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Keeping Employees with Continuous Talent Development

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Workplace has gone through big changes in the last decades. The digital revolution has brought its advantages but also challenges. To be able to compete in the global market, companies require highly skilled employees. Exactly those employees are the biggest asset a company can have in a knowledge-based economy. And yet, the knowledge these employees have today might in a few years not be useful anymore.

Numerous companies are struggling to fill open positions, especially for technical profiles, such as developers, but also for other positions in a fast moving business environment.

FinTech and any other knowledge-based companies are struggling to attract and keep employees

We can look into the FinTech sector as an example, but the situation can be applied to any company which needs highly skilled employees and has difficulty to find and keep them. As the report Nederlandse FinTech Census 2019 shows, more than half of the FinTech companies say that it’s not easy to find qualified staff. They even state that finding the suitable talent is their biggest challenge.

Dutch FinTech companies often resort to employing young developers from abroad. They attract them with the idea of life in Amsterdam, but keeping them for a period longer than a few years is difficult.

Employee engagement and opportunities for development help for retention of the employees

One of the key reasons why employees leave their employer is due to lack of opportunities for development. Skills and knowledge development gives people motivation, purpose and engages them. With that, a company is creating a value-based culture, which is especially important for millennials. At the same time, this helps build an employer’s brand to attract fresh talent: Talent attracts more talent.

The importance of learning and development of employees has grown as an answer to the challenges of getting qualified staff and keeping them, but also for reskilling and upskilling the existing employees. L&D, as it’s commonly abbreviated, has become an integrated part of companies which are successfully navigating and solving these challenges. Some companies have full teams dedicated to talent development, some develop it as a part of the HR department and some outsource training.

One-off trainings or E-learning courses without application bring little gain

The times of working in one company your whole life have long gone. Fighting for talent is a reality with which the employers and HR managers have to deal. But what can be done to compete for the shrinking talent pool?

Research of John Coleman as published in the Harvard Business Review1 suggests that lifelong learning contributes to happiness. Challenge the employees and give them skills to grow and develop. While most companies are aware of this and also put effort in the development of knowledge and skills of their employees, they often do it wrong.

Most common are one-off trainings, even though we know that the percentage of what we memorize after hearing it only once is low. Most companies are also widely offering online courses to their employees. With both approaches there is rarely any follow-up, repetitions, reflection or application in the work processes.

These were just two examples of good intentions with little effect. To learn more about the talent development and tips on how to do it right, sign up here to our mailinglist and read further to dive into the basics of talent development.

The 70:20:10 model

Companies see results from talent development when it’s an integrated part of the staff-related activities on an on-going basis, Continuous Talent Development. But what exactly are the methods it stands for?

One of the basic principles supporting continuous talent development is the 70:20:10 model:

  • 70% of the learning takes place on the job.

  • 20% through interaction and collaboration such as coaching and feedback.

  • 10% through formal learning interventions such as classroom training and digital learning.

Traditionally, most companies focus on the formal learning component. Nowadays we know that classroom trainings and online courses are just the basis, and stopping here means that we’re leaving 90% out.

Coaching, on the job learning activities and feedback

As Human Capital Institute reports, coaching will play a much bigger role in talent development programs in the near future. Their study shows that more than 80 % organizations plan to expand the coaching of managers and 25 % of them have already reserved a budget for it.

Practice shows that it’s not enough to tell senior employees to share their knowledge with others. A coach can still be someone within the company, but it can also be an external professional. In any case, there should be a structure and a serious coaching plan with a follow-up, feedback and success measurements.

Let’s not mistake coaching for counseling or feedback. Counseling would be to tell an employee that a certain task was not done right and to explain how to do it right. Coaching, however, means empowering the employee to come to the answers her-/himself. This can be done by asking questions like ‘How do you think that went, what would you do differently, what actions will you take and how can I support you?’ Coaching creates independence, confidence, and encourages problem-solving and strategic thinking of the employee.

Successful continuous talent development programs requires a strategic plan and a budget

All of these processes can be done within the company, as part of the activities of the HR department. Or as mentioned before, you can hire an outsourced continuous talent development professional. In any case, what we recommend is to have a serious strategic plan and budget to make these programs a success and add value to the business.

If you are on a mission to enlighten your superiors with the facts about continuous talent development, keep on following our articles to gain more knowledge about it. Next article is about ratings, rankings and annular evaluation reviews and how to turn them into a positive influence on the employees.

1John Coleman, “Lifelong learning is good for your health, your wallet, and your social life,” Harvard Business Review, February 7, 2017,

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