Customer Story

How the State of Alaska turned crisis into opportunity amid COVID-19

The State of Alaska’s Department of Administration (DOA) leads strategy and change initiatives, improves the efficiency and effectiveness of government services, and builds organizational resiliency.

In response to COVID-19, the State of Alaska encouraged its employees to work remotely — so investing in digital solutions became necessary overnight. With a trusted services partner in The Marick Group and CARES Act funds, the State of Alaska implemented Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance solutions to drive better outcomes for all Alaskans.

“Tech adoption across the State has been slow for most of my 30-year career, with limited funding to invest in transformative technological tools,” said DOA Acting Commissioner Amanda Holland. “As much as humans may desire progress, they’re going to fight tooth and nail against change. We were starting to see the possibilities, but they were always small, and they were specific to one particular process or group.”

COVID-19, the CARES Act, and Cornerstone

The arrival of COVID-19 posed a major challenge for the State of Alaska. About 100 teleworkers turned into 6,200 in just a few weeks. Their pilot Microsoft Teams program needed to be rolled out from 40 testers to over 10,000 employees to support remote operations. The State had to stand up VPN connections for many employees. Simultaneously, the State was in the middle of consolidating four administrative functions. And that’s in addition to the State’s need to provide services and support to Alaskans, like procuring masks and PPE.

And all of this was without an increase in headcount.

The State put together a COVID preparedness plan to address the then-hypothetical question: “What happens if the pandemic lasts longer than expected?” To continue to support its community remotely, the State identified two critical components:

1. A technology backbone for working from anywhere
2. A workforce that can perform remotely

Component two couldn’t happen without component one, so it would be no small task to get their workforce performing remotely. That would require managers who can supervise and direct work from a remote distance. It would require processes and programs to help employees learn how to communicate, support themselves and their coworkers, and get their work done.

When the pandemic did indeed last longer than initial expectations, the State’s plan began to take shape. In addition to using the funding to improve services (e.g., making it possible to apply for a fishing license remotely), the State also looked for opportunities to improve internal processes — powering that technology backbone — and a workplace that could perform remotely. State officials saw the importance of implementing digital performance and learning.

“There’s a section in the CARES Act funding that does address the eligibility to use funds to allow for a teleworking workforce, to allow for that safe social distancing and continuation of government services,” Holland explained. “We really saw this as the opportunity to support and bolster our workforce with remote learning and also remote performance management.”

Enter: Cornerstone. Together with professional services organization, The Marick Group — a Cornerstone certified services partner — the state of Alaska worked to deploy Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance.

Implementation: Building the plane while flying it

Keeping workers safe while also continuing government functions was of paramount importance to the State throughout the pandemic. The Cornerstone implementation was designed to do just that: Support worker health and safety while ensuring continuity of services to the State of Alaska through an efficient telework infrastructure. Equipping State employees, supervisors, and executives with customized performance management and learning and development tools and curricula would help increase job clarity and provide structure and support.

The State of Alaska partnered with The Marick Group as soon as approval to invest in an HR solution for remote work was received. Together, they identified Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance as the ideal solution for the State’s needs and agreed to an aggressive implementation timeline. It was October 2020, and the State of Alaska wanted to get around 15,000 users access to learning and performance by December 30, 2020.

“What Marick really brought to the table that meant a lot to the State is that can-do approach,” Holland said. “That is so important because when you have a partnership like that, you have that extra level of dedication and commitment and energy that results in making amazing things happen.”

That’s not to say transitioning was an easy process. In addition to simultaneously leading the departmental consolidation efforts, supporting thousands of remote personnel, and maintaining highquality services to Alaskans, DOA was starting to sense the wear of COVID-19. During that time in Alaska, the sun doesn’t come up until 8:30am, then it goes down by 3:30pm. That means employees are getting up and working in the dark. And when they look up from the computer at the end of the day, it’s dark. The extreme winter weather means it’s difficult — sometimes impossible — to get outside. Through their commitment to serving Alaskans and a lot of grit, the team stayed strong despite the myriad of challenges 2020 had to offer.

Working with The Marick Group and Cornerstone, the State of Alaska deployed in an unprecedented 62 days — including weekends and holidays — for almost 15,000 users across learning and performance. And that was even with the complexities created by COVID and the four-hour difference between the Alaska team and Marick’s team. The Marick Group also helped deliver a four-day system administrator training for both Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance, as well as data services and virtual instructor-led training capabilities.

“I mean, 62 days is pretty amazing. Not only can it be done quickly and effectively, it doesn’t have to be as painful as people might think it is,” Holland said. “We were each other’s cheering section, and I think that was a huge piece of the win.”

Impact: Driving development across the State of Alaska

Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance didn’t just address the immediate COVID-19-related challenges; the State of Alaska had already anticipated its ability to address longer-term COVID-19-related teleworking needs.

“Our workforce has gotten a taste of more modern technology, and I think they’re seeing how it’s making it easier for them to remote work,” Holland said. “They’re seeing how it is helping to protect them. So I believe that this is opening the door for us to become a more automated and efficient, technologically-supported state government.”

Before Cornerstone, for example, almost all the State’s training was in-person. And despite being the largest state geographically — with 80% of Alaska’s communities not accessible by road — these trainings were conducted almost exclusively in Alaska’s three largest cities: Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. This great distance created a significant associated travel cost and made it difficult to access training with any regularity. With Cornerstone Learning, training is available to anyone with an internet connection.

“It’s really allowing us to reach a lot more people a lot faster without nearly as much expense,” Holland said. “It pulls the state together.”

Cornerstone Performance also helped bolster “long-distance” supervisory relationships, allowing managers to better train and develop their direct reports even across distances.

Cornerstone’s learning environment opened a whole world of possibilities for the State of Alaska. Now it is much easier to track what training people are taking. Supervisors are more easily involved in what their staff is learning and how it relates to their jobs. It also allows supervisors to see what areas staff need to focus on to really build competencies or close knowledge gaps.

The formal rollout of AspireAlaska — the state’s implementation of Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance — included over 2,000 courses designed for public employees. The platform was rolled out in pilot on December 30, 2020, and then to the whole state on February 16, 2021. Within 24 hours of making Cornerstone Learning available, employees had signed up for 550 different courses. And within the launch of Cornerstone Performance, the State saw 10% of users starting their performance planning tasks immediately after rollout.

“The learning management system and the performance management system really go hand-in-hand,” Holland said. “If you just have the PMS or the LMS, you miss that opportunity to have an integrated technology that supports the workforce not only in learning but in applying and then measuring the results and the outcomes of what they learned.”

Ongoing learning and development drives better service to Alaskans

The State of Alaska is already looking to roll out more courses and services through AspireAlaska to all its departments, as many have asked how the platform can be customized for their special use. The Marick Group continues to be a trusted partner in these ongoing rollout efforts. It’s part of a mindset shift across the organization: “It was amazing,” Holland said, “how fast we saw, ‘Wow if we don’t have online, accessible learning opportunities, we’re jeopardizing our ability to keep the government going. And we’re really doing a disservice to not only the public employees who need that training and deserve that training, but we’re also doing a disservice to the public because we can’t serve Alaskans very well if we can’t learn how to do our jobs.’”

Whether it’s CARES Act funding, new stimulus funding, or a federal grant, we can help you decide how to maximize budget in support of training and developing a remote or hybrid workforce.

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Citadele: Investing in a culture of learning and individual performance management

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Citadele: Investing in a culture of learning and individual performance management

Citadele Group is an innovative, full-service financial group for both private individuals and companies. The Group offers a complete portfolio of banking, financial and private capital management services in the Baltic states. Citadele’s mission is to provide more opportunities to its clients by redefining modern banking – it aims to change the meaning of current financial business with innovations and an outstanding client experience beyond the formal frame. With the goal of becoming the Baltic banking champion, Citadele offers multiple career paths and a variety of professional development opportunities for all its employees. Our new path towards ambitious and modern goals also demands a change within our employees’ learning and performance tracking model. Improved tools and solutions are needed to streamline Citadele’s employee progression processes across 37 offices. Why Cornerstone? Recognising that employees are its most valuable asset, Citadele made sure that employees are the top priority in the process of change. Bearing this in mind, Citadele had three key requirements during the search for its talent management solution: the system needed to be easy-to-use; it needed to have the option to involve employees in individual goal-setting; and it needed to track feedback on an ongoing basis and provide tracking for necessary compliance training. The system also needed to feature engaging and motivating content to help Citadele boost talent retention rates. After considering 20 other vendors, Citadele chose Cornerstone OnDemand as it ticked all the required boxes in terms of being both an established SaaS platform and a well-developed system that adhered to all of Citadele’s needs. After considering 20 other vendors, Citadele chose Cornerstone OnDemand as it ticked all the required boxes in terms of being both an established SaaS platform and a well-developed system that adhered to all of Citadele’s needs. The Results Increased productivity. Since implementing Cornerstone Performance, Citadele has seen an improvement in its employees’ performance. The simplified goal-setting, monitoring and continuous feedback system means that employees feel more confident and more motivated at work. That in turn has led to increased productivity levels. According to Citadele’s recent feedback survey, more than 95% of employees expressed satisfaction with the system. Streamlined performance processes. Before Cornerstone, all records regarding employees’ career, training, obligatory certifications and performance appraisals had to be integrated manually. With Cornerstone Performance, managers now receive detailed analytics at the click of a button, meaning that employee goals, training activities and tracking have become optimised and tailored to employees’ needs. Enhanced employer reputation. Citadele strives for the status of best employer in the Baltic region. Partnering with Cornerstone has helped Citadele to attract and retain even more talent in the industry Full compliance visibility. Compliance training was one of the key requirements for Citadele. Since implementing the Cornerstone e-learning module, the company is now confident that all its employees have the necessary training to meet the industry’s compliance requirements. Citadele is also able to successfully track completions in order to meet deadlines. Motivation and passion for learning. Implementing Cornerstone Performance has helped Citadele to significantly raise the ambition and motivation of its employees. Necessary changes in individual performance management have pushed Citadele forward regarding its learning culture. Since then, the company has selected Cornerstone’s e-learning as its next module, in addition to the already launched Cornerstone’s Performance Appraisal System. This will allow each employee to choose their most convenient way to learn, integrating learning into their everyday work.

Announcing the Convergence 2021 featured speakers: Dan Levy and Malala Yousafzai

Blog Post

Announcing the Convergence 2021 featured speakers: Dan Levy and Malala Yousafzai

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CGL: Improving learning and performance capability through advanced digital solutions

Customer Story

CGL: Improving learning and performance capability through advanced digital solutions

Communities often need help when their quality of life is affected by crime. Homelessness, drugs, alcohol and domestic abuse all have an impact on the local area and this is where the CGL (Change, Grow, Live – formerly known as CRI) steps in. Every year, more than 120,000 people across England and Wales receive assistance to get back on their feet. At CGL, full-time staff and volunteers work to encourage and motivate people to take control of their lives. CGL now has more than 3,000 staff and 1,000 volunteers in more than 160 regional centers. With so many employees across a wide region, keeping track of their progress was proving to be difficult. Previously, there were instances where notes were lost, handwriting was illegible, copies were not being shared, and many of the action points from the meetings were missed. CGL knew they had to address this by empowering its employees and volunteers by implementing a unified talent management solution. Why Cornerstone To overcome its reliance on paper-based records, CGL decided it had to go digital. It chose the talent management tools from Cornerstone OnDemand, selecting Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Performance solutions. The solutions enabled CGL to standardise its recordkeeping across the organisation. What happened in one office needed to be replicated in another, even if it is hundreds of miles away. So, for the first time, the performance management process was exactly the same across the country. Through Cornerstone, CGL now has the ability to deliver, track, view and report on all learning and development progress across the organisation. In turn, it brings unity and consistency to all its training modules. Furthermore, through Cornerstone’s cloud-based talent management software, CGL was able to empower its employees and volunteers through learning and development, as well as foster a more aligned performance management process throughout the organisation. The sharing of best practices developed a powerful team of employees and volunteers that could provide the best possible service to those that CGL works with. Results Created central access to learning. Cornerstone has provided CGL with central access to learning and development from any device. It has revolutionised the way that CGL is able to quality assure and monitor both individual and overall service performance. Improved Customer satisfaction. Sandra Eden, Development Manager at CGL in the Midlands, said “Quality performance reviews contribute to positive outcomes and achievements, improved staff engagement and customer and stakeholder satisfaction. The quantitative and qualitative detail driving everything that we do is now easily accessible at the click of a button.” Standardised performance reviews. CGL constructed a thorough marketing plan to prepare for the roll out of the new system across its workforce. With tailored emails outlining clear benefits – both from a line manager’s perspective and frontline perspective, uptake in the first week was 15 percent. So far, just a few months after rolling out the service, 1,791 performance reviews have been created across CGL. Increased employee and volunteer engagement. The newly introduced Welcome Page on the training site has had an immediate impact. An internal Stonewall diversity survey generated only 17 respondents prior to using Cornerstone; three days after a message and link were posted on the new hosting site, the number of respondents rose to 82 – a 482 percent increase. Kevin Crowley, Executive Director – Quality, Governance and Innovation at CGL values the visibility he has over the organisation. He said, “Using Cornerstone to bring performance development online has really given us a powerful tool to more closely align learning with performance and ensure our staff has the necessary skills and knowledge to provide the best possible service to those we work with. We have been able to build up a national picture of our strengths, and can identify and share good practice to ensure continuous improvement across the organisation.”

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