When you are trying to recruit and retain top employee talent, professional development opportunities aren’t just a nice perk to have. They are vital to finding and keeping the people you need at your organization. In fact, according to a Towers and Watson study, base pay, job security and career advancement opportunities matter most to employees when deciding to join or leave an organization. Additionally, an article from the Harvard Business Review, high performing employees site supplemental training programs among the tops things they value from their employer, yet two thirds don’t feel like their boss provides them with enough training opportunities. It is clear that offering professional development and career advancement opportunities is a critical part of successful recruiting and retention strategies. Here are three things from Entrepreneur that can help you focus on creating those career paths that employees, especially top performers, really value.

Understand the skills needed for each role
Take a step back and look at each role in your organization. List the top two or three skills that are necessary to be successful for each one. Once you know what is required to be successful, you can evaluate which current employees might benefit from some additional training. Think about the type of training that would also be fulfilling to the individual employee in that role.

By doing this analysis, you will also be able to easily create a training path for new hires to help them get up to speed quickly in their new roles.

Talk to your employees
Talk to your employees about their professional goals. What skills would they like to improve? Find ways to align their goals with the company goals. Explore what skills your employees have that may not directly relate to their current role. Are there special projects they could assist with in the organization that would allow them to do something they enjoy while also bringing additional value to the company?

Encourage employees to give you feedback. What training opportunities would they like to have?

Create a trusting relationship
When your employees trust you, they have greater job satisfaction and feel more secure in their roles. They will also feel more comfortable coming to you with feedback and suggestions for how you can help them advance their careers. This relationship will also help give you peace of mind that your star employee won’t turn in their resignation tomorrow.

The good news about all of these items is that this really comes down to having open and honest communication with your employees. Find out what they would like to get out of their employment with you and then look for ways to make that align with your company goals. Often this doesn’t have to be anything too time consuming or expensive. Perhaps an employee would like to join a professional organization to help him or her network with individuals in similar roles at other organizations. Or maybe there is an employee who would like to enroll in an online course to advance his or her skills in a particular area. Creating opportunities for professional development is a win-win for businesses. You gain employees with greater skills and your employees feel more engaged and satisfied.

If you have questions about finding professional development opportunities for your employees, contact an HR Business Partner at 1-800-748-5102 or humanresources@helpside.com