Through the past few years of turbulence that have affected all businesses, one thing has been (and will continue to be) consistently important: the need to retain talent. Without strategies in place to keep employees engaged in their roles and their development, businesses face a host of risks such as increased turnover rates, performance issues and failure to grow.

While it is the responsibility of many in an organization to help retain and develop talent, the learning and development (L&D) function can play a uniquely motivational role in helping employees expand their skills to advance their career and benefit the organization. There are many individual approaches that leaders can and should take to support career mobility, but here are a few tried-and-true methods to ensure your L&D function becomes a key player in your organization’s employees’ long-term success.

1. Focus on Upskilling

A 2021 Gartner poll found that nearly 60% of the workforce will need new skills training to successfully do their current job. This data presents businesses with a clear objective: Build an employee’s confidence in their current position to help them be stronger in their next one. L&D can support this objective by working with stakeholders to define, create and implement upskilling tactics in their needed areas.

Upskilling, generally speaking, refers to training employees on new job-relevant skills or competencies needed to improve performance. An example would be training an employee on a new feature of a current system that allows them to access and share information quickly and easily. That employee already understood the system but can continually improve their performance with training. By offering a these learning opportunities, L&D can upskill the organization’s existing talent to help prepare them for their future career paths.

2. Promote Interdepartmental Relationships

While ensuring employees are satisfied in their current roles is crucial, another large aspect of talent retention is allowing employees to look at other business units to move to if they are interested. Few departments have as much reach with the scope of their work as L&D teams do, making them a fantastic facilitator for interdepartmental relationships. Capitalizing on this reach is essential for career mobility conversations, as L&D can act as a networking partner for employees looking to better understand different functions of the organization.

A great way to support these interdepartmental connections is to create a “tour program” that allows an interested employee to learn about other areas of the organization through direct observation. When this program is coordinated through your L&D team, it can have a larger impact due to the network that L&D has across the entire organization. This also allows the program to be centralized, which creates a consistent development opportunity for all employees.

3. Create a Leadership Development Program

Upskilling and tours, while both effective in their purpose, are somewhat informal and dependent on individual styles of leadership. One way L&D can create a consistent development experience is to offer a leadership development program. By designing a structured opportunity to hear and learn about quality leadership, your organizational talent will have a formal and practical space to develop the skills necessary for successful career mobility.

There are many traits that make a leadership development program successful. One crucial starting point is that the program must the align to the organization’s goals to maximize stakeholder buy-in. Without this alignment, the program risks becoming a cost to the organization rather than an investment in the employees. The program must also offer personalized learning experiences, which “recognize that for learning to really happen, it must fit around and align itself to working days and working lives,” according to a Harvard Business Review article. The dynamic of a leadership development program must fit into the participant’s normal flow of work to support engagement and intended outcomes. These essential aspects of a successful leadership development program offer a consistent experience for employees interested in their short- and long-term careers.

While talent retention should be the focus of all business units in an organization, strong L&D functions can solidify the importance of career mobility through upskilling, creating organizational partnerships, and offering leadership development programs to maximize their organization’s human capital and the individual contributions that each employee brings to the table.