How to ace your talent development [Top benefits & strategies for tech]
According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Trends report, 94% of employees say they’d stay longer with companies who invest in their professional development. This demonstrates the importance of having the right talent development strategy in place – downplaying it will have serious business consequences.
In the following article, we’re going to address two questions: what is talent development, and what employee development strategies you can apply to your company? We will also share with you the primary benefits associated with talent development planning. Before we begin, if you’d like to know more about how your company can implement an effective talent development strategy, check out TalentBoost, our unique learner engagement tool.
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What is talent development – definition
Talent development is the bulk of HR activities focused on developing your employees’ soft and hard skills and making the most of their potential. It should aim to provide your employees with skills development paths that align with their career plans and boost their motivation.
While talent development is important in all industries, with the soaring competition for tech talent, it has become especially important for companies hiring IT specialists. Namely, in order to keep your tech employees engaged and invested in your company, you must provide them with the right opportunities for growth.
A well-designed talent development strategy will result in multiple advantages, which we discuss in the next section.
Benefits of talent development planning
Developing talent in the workplace is linked with many benefits, let’s take a look at the most common ones.
Boosting employee retention
It’s much more cost-effective to retain your current employees than it is to hire new ones – especially in tech. According to Glassdoor, an average company in the US spends $4000, which translates into 24 days of talent search, to bring a new employee on board. If you lose employees regularly, then not only can it destabilize your business due to productivity and financial losses, but it can also create bad PR for your organization. All of which might negatively impact your future recruitment efforts.
Increasing team performance and productivity
According to the American Psychology Association, “motivation is a critical lever for talent development”. Firstly, through implementing the right talent development plan, your employees will see where their careers are heading, which will make them more motivated to perform at their best. Secondly, if you prioritize transparency in your communication with the team, employees will see how their work contributes to company goals. As a result, they will better understand their role in your organization and will be more inclined to identify as part of the team.
Closing skills gaps
By paying close attention to your team’s current skills inventory, you’ll be able to decide whether you need to hire new employees for the skills you’re lacking or, rather, support your current employees in acquiring new ones through training. One way of doing so, as discussed further in this article, is by using a skills gap analysis tool like TalentBoost, which will help you create your team’s competency maps.
Furthermore, while it might not be the first thing that comes to mind, closing talent gaps can also result in a lot of savings for the business. The ROI of talent development can be quite impressive – as reported by CIO, unfilled job vacancies can be costing companies a staggering $20.1 billion in lost business in the US alone.
Lowering recruitment costs (and saving your HR team’s time)
Last, but not least, closing skills gaps can also lower recruitment costs. If you discover that you can fill skills gaps internally, for example, by helping your regular developers become senior specialists, you will save all the costs associated with sourcing and recruiting talent externally. As a result, your HR department will be able to focus their time and effort on other initiatives.
Now that we’ve discussed the top talent development benefits, it’s time to take a look at the strategies you can implement for your business.
8 steps to building your talent development strategy for tech
Strategy 1: Leadership and talent development – get management onboard
Leadership and talent development are closely intertwined. As explained by Michael Page, “…leaders also function as role models, as bosses are always being observed. Supervisors who need something from their employees that they themselves won’t do quickly lose their credibility.” In order for a long-lasting employee engagement and development program to work, your managers, team leaders, and even the C-suite executives all need to be on the same page. It cannot be an effort confined to the HR team.
Strategy 2: Set your organization’s goals
When it comes to developing talent, it’s crucial that your strategy is linked to your organizational goals. Your management and C-level executives should discuss where the business wants to be in the next couple of years. Consider the organization’s mission and then look at the tech stack you’re currently using.
Using a tool like TalentBoost will help you easily map the skills that are available at your organization, as well as find those which need to be developed. You can then find developers within your business who will quickly pick up the missing skills and include them in their talent development plan.
Strategy 3: Conduct a skills gap analysis to understand your current skills’ levels & which skills you must (genuinely) hire for
In order to have a successful employee development strategy in place, you must have a detailed understanding of which skills your organization has and which ones are missing. Out of the skills that you lack, you need to decide whether to develop them internally or acquire externally.
Therefore, to kickstart your talent development planning, we highly recommend that you use a talent management system like TalentBoost. Firstly, run a skills gap audit to verify which skills your team has and which skills are lacking. We recommend combining skills analysis methods, such as work sample coding tests with face-to-face interviews with team leaders and specific employees.
For instance, if you want to start using React Native at your company, you can ask your developers who declare they possess some level of knowledge on the subject to take a work sample React Native test. You can also evaluate their soft skills during an interview (for example, assess their willingness to learn, proactivity, leadership skills, etc.). All of this will give you a good overview of who your current team members are.
Strategy 4: See if you can close your skills gaps internally
After you’ve conducted a thorough skills gap analysis, you will be able to see skills on a per-employee and per-team level.
Going back to the previous example with React Native developers, if you find that three of your current iOS and Android developers have a medium-level of expertise in React Native, you might be able to omit hiring altogether. Instead, you will need to define a career development path aimed at upskilling your current employees.
Talent management solutions like TalentBoost (pictured above) offers features suggesting the skills that would be easy to learn based on your organization’s current listed skills. Using it will help you better define your hiring needs, making your recruitment process both more efficient and cost-effective.
Strategy 5: Develop career paths
Career paths are a long-term and complex effort – not one that can be solved by organizing a single training session. In order to ensure your team’s quick skills’ progression, you need to offer them a way to use their newly acquired knowledge in practice.
Encourage your employees to apply new skills whenever possible. If you can’t offer them the opportunity to implement them in your real-life, operational projects, you can always organize internal events such as hackathons or training sessions.
Such activities can additionally serve as a way to integrate your tech team.
Source: StepStone Services Facebook
As you monitor your employees’ career path advancements, make sure to schedule regular meetings to discuss their process. This will be a great opportunity to collect feedback on the employee development plan and to ask them whether there’s anything they feel they could benefit from.
We also recommend that you use a tool like DevSkiller TalentScore to reassess employee skills after a given period of time – for instance after they’ve completed a training or any other skill development program.
Strategy 6: Hire for skills lacking in your team
Let’s once again return to your skills analysis’ findings (mentioned in Strategy 3). If you learn that none of your employees have the necessary skills or motivation to learn a given technology, your next steps will be clear. Namely, you’ll need to look for talent outside of your organization.
The good news is you won’t be wasting time on acquiring employees you don’t genuinely need. As you’ve made sure that you don’t have hidden talent within your company, each new hire will be a great addition to the team.
Without a doubt, some roles are easier to fill than others due to the tech stack and responsibilities that come with the role. Is there any technology that is currently on the rise? Or maybe there’s a coding language you are seeing a big interest in among developers on the market (which would mean it would potentially be easier to find employees to work for you)?
Source: Stack Overflow
Strategy 7: Encourage your team’s proactivity
Create a company culture that promotes openness among employees. One way of doing so, as mentioned earlier in this article, is making sure transparency runs in your organization’s DNA. For instance, Buffer has not only disclosed information on employee salaries and their annual revenue but has also made public their equity formula along with an individual, per-employee breakdown.
While not all companies will be equally comfortable with disclosing internal information, Buffer serves as a great example of how leadership encourages openness and proactivity among the team. The bottom line, you should ensure that your team members feel comfortable with coming up and sharing their business-related initiatives.
For example, if an employee sees that there’s a new up-and-coming technology on the market they believe will be a breakthrough, they should be able to bring it up in a team meeting or in their assessment meetings with HR or their direct manager. Insights like these may be invaluable when you discuss your organization’s mission and plans with management and the C-suite.
Remember – an organization that puts talent development at the forefront will also receive good PR among the tech community, which will boost your employee branding efforts.
Strategy 8: Constantly evaluate your talent management program
Last, but not least, remember that your company is a ‘living organism’. Namely, the skills inventory you create for your teams is in constant flux. As time goes by, people learn new things, attend training, get promoted, and – most importantly – old employees leave and new hires join.
Keep track of the changes and make sure your talent development efforts work towards the talent-related goals you’ve established. Here’s how simple it is to see changes if you use TalentBoost:
Developing talent in the workplace should be on every organization’s priority list. Not only does effective talent development improve employee retention and boost team performance, but it also helps with closing any recruitment gaps. Making sure that your strategy is linked with organizational goals, getting your management team on board, and continuously evaluating your talent management efforts are only a few steps necessary for effective talent development.
One very effective way of keeping track of your talent development strategy is using the right tools to monitor your employees’ skills and career paths. By using a solution like TalentBoost, among others, you’ll be able to create competency maps, monitor your team’s proficiency levels in various technologies, and review your employees’ career progress.
Reach out if you’d like to find out more about how you can create your talent development program and upskill your employees!
Image credit: Pexels