Need a Talent Development Strategy? Take These 5 Practical Steps

Reskilling and upskilling have become popular terms in today’s corporate world—and for good reasons.

As technology continues to develop and companies become more innovative than ever, it’s important that the skills of the workforce keep up with these developments.

However, 87% of companies report that they are facing a skills gap now or will be by 2026.

Fortunately, there’s a fix to this situation. Creating an effective talent development strategy can help HR and business leaders future-proof their companies, ensuring their employees have the skills they need to improve their performance and that of the organization.

If you’re one of the overwhelming number of companies with skills shortages, learn how a good talent development program can help you overcome this problem to meet and exceed your goals.

What Is Talent Development?

Talent development is the process of aligning your employees' skills with your organization's goals—ensuring employees have the skills they need to succeed. (Talent management, on the other hand, is mostly concerned with attracting and retaining employees.)

Talent development focuses on helping employees build new skills to fill skills gaps throughout the organization. When these gaps are filled, the company has what it needs to pursue and meet its strategic objectives. This often involves creating a specific learning and development plan for each employee based on the skills they already have and the ones you need them to build.

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Why Talent Development Matters for Your Business

Talent development helps increase employee retention. 87% of Gen Z employees prefer to work for employers that offer employer-sponsored learning and development opportunities.

However, this attitude isn’t limited to younger employees. 86% of workers over the age of 40 and 76% of those over 50 want the job they choose to offer opportunities to learn new skills.
The good news is that 63% of employees want to upskill so they can perform better or advance in their current jobs—not so they can seek out a new one.

Offering talent development opportunities can help you both attract and retain your employees.

Talent development also connects your employees to your company’s overall mission. Employees involved in talent development initiatives often know they’re developing skills specifically to help the organization move forward. Research shows that a 10% improvement in employees’ connection to the mission can result in an 8.1% decrease in turnover.

That same 10% improvement in employees making connections between their work and the overall mission can improve business profitability by 4.4%. This means that a meaningful talent development program that shows employees how their work and skills matter in the achievement of company goals can help improve performance for both the employee and the business as a whole.

Finally, talent development matters because it supports a culture of continuous learning and ensures that education doesn’t get lost in transition. It can often address issues with succession planning, as it allows more experienced employees to transfer knowledge to their entry-level counterparts as they gain new skills.

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How to Create an Effective Talent Development Strategy

Talent development initiatives can only yield benefits when they’re designed effectively. It’s important that HR and business leaders take the following steps as they develop their talent development strategies.

1. Determine Goals

Before you can determine what skills you need to develop in your workforce, clarify what your company is trying to achieve. For example, do you need to increase sales? What about decreasing your time to market for new products? Would you like to develop more AI-based software? Knowing your overall goals and objectives is critical for developing the right strategy.

2. Identify Skills Gaps

Once you know your goals, figure out which skills you need in your workforce to achieve them. Then, comb through your list of employees and identify those whose skills are being underutilized and those with outdated skills that need upskilling or reskilling. This process will ensure that your employees are focused on developing the skills that matter to your mission.

3. Get Buy-In

Getting buy-in from company leadership ensures that the entire organization is aligned in the achievement of talent development goals. It gives senior executives the ability to gain a bird’s-eye view of the organization and chart a clear path to achieving the goals they set for the company.

Additionally, this alignment connects those in the C-suite to employees throughout the organization and helps them see and encourage individual contributions to the overall mission.

4. Provide Varied Opportunities

Make sure you’re providing learning opportunities that cater to your employees’ individual goals and your company’s future needs.

Additionally, training should be delivered in a way that makes sense for the skill (e.g., web development may need more hands-on training than project management) and helps employees retain the information. This might include courses, tuition reimbursement, or a mentorship program.

5. Establish a Continuous Learning Culture

Once employees are engaged in the learning process, you must figure out how to keep them moving forward. Your talent development strategy will work best within a workplace culture that values continuous learning.

Part of creating this kind of culture is training managers and supervisors to provide employees with regular performance reviews and coaching based on measurable goals. You can also consider providing incentives for learning new skills.

Real-Life Examples of Talent Development in Action

Talent development has so many business benefits. Some prominent organizations are proving this to be true with robust and effective talent development programs of their own.


Amazon employees are introduced to a culture of continuous learning from the very beginning, with a month-long training and leadership program before they begin working. Additionally, Amazon provides full-time employees with Career Choice coaches and tuition payment for those seeking degrees in in-demand fields.


Chick-fil-A employees enjoy mentorship directly from restaurant operators, who help them build business skills for a successful future. The fast-food giant also offers scholarship funds as well as a Leadership Development Program for any employee interested in moving up the ranks and potentially becoming an operator.


Costco is known for promoting from within. According to the company, the majority of its managers started in hourly positions. To facilitate professional development, Costco offers scholarship funds and paid internships at its corporate offices.

The company also provides a Supervisor in Training program for those interested in leadership. Its “Journeys for All” program offers guidance and mentorship from business leaders.


Adult beverage company Heineken takes a different approach to skill building than most companies, using a method known as “reverse mentoring.” 86% of the company’s senior leadership has decided to become a mentee to a younger employee.

Not only does reverse mentoring give business leaders insight into the future of the company and areas where they may need to seek growth, but it also allows them to learn new skills from those on the front lines.

Put Talent Development Strategies to Work for Your Company

A viable talent management and development program is crucial when it comes to future-proofing your company. Not only does it decrease turnover while increasing loyalty, engagement, and overall performance, but it will also ensure your organization has the necessary skills to meet its short- and long-term goals.

By providing employees with a clear path to developing their skills, you can contribute to their personal and professional success, which in turn will take your company to the next level.

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