months away. And while the economy has recovered - the unemployment rate dropped to a much more reasonable 3.9% by December 2021 – we're now facing a new challenge to stability: an unprecedented worker shortage.

Called the Great Resignation, the Big Quit, or even the Great Reshuffling, the current labor shortage isn’t simply explained by just saying “no one wants to work.” A variety of factors have played a role in our current economic state, from workers in some industries deciding to completely change careers and seek higher hourly pay, to those who chose to retire early. But how do companies address the motivations behind the changing workforce while attracting new employees and retaining current ones? While there are a variety of strategies to improve retention and hiring, one of the most effective is often investing in talent development.

supervisor speaking with construction worker.

How talent development programs make an impact

While a quick fix for our economy’s current state would be ideal, patching up outdated systems and strategies will only have short-term results. Instead, focusing efforts on longer-term solutions that benefit both employers and employees can be the most effective. One reliable method for improving outcomes, increasing productivity, and reducing turnover is a dedicated talent development and education benefits program.

Today, investing in a program to upskill and reskill your workers isn’t just a nice perk to attract new employees, it's vital to recovery, growth, and success. Over time, a strong program can

  • Increase retention. Investing in talent development is proven to increase employee retention. In fact, according to a LinkedIn workplace learning report, 94% of employees are more likely to stay at their current company longer if their employer invests in their career growth.
  • Grow productivity. When employees have the skills they need to complete their tasks effectively and are happy with their employer, they’re often more productive. Companies that invest in upskilling see a 6-12% increase in the overall productivity of their staff.
  • Create an internal talent pool. As employees do retire or decide to leave, having a strong talent pool from which to promote can make a difference in how well your company and employees adjust to changes. And, considering 4.5 million people voluntarily left their jobs in November, preparing to weather staffing changes is important to retaining the workers that haven’t left – yet. A talent development program can help your workers develop the necessary skills to take on leadership roles or perform higher-skilled jobs within the company.
  • Increase the number of applicants. In a time when companies across all industries are feeling the impact of a labor shortage and are struggling to receive the number of job applicants they need, talent development opportunities can be attractive for potential hires who are looking for a new career.
  • Increase the number of accepted job offers. Aside from just attracting job applicants, offering talent development and education benefits can increase the likelihood that candidates accept your job offer. After launching an education program in April 2021, Waste Management received more applications from interested workers and made 420 job offers. 70% of those offers became employees.

How to implement an effective training program

The benefits of a talent development program are clear, but if you’ve never offered one in your company, you may be unsure where to start. First, it’s important to understand what you expect to get out of your training program and understand what your employees want. A training program doesn’t work if your employees aren’t engaged and if you don’t have certain outcomes for them in mind. Whether you want to focus strictly on education that directly benefits your company and prepares workers to take on leadership roles within your organization, or you want to offer training in a variety of fields, having a clear strategy when implementing your program can make all the difference.

Strategy for implementation of successful talent development programs includes

  • Marketing your program internally. Employee participation is vital for talent development programs to succeed. But workers can’t enroll in training if they don’t know it’s available. Even before launching your program, it’s important to ensure that workers and management know to expect it. You’ll want to hype up your staff and get them excited to take the next step in their career and education. Regular emails, informational posters, or information sessions to explain how the program works and what employees can look forward to can be helpful for a successful launch.
  • Setting expectations. Communicate clear expectations to employees. What do you want to see them get out of the program? How long do they have to complete their program? The more information they have, the more likely they’ll be ready to tackle their training.
  • Allowing workers to learn at work. Where possible, setting aside time for employees to work on their classes at work can help them complete their programs in a timely manner. According to the previously mentioned LinkedIn workplace report, 68% of employees prefer to learn at work and 58% prefer to learn at their own pace. Digital talent development programs allow you to offer a flexible, effective solution. Workers can take their studies on the go and complete their lessons on the schedule that works best for them and for you, as their employer.
  • Rewarding participation. You’re already offering a big benefit to your workers through free education and training opportunities, but further incentivizing employees to complete the program can boost engagement and participation. Rewards don’t necessarily need to be monetary – though reminders of a potential pay increase go a long way; rewarding participation and completion could be as simple as acknowledging the successes of employees in a companywide email or offering a paid day off.

Invest in talent development with a trusted training partner

No matter the size of your company, creating and implementing a talent development program internally can be difficult on your own. It doesn’t have to be with the help of a trusted training partner like Penn Foster. Through configurable program options, dedicated resources, and digital learning tools, Penn Foster can help your company grow its workforce and talent pool. To learn more about working with us, reach out to one of our training experts today!