There was a time when a client could ask me for a Learning & Development Manager and before knowing any specifics or seeing a job spec – just based on my knowledge of the client organisation, culture and team set up – I’d have been confident that off the top of my head, I could pick out 3 or 4 strong candidates (remember it’s quality not quantity) that they would likely want to interview.

Similarly, if an organisation was looking for a Talent Management professional, I would be looking out for an individual who had broader strategic experience that might encompass talent acquisition, capability development, succession and workforce planning, or performance management for example.

However, today, if a client said they were looking for a L&D Manager, I would immediately be thinking – do they actually mean a L&D Manager or what does L&D encompass for them and their business? This is because there has been a blurring of the lines between Talent Management and Learning & Development disciplines. More and more businesses are looking for Learning & Talent hybrids and below I have outlined the benefits of this approach.

To set the scene…

Let’s say an organisation’s key challenges are employee engagement and retention. There is no need to explain why these issues shouldn’t be addressed in silo as there is a clear correlation between how engaged a workforce are and the retention rate. On the other hand, it is less clear where an organisation might choose to invest the most time and money on improving these issues.

Some of the most common motivations candidates have for wanting to explore new opportunities are;

1) No opportunities for progression

2) Not learning anything new / looking for a ‘new challenge’

3) Don’t feel like their hard work is properly recognised / rewarded

Quite often, candidates will cite two or even all of the above as reasons why they are looking to move on. In order to improve employee engagement and increase retention, it makes sense to have a joined up approach – a strategy that looks at the talent process as a whole rather than focusing on separate elements in the hope that everything, at some point, will slot together.

Here’s where the benefits come in…

1) The Bigger Picture:

To improve employee engagement and increase retention, it isn’t enough to simply put ‘high potentials’ on a development scheme, increase holiday allowance, or introduce a monthly, quarterly or annual award scheme. I’m not trying to devalue any of these initiatives by any means – however on their own, the desired change is unlikely to last. On the other hand, where Talent and L&D are working together and there is a clearly defined strategy encompassing talent and development across the organisation as a whole, there is a far greater chance for success – on a bigger scale, with longevity!

2) Better Communication:

It still amazes me how many businesses rely solely on strength of brand to retain employees. Taking reasons 2 and 3 from above – it doesn’t matter how big or respected a brand is, if an organisation is not providing adequate opportunities for its employees to develop or isn’t properly recognising individuals’ contributions, employees aren’t going to stick around. At the same time, it’s no good having fantastic Management or Leadership Development programmes if there are no clear routes for progression or increased benefits / reward at the end of the process. Therefore there has to be communication between L&D teams and broader Talent and HR, in order to ensure maximum effectiveness of individual solutions.

3) Better Performance:

Studies have shown that organisations that invest seriously into talent management and focus on a joined up approach get the best results. If businesses can identify the talent they need, attract the right people, engage their employees well and carefully manage their development, their employees will perform better and performance has been shown to directly add to the bottom line.

I have focussed on challenges around employee engagement and retention and how businesses can more effectively address these issues by having an integrated Talent & learning function. How else can taking this approach benefit businesses? Please do comment below to share your opinion and experiences.

When clients have been hiring for newly created roles and are faced with some of these issues around what skill sets and experience are most important, we have provided support in a number of ways. For example presented case studies about what has worked in different scenarios, offered benchmarking services that help better define a role and provided insights into what the best candidates are looking for so clients can best position their opportunity in the market. 

Alice Simpson is currently working on various exciting opportunities - CLICK HERE to explore!