Imagine what a business could achieve if 100 percent of its employees were engaged in their work. Study after study shows that engaged employees are the key contributors to an organization’s strategy and success. The Bureau of National Affairs estimates that companies with engaged employees outperform those without engaged employees by 202 percent.

Retaining and developing talent

Engaged employees are also less likely to leave their jobs. This is critically important as the job market heats up. Gallup estimates that 51 percent of employees are currently looking for other jobs. With the cost of replacing employees ranging from 20 to 200 percent of salary, depending on the person’s role, it becomes a matter of simple math to understand that creating a culture that fosters engagement is crucial. It’s increasingly more important to look at employee engagement as a key business growth strategy, rather than an HR checkbox item.

A key finding in Gallup’s “State of the American Workforce” report, is that after paid time off, health insurance, and retirement plans, the benefit employees most value professional development. Developing talent in the workplace is a requirement for employee engagement and retention.

How to add real value

But just providing training isn’t the answer. For talent development efforts to add real value to employees and the organization, the programs need to be practical, well designed, and relevant.

Effective development programs require an understanding of the science of learning. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) report “The Science of Learning: Key Strategies for Designing and Delivering Training” shows that highly effective organizations consider specific learning concepts and strategies when designing talent development programs.

Coaching and mentoring programs are other effective talent development approachs. The just-released ATD report “Mentoring Matters: Developing Talent with Formal Mentoring Programs” shows that organizations with formal mentoring programs have higher employee engagement and retention rates.

Investing in talent development and creating a culture of learning that permeates an organization is a meaningful business strategy. Organizations that are dedicated to creating wellbeing for their employees need to recognize that a commitment to growing skills and knowledge isn’t just great for employees, it’s a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.