Great moments, shared as a team
Blog Post

Great moments, shared as a team

As April whizzes past, we sit down with some of our Cornerstars, who are currently celebrating their work anniversaries, and ask them to reflect on their experiences at Cornerstone so far. In our previous blog, the focus was on the people and how it’s the employees at Cornerstone that make it such a great place to work. And this shared ethos of working together and helping each other has been talked about by each Cornerstar we’ve asked. “It’s about the teamwork, a team you can depend on, people that go the extra mile, helping and being helped. Our greatest asset is our people, I state this in every meeting I have with prospects and clients” said Max Schroeter, Regional Sales Manager at Cornerstone. Hanns Horvath, Delivery Manager, agreed and said “I like the people. They are all the best.” When we asked our Cornerstars what has been there favourite moment so far, it is no surprise that they struggled to name just one. However, the event that came up the most was Convergence. Each year we hold a conference for clients and colleagues alike to come together and connect. “Getting all our clients to come to the dancefloor and dance. It’s one of the many reasons they like coming to Cornerstone events, being able to party with the Cornerstars!” said Max Schroeter. For Christiaan Weurding, Regional Sales Manager, the overall support and activities at Cornerstone are a highlight “there is a lot of time invested in personal development, support in my daily job and great activities like development day, anniversary and Convergence.” And it’s being able to share exciting moments with their teams that drive our Cornerstars to challenge themselves. Fermin Arbea, Implementation Consultant highlights: “At Cornerstone you find a great working environment, with colleagues always willing to collaborate. Also, it is a place to find challenges where you can grow both professionally and personally.” It is this shared team spirit at Cornerstone that drives colleagues to help one another and work together to generate success. Oliver Normand Account Manager Strategic, EMEA said “it was a great team success when, after 18 months of negotiation, we signed an important contract with one of our major clients in Europe.” Overall, it is this shared culture that drive our Cornerstars to succeed. Fermin Arbea believes that “the greatest moments are ones that we share among the whole team, collaborating with initiatives in which we can help other people. These are moments in which we all unite a little more and return home with a shared smile.”

Great moments, shared as a team
Blog Post

Great moments, shared as a team

As April whizzes past, we sit down with some of our Cornerstars, who are currently celebrating their work anniversaries, and ask them to reflect on their experiences at Cornerstone so far. In our previous blog, the focus was on the people and how it’s the employees at Cornerstone that make it such a great place to work. And this shared ethos of working together and helping each other has been talked about by each Cornerstar we’ve asked. “It’s about the teamwork, a team you can depend on, people that go the extra mile, helping and being helped. Our greatest asset is our people, I state this in every meeting I have with prospects and clients” said Max Schroeter, Regional Sales Manager at Cornerstone. Hanns Horvath, Delivery Manager, agreed and said “I like the people. They are all the best.” When we asked our Cornerstars what has been there favourite moment so far, it is no surprise that they struggled to name just one. However, the event that came up the most was Convergence. Each year we hold a conference for clients and colleagues alike to come together and connect. “Getting all our clients to come to the dancefloor and dance. It’s one of the many reasons they like coming to Cornerstone events, being able to party with the Cornerstars!” said Max Schroeter. For Christiaan Weurding, Regional Sales Manager, the overall support and activities at Cornerstone are a highlight “there is a lot of time invested in personal development, support in my daily job and great activities like development day, anniversary and Convergence.” And it’s being able to share exciting moments with their teams that drive our Cornerstars to challenge themselves. Fermin Arbea, Implementation Consultant highlights: “At Cornerstone you find a great working environment, with colleagues always willing to collaborate. Also, it is a place to find challenges where you can grow both professionally and personally.” It is this shared team spirit at Cornerstone that drives colleagues to help one another and work together to generate success. Oliver Normand Account Manager Strategic, EMEA said “it was a great team success when, after 18 months of negotiation, we signed an important contract with one of our major clients in Europe.” Overall, it is this shared culture that drive our Cornerstars to succeed. Fermin Arbea believes that “the greatest moments are ones that we share among the whole team, collaborating with initiatives in which we can help other people. These are moments in which we all unite a little more and return home with a shared smile.”

Kindness in a crisis
Blog Post

Kindness in a crisis

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt and dominate our lives, feelings of anxiety are completely normal during times of uncertainty. Each person will be impacted in a different way and it is important to remember that you are not alone. Already there are so many stories emerging of human kindness and compassion and people pulling together to help and support each other. Already there are some wonderful examples of where people have demonstrated such kindness and compassion and that it is so heart-warming. I did however, read in the BBC news last weekend about a man who apparently wouldn’t give an elderly lady just ONE of a number of (the last) packets of dry pasta he had selfishly grabbed from the shelf. He said no when she asked him politely. Then this morning in the supermarket the toilet roll aisle was being policed by supermarket staff and I actually saw a woman in a wheelchair struggling to get through! We need to be supporting and looking after the elderly and vulnerable. This is a time when the power of human kindness can and will shine through. We are all in it together and this is not every person for themselves. There is no doubt about it; the world would be a better place to be if there were more consideration and kindness about. It certainly seems that over the last few years there has been a deluge of animosity, ugly fake news, bullying behavior across social media, bitter electioneering, and at times, relentless volatility and overwhelming pressure with burnout. Now we have been presented with a challenge that has turned most of lives upside down and we need to be kind and support each other more than ever. History demonstrates that a crisis will bring out the very worst or the very best in people. We all have a choice and choosing kindness will benefit everyone in one way or another This is the time to be kinder to ourselves, kinder to others and kinder to our environment. Against the backdrop of fear, isolation and inevitable loss and grief, we must not lose our quintessential traits such as empathy, compassion and kindness. Being kind is a way you can spread goodness in the world, and it’s those small thoughtful gestures, added together, that will indeed make the world a better place to be. Acts of kindness are one of the greatest ways to inspire others and those around you will take note and your kindness will be contagious and create a ripple effect. Here are ten things ways that you can be part of the kindness revolution… 1. Be kind to yourself Self-care and self-compassion are so important when it comes to being healthy, happy and resilient. Investing in your personal well-being is kindness in itself because when you feel better about yourself you will set a positive example, which will positively influence others to be kind to themselves too. 2. Make kindness a habit You are essentially what you repeatedly do and, in many ways, kindness is a habit and is one that everyone can cultivate. A great way to build the habit is to focus on kindness every day for a month. Set out to do kind things for yourself and for others. Then set aside time at the end of each day to reflect and write down some of the things that you have done. 3. Gift people your time Time is a very precious commodity and giving people your time is a valuable gift. Being truly present and listening to someone, by avoiding all distractions, and giving a person the time of day is one of the greatest acts of kindness. Take the time to truly absorb yourself in what the other person is saying before responding and demonstrate to the person that you appreciate their unique situation. 4. Be compassionate Sometimes, people may not be very nice to you and it could well upset you. It is always worth reminding yourself that often this is born out of unhappiness, insecurity, loneliness, stress or fatigue. Extending the hand of human kindness in these situations can be challenging, although this is the time when people need your kindness the most. 5. Empathise Empathy and understanding are part of an emotional process that builds connection between people. It is about ‘reading’ another person’s inner state and interpreting it in a way that will help the other person to feel supported and it also has the added benefit of developing mutual trust. 6. Avoid gossip Social media can be a playground for toxic behaviour and a place where gossip mongering is rife. Even just reading some of the cruel and unnecessarily hurtful comments about other people fuels the bandwagon and can contaminate your own thinking. Being critical, judgmental and gossiping about other people is not about kindness. You will feel much happier when you actively seek out the good in people and practise tolerance and empathy. If you haven’t got something positive, helpful or constructive to say about someone else it is better to say nothing. 7. Be optimistic Be optimistic and seek out the good in others and in the world around you. This will also help you to be resilient and deal with adversity and life’s inevitable setbacks. Optimism is the bedrock of kindness and will continuously restore your faith in humanity. Cultivating an optimistic outlook and a positive mindset will ensure that acts of kindness are delivered with genuine joy rather than with reluctance or out of a sense of duty. Now more than ever we need to focus on the positives, because even the biggest problem can bring with it opportunities. 8. Be grateful Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is a fundamental part of being kind. It is so important not to take anything for granted and thank people and let them know how much you appreciate them. Kind people are easily able to express gratitude and make a habit of being more grateful. 9. Be kind to the planet Climate change is impacting our planet and raising awareness of how much waste you can potentially create is a good place to start to counteract it. If every individual and every business made an effort to reduce their impact on the environment then together a real difference can be made. The changes that you make don’t have to be huge either and there are so many simple things that you can do at home or in the workplace that will help to save the planet. 10. Be part of the kindness revolution In a world that can sometimes be cruel and unkind, it is time to start a revolution … A kindness revolution! Wherever possible (and it is always possible), be kind. Every day of your life there will be ways you can practise kindness. So go out there and discover what they are. Life is a precious gift and every living human being has the opportunity to make a positive difference in just a small and unique way. Note from the author – Liggy Webb We are experiencing unprecedented times and there is a great deal of advice and information circulating, some of it very valuable and important, some of it is not. It is important to balance your intake of news and for every negative thing you hear or read, make sure that you actively seek out positive stories that will uplift you. A healthy balance is so important for your mental health and wellbeing. By following the advice and guidelines from the government, who are doing everything they can to keep us safe, we will get through this challenging time. The lessons we learn along the way will make us stronger and fitter for the future. By taking each day at a time and doing the small things that are in your control will help to ease the build of anxiety. Most important of all be kind to yourself, take one step at a time and remember you are not alone, we are all in this together, and this will pass. For free access to Liggy’s bite sized book on kindness and resilience please email liggy@liggywebb.com

Liggy Webb mood boosters and how to feel better in stormy times
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Liggy Webb mood boosters and how to feel better in stormy times

2020 has been a challenge for most and as much as we were very hopeful about 2021, it feels like a déjà vu. Lockdowns everywhere, the “new norm” seems like it is here to stay, face masks and hand sanitiser. We have had to learn to be resilient, it is not so much about hoping things get back to normal, but to adapt and embrace change as part of our daily routine. It is here to stay. Why is my boss in my living-room? Liggy Webb has been sharing some incredible ideas with us on how to embrace wellbeing, kindness and stay mentally healthy during this pandemic. Organisations need to champion these behaviors too. We have seen HR departments embrace our free online content modules; especially the pieces around wellbeing and health, which were the most requested courses, as my colleague Mark Lamswood shared with us in his piece “Why content… and why now?”. The line between work and life has disappeared, for those that can work remotely – and whilst we are thankful for that, it can be hard to find balance in our lives. Is this the responsibility of an employer, though? To a certain extent, it really should be. Questions around resources have been circling for some time now, do we have a laptop for every kid to connect to online classes? Do we have a spare office in the home to work? Who will take care of the kids if both parents are working remotely? Why is my boss in my living-room? Constant Zoom calls, webcams on, screaming children in the background and the lack of privacy are taking a toll on us. Here are some positives to this new cozy office set-up: I have to confess I am not embarrassed to put the webcam on while in my pyjamas with certain colleagues and the conversations around hairstyles, pets and home décor have brought us together. Please – send help! Stress used to be a big one. Non-stop travelling, meetings all day, commuting to the office and then – if time was left - your private life. Now all those different departments of our existence, have been squeezed in one home for almost a year and stress is even more acute than it used to be. “Worrying about contracting Covid-19, feeling lonely, and not thinking positively were all strongly associated with how anxious and depressed people became.” BMJ Open report In a nutshell, we are more stressed than ever. We are worrying about survival. More vulnerable to fall into unhealthy habits and the uncertainty of not knowing when and if this will be over is not helping. As Dr. Sarah Campbell explained in this video not everyone has the resources to adapt to this massive change and HR departments can help. But let us look in the mirror first and own our responsibilities. Walk the talk – together | This is not a one-size-fits-all approach but there are plenty of little things we can do! Using Liggy as my main inspiration – this is what has worked for me: Show some teeth | As lame as it may sound, I am reminding myself to smile each day. A great way to do so is by creating an e-coffee or e-lunch call with some of the team members and chat about anything BUT work. Or join a laughter group, like this one here created by a artist friend of mine called “Laughter Yoga for Creatives” in which we connect, turn the webcam on and do laugh therapy together. See the sky | Some of the lockdown rules are very strict and we do not all have the same space at home. But having a dog forces you to make that commitment to go for a walk every day. Make that commitment to yourself if you don’t have a pet, book the time in your diary and stretch, meditate, dance in the shower to your favorite tune. Studies show sedentarism is bad for your health. Get a standing desk, sit on an exercise ball or even better – get Stand Up! The Work Break Timer. Eyeliner to start the day | I am a feminist but … starting the day with lipstick and eyeliner makes me a better feminist. And it really does! It helps me get into the office mood and to not panic when I am asked to turn the camera on.  Be kind | To boost my mood and give back I am always creating online donation campaigns for causes that are dear to my heart. It keeps me busy with something different to work, it connects me with other people that feel the same and it helps me channel my energy into something positive. Join us too! Start your joruney and boost your mood in this turbulent moment! Get your e-book for free today here and share your experience with us along the way!

Lockdown life: Volunteering and working from home
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Lockdown life: Volunteering and working from home

Sunday Session at Harmony Gardens - Drone picture by Maxime Fazilleau On a random Saturday last year, I discovered Blue House Yard in Wood Green, London. This is an unexpected place in North London, close to where I live. A red double-decker has been converted into a board games café and taproom. Small timber work sheds house local businesses selling candles, clothes, jewellery and books. Blue House Yard and Edible London market - Picture by Maxime Fazilleau I was curious, so I went to investigate and found there were tables covered with boxes of colourful vegetables and fruits in the middle of the place. I was only passing by, but the seller asked if I wanted to try one of the tomatillos and I could not resist! It was refreshing and spicy at the same time. After a few minutes of conversation, I was so inspired by their story that I ended up buying my veg and fruit from Edible London in Blue House Yard that day. And I came back! But this time I discovered fruity chocolates, organic vegetables, pea shoots and jams all organically grown by incubated businesses. After two weeks of loyal shopping, I was invited by Sunny, the energetic and mindful CEO of Edible London (https://ediblelondon.org/), to visit the greenhouse where volunteers of all ages, cultures and background grow some of the organic products. I went, for a simple visit, to volunteer for five hours that afternoon, and was taught about sowing tomatoes seeds and I learnt that they were heritage seeds and only grown organically. The following week, a friend tells me about Edible London – what are the chances! - and the work they do. Sunny, and his team are not only growing food but also organising cook ups for the Haringey community. A few days every month, they cook and invite people going through housing difficulties to enjoy heart-warming meals and a chat. Before I realised it, I was volunteering and was asked if I could help start a new project which was to create a place where Edible London could and grow more food. Obviously, I accepted. When COVID-19 started, Edible London was still operating normally. But when the lockdown was announced, Sunny decided to form a small team to prepare hampers for people who could not move from their homes. As I was working full time from home, I decided to help around my working hours – but this time behind my screen. I started looking for volunteers to prepare the hampers and deliver them. And thanks to a networking app here in the UK, we got around 20 recruits in a day! Today, Edible London is made of about 20 admins, 15 facilitators and a pool of 350 volunteers. We had to train different teams for the integration, write and create processes, online documents and FAQ for volunteers to understand what to do. We operate from two main food hubs in the council of Haringey: Alexandra Palace - the people's Palace - and one of the underground parking spaces of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. But what is it that we are doing? Let me give you a rough idea: Food sourcing! We have teamed up with one of the big vegetables and fruit markets in London and they provide us with a few pallets of unsold food every day, that would go to waste otherwise. We also get food donations from lots of different business that believe in our vision too. Logistic and Hub! The amazing logistic team gets the different pallets and redirects them to the food hub where the magic happens. The Quality Team volunteers verify the products. This is a very important part of the process as we need to ensure good quality food goes to the hampers preparation that will be distributed to self-isolated people who cannot afford to go out. But we use all of the products and so, the food of normal quality goes to different organisations which can cook meals the same day. Vegetables and fruits that cannot be used to cook can be taken by volunteers or sent to our growing site for compost creation to be used on our growing sites. Ready to pack? Our volunteers prepare hampers of good vegetables and fruits mainly that will be handed over to the Council who is managing the distribution. The rest of the food goes for meals to shelters, food banks and key workers. But we also need to keep our hardworking volunteers healthy – and so we all eat together and make sure nothing goes to waste. Two of my favourite initiatives are the Bikers Community and the Upcycling system. The Bikers for the Community comes to the Food hub to collect meals and essentials, and take it to the streets of North London, stopping for every houseless person they see. Our Upcycling initiative involved the creation of furniture and art from the packaging by our volunteers to feel like home. EcoBricks are made and will be used later in one of our growing projects. Volunteers even ran a zero-waste fashion show, where they used packaging to create their outfits. To go from six to 350 volunteers in ten weeks has been a BIG task – believe me! Many hours and tears have gone into making this happen. Respecting health and safety with the 2m distancing rule and wearing masks did not make it any easier. But we did it! This adventure has shown me what we can do with an army of volunteers. The energy and motivation are high, and our core team is always ready for a new day. I found purpose and a community in this very difficult time – being isolated at home alone is not easy. I am glad I joined Edible London and at the same time find solidarity and hope. Thanks to my previous work experience, I know how to map a process and create communication channels. I also know what it is to be a volunteer and know what to expect from the team. With Cornerstone, I have learnt to communicate effectively – I am a French native – understand the issues fast in order to deploy solution, but most importantly, I have discovered that there is always space to learn, ask questions and be included. Delegating work to new volunteers joining the adventure is my biggest challenge, as trust is important, and it cannot be built in a few hours. But here at Cornerstone we have a culture in which we accept failure as part of our success, and in this instance, I can shadow the teams and let them make mistakes, so they understand the logic behind the processes and so we can all work as a team. Don’t let others stop you from doing good for the community. Teach them to build a resilient one instead.

Cornerstone Xplor walk-through - UK
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Cornerstone Xplor walk-through - UK

The world of work requires a new approach to help employees upskill. Cornerstone Xplor helps to put the right insight and tools in your hands so you can do more to create a workplace that works for everyone. With Cornerstone Xplor — you can have a more connected, more progressive work system with a deeply personalised experience that empowers each individual to adapt, grow, and succeed together.

Business Unbound: A Vision and New Strategies for the New World of Work
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Business Unbound: A Vision and New Strategies for the New World of Work

Yesterday looks nothing like today. For some companies, the COVID-19 crisis has brought business to a grinding halt—but for others, it’s kicked things into hyperdrive. The trends that were emerging before the crisis have accelerated: Digital transformation initiatives have a heightened urgency as businesses are now required to pivot on a dime. The trend toward remote work has manifested in full. The need to reskill and upskill the workforce is now an immediate concern rather than a provision for the future. Change is not optional. How to change is now the critical question. It’s an incredible challenge to adapt in these circumstances—but companies are doing it. Think about Medtronic’s sharp turn to accelerate the production of ventilators in their factories, or Honeywell, and many other companies, now making masks. Companies are demonstrating just how quickly they can move when they eliminate the constraints that were holding them back. Some constraints were the result of yesterday’s thinking, such as outdated business models or processes, to solve today’s challenges. Other constraints, such as pervasive shelter in place orders, are truly unique to today’s historic moment and require new, creative approaches that will have lasting impact. These agile organisations have uncovered their own ability to adapt, and it’s critical that they don’t rebound to routines and outdated structures after the crisis has passed. Business volatility has been increasing for decades before the crisis and will only accelerate long after it. At Cornerstone, we are committed to helping companies take an unbound approach to business. An unbound business is one that is not confined by conventions and is open to fresh approaches in tune with their changing environment. And, we believe that at the heart of an unbound business is continuous people development. Over the past 20 years, we’ve honed our software to help companies adapt quickly with the right people, the right skills and the right training. And with our acquisition of Saba, a global leader in talent solutions, we’re in an even stronger position to help companies lean into their change drivers: continuous learning, actionable data and workforce agility. The key? To continue to remove the constraints. Learning Unbound: Learning is the Accelerator Learning is the adaptability accelerator. Cornerstone People Research Lab data shows that training has skyrocketed in the last several weeks as companies help their employees adapt to this new normal, including a spike in courses about stress management and working from home. This shows that rather than use learning to only meet compliance requirements, we need to provide employees with more holistic learning to address all aspects of work life. To do that, learning must be: Ubiquitous: Available on any device, and, most importantly, delivered in their flow of work in the systems and tools where work is happening. And, when learning is offered in a variety of formats such as learning through social collaboration or learning in short form—known as Microlearning—that are quickly digestible and easily applicable. Learning retention suffers when employees learn on the company’s schedule. Instead, learning retention and effectiveness is highest when employees need it and can immediately apply it to a real-world situation. Hyper-Personalised: Remove the time and energy it takes for employees to seek out learning. Technology can help present relevant opportunities to employees that are contextualised based on their skills, experience, aspirations and preferences. A Business Enabler: For businesses to adapt quickly and at scale, they need to promote real learning – the kind that sticks with you – it requires repetition, reinforcement and nurture. And real learning is always evidenced by change. Changed mindsets. Changed behaviors. Changed outcomes. To help advance these changes forward, Cornerstone has been focused on providing people with the most modern, relevant learning content available through Content Anytime, our subscription service offering. Curated with thousands of courses from dozens of world-class content partners, we are committed to helping organisations provide their people with the right content to help accelerate learning. We also recently invested in Talespin to ensure we stay on the cutting edge of the emerging area of virtual reality training. By embracing these changes to learning at work, organisations will be prepared for whatever challenges lie ahead. In a truly adaptable workplace, learning is every worker’s constant companion, and people will be always learning. Careers Unbound: AI-based Personalised Coaching to Empower Your People The number one reason people choose to leave a company is because they don’t have the opportunity to learn and grow. In addition to career growth, people want to be seen and valued for their unique strengths. They want to feel a sense of purpose at work as detailed in a recent trend report from Mercer Consulting. They want continuous and frequent coaching sessions with their manager. They want to understand how to improve. They want to be supported on how to best challenge themselves while also maintaining a sense of well-being. They desire new experiences to help them put learning into practice and explore emergent interests. In essence, people want to be coached.  This will require organisations to re-examine how they support their workforce. The first step will be to transform managers into coaches. What makes coaches more effective is that they guide individuals, not roles, and they truly understand who they are coaching and where that person is headed. This means organisations will provide managers with tools to better understand their individual employees – such as their deep skills profiles, interests, personal and professional aspirations and their emotional well-being - as well as tools to help them apply that holistic information into more meaningful conversations and personalised career navigation. In addition to turning managers into coaches, organisations will find new ways to supplement employee guidance with AI-powered digital coaching tools. These types of tools will be embedded in the technology that employees are already using and will apply the employee’s personalised data to guide and make recommendations for growth and development. For example, after an employee completes a skill-building course, they will be recommended a sequence of more trainings and activities to truly bridge their skill divide. Additionally, employees will further benefit from AI-based recommendations, nudges and conversations with intelligent chatbots, which can do everything from suggesting a new training, to an upcoming project they might be interested in, to a role suited to their skills. These tools, combined with rich conversations with managers (powered by data), provide truly personalised career navigation that’s informed by an employee’s skills, experiences and aspirations resulting in them feeling more engaged and empowered in their careers. To help enable this vision, Cornerstone has launched Cornerstone Careers, a new product solution focused on helping employees to connect with their managers and navigate their careers. Cornerstone Careers includes Check Ins and Capabilities, and we’ll be adding more features in the coming months, including Career Center to help employees navigate their careers in a fully personalised way. Data Unbound: More Holistic People Data for Better People Decisions With technology has come an explosion of data and analytics. And for years, organisations have been striving to extract insights and important business value from people data. Yet, yesterday’s data sets fell short of giving organisations a holistic, meaningful understanding of their people both inside and outside of the organisation. Businesses crave more well-rounded, data-driven insights to know the whole person: their capabilities, strengths, experiences, aspirations, mood, learning preferences and well-being. Earlier this year, we took a big step in this area by acquiring Clustree, a French technology company that developed an industry-leading, AI-powered skills engine and extensive skills ontology to help organisations match their employees’ skills with specific job roles. The benefit of this comprehensive, elastic skills data set is twofold. First, the data will allow companies to dynamically develop and deploy the right skills to projects, roles and key investments. For example, looking at data across the global enterprise will allow companies to build teams that bring together the best skills and experiences regardless of geography. With data about both internal and external talent, companies will also be able to assemble the optimal mix inclusive of employees, candidates, contractors and freelancers. Second, and more importantly, more inclusive data will allow companies to improve their employees’ well-being, engagement and retention. Employees and their managers will be able to use this data in development conversations, for example, facilitating a hyper-personalised approach to growth instead of one-size fits all. And this data must be collected for the benefit and empowerment of the employee, rather than for productivity and efficiency tracking. Data can open up a more meaningful work-life experience that ultimately benefits both the employee and the business. Cornerstone Is Adapting and Evolving with You This extreme event we are currently experiencing, COVID-19, is proof that companies must be more agile than ever to succeed. And even after we move beyond this crisis, businesses can’t return to our previous state where it takes 18 months or more to pivot the workforce. When unforeseen forces arise, those businesses that are able to act quickly not only endure the change but thrive because of it. To build that agility, companies need to remove the constraints that were holding them back and embrace a new world of work that invites change and innovation. The emergence of this new world of work comes at a pivotal time for our company as well. With our recent acquisition of Saba, we are in an even better position to help our clients transition to this new reality. Not only will we increase the speed and scale of innovation, we now have access to nearly twice as much client data, enabling us to improve A.I. within our products. As a combined company, we are committed to accelerating these strategic innovation initiatives with the intent of helping companies address these sudden new challenges, create new opportunities and transform into a resilient unbound business.

How to Say Goodbye to an Employee
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How to Say Goodbye to an Employee

No matter how much effort you put into your talent management strategy, it is inevitable: at some point, an employee will leave the company. We always talk about the importance of onboarding and first impressions, but sometimes we do not pay due attention to the end of the employment relationship and the process of offboarding. Managing this last phase of the employee's life cycle is very important for several reasons. For example, one of the most striking changes we have seen in recent years is the increase in workers returning to a company after they have left. Making a good impression at the time of departure is essential to leave the door open for the same person to return to the organisation after having enriched their profile with new experiences at other companies. To ensure a successful offboarding you have to follow a series of steps, some of which will almost certainly be used in your company. But we have to go further. The first thing is to close everything that is pending. Ensure the employee that’s leaving the company has finished his or her tasks before leaving. They must then return any technological devices and other work materials that had been assigned to them. A pleasant relationship must be maintained with the employee at all times. It is not necessary to put on the farewell party of the century, but be cordial and have a positive attitude when they leave. There are times when organisations feel that their employees are indebted to them, but this is not the case. Everything that you have invested in the development of an employee has been returned to you in the form of hard work and responsibility. The most valuable moment of all this process is the exit interview, because it not only allows the employee to be heard but it helps the company improve or adjust their human capital management based on the feedback the employee gives. To get more valuable information, it is advisable to customise the interview and ask for answers that are as specific as possible. Although it is not part of the offboarding process itself, you must have a succession plan in place to cover your employees' outlets as soon as possible. For this, Cornerstone Succession is an indispensable ally that will allow you to know and develop the talent of your staff while promoting strategic succession, further increasing the involvement of employees. Offboarding well done can reinforce attracting talent and improving the company's reputation among candidates. By following these simple tips you will not have to worry about "bad language" or your ability to attract the best employees.

Is HR boring or cool?
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Is HR boring or cool?

It seems obvious to say that life is too short for the wrong job, and I already wrote on the role HR had to play to help make everyone's job interesting in their companies. Today, I'd like to focus more on the job of Human Resources as such. When talking about typical job descriptions, HR isn't the one that is first associated with the word "cool". You'd think about other positions such as design, publicist, PR, or in the engineering world R&D, product development... On the other hand, when you ask HR professionals for the reasons of their career path, you often hear them mention the human aspect of the work and the interaction with colleagues, which indeed sounds cool. Yet we all know that a significant part of HR work concerns administrative tasks, which seems to be extremely boring. This is even truer in some countries where labour laws are very complex, such as France or Germany for example. As we analysed in this survey on talent management within French companies (in French), local HRDs complain that they do not spend enough time in managing talents, compared to legal and administrative work. So the question is: how can HR focus more on cool tasks, and advertise for their true value added for the company? Indeed, in some ways you can compare HR and IT: usually, nobody talks about IT support when everything goes well. But if you have the slightest trouble with your laptop, you'll complain loudly and bother your IT colleagues until they fix the problem. It's exactly the same with HR administrative tasks: you expect your salary to be paid on time, and the information on your salary slip to be accurate. Yet if you find the slightest discrepancy, you'll run to HR until you know what happened. This is indeed completely normal, but you'll agree that this is by far not the most strategic HR task you could imagine, nor the most fascinating from an HR point of view... "Cool" doesn't mean "entertaining" either! Of course, it's nice to organise the Christmas party, or any other internal event at a company or office level. It's even an important part of socialising within the company, and shouldn't be underestimated as such activities are a way to communicate around the company culture. Yet HR role should not be reduced to internal communication, as it's only a part, albeit important, of their responsibilities. So what's the interesting part of the HR work? Basically, it could be any activity for which HR will be in contact with other departments, and where HR will contribute directly and visibly to the success of the team. For example: finding and recruiting a candidate for a position, and seeing him/her performing really well suggesting an internal candidate for a position, and boosting his/her motivation and performance in this new role organising a well-planned new hire onboarding and measuring a decrease in turnover organising a training plan and observing a real difference in the employees' skills, and hence results planning for succession and being able to bring an efficient solution when a high performer leaves the company organising a really useful performance review where employees can get positive feedback, and seeing a much higher completion rate managing a performance-based compensation plan, and getting higher employee satisfaction as they feel they are fairly rewarded In all those cases, I believe an HR professional will truly enjoy his/her job and be recognised as being a strong asset for the company. Isn't that cool?

Announcing the 2020 Cornerstone RAVE Award Winners
Blog Post

Announcing the 2020 Cornerstone RAVE Award Winners

On behalf of the Cornerstone team, I’m excited to share details about this year’s Cornerstone RAVE Award winners. RAVE stands for Remarkable Achievements and Visionary Elites, a designation to recognise and honour organisations that have developed and implemented innovative approaches to using our solutions. Since our first-ever virtual, global conference, Cornerstone Convergence, brought together our expanded community of both Cornerstone and Saba customers, our awards programme too honours the achievements of our global combined customer base of more than 6,300 organisations. We were humbled by the number of customers that submitted their organisation’s stories for recognition. Selecting the winners across so many nominations was no small task. Please join us in congratulating these organisations across North America and EMEA, whose recruiting, learning, performance and career programmes stood out – and embodied our shared mission of engaging and developing extraordinary people to deliver extraordinary results. Learning Strategy Innovation Winners: BNP Paribas; Sunbelt Rentals; Teleperformance; VMWare About the award: This category recognises organisations that have implemented new learning strategies, techniques and methods to drive tangible talent and business outcomes. BNP Paribas BNP Paribas used Cornerstone Learning to support a knowledge-sharing culture that empowers employees to drive their own development. As a result, employees are more aware of the diverse development opportunities available to them and can obtain the right learning intervention when and where they need it. Sunbelt Rentals Sunbelt used Cornerstone Learning to develop an innovative approach to track and report on a multi-month, adaptive learning programme during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new process and approach provides managers with real-time data when and where they need it, to drive organisational performance. Teleperformance Teleperformance deployed a broad set of learning to engage their global workforce and create a change-ready culture. They used Saba Cloud to enhance executive communication during remote work, implement online mentoring, personalise learning to support upskilling, and shift the mix of learning content delivery and adoption from compliance to locally developed regional content. VMWare Using Saba Cloud, VMWare created a new skills and competency framework allowing them to deliver more personalised and targeting training experiences for their people faster. The new skills framework also ensured even closer alignment to the strategic needs of the business. “We are pleased to be recognised for our learning strategy innovation at this year’s RAVE Awards,” said Sanjeev Kumar, Senior Business Process Architect, VMWare. “Through this partnership, we have been able to develop a skills competency framework used to influence learning paths and simplify course selection and offerings with an 80% reduction in time.” Transformational HR & Talent Strategy Winners: Broadway Bank; Sobi About the award: This category recognises organisations that have applied new technology and approaches spanning multiple HR processes to drive tangible talent impact and business outcomes. Broadway Bank With Cornerstone Learning, Performance & Recruiting suites, Broadway Bank created a continuous performance and development culture to engage employees with coaching, feedback, development and recognition, in support of employee career growth and, ultimately, client satisfaction. Broadway Bank’s retention initiatives also use Cornerstone to support its progressive internal mobility and leadership development programmes. Sobi Sobi has undergone a significant undertaking in migrating from multiple local HR systems and decentralised processes to one global HCM solution using Cornerstone HR. With Cornerstone its new process empowers employees, managers and local HR to own their data and create a “digital employment life cycle.” This change has allowed Sobi to utilise its data to add value, not only to the HR processes, but also to contribute with clarity, agility and efficiency to other important business functions and processes. Cornerstone has enabled Sobi to take a big step forward in its digital transformation journey. Impact on User Adoption Winners: Nestlé; TravelCenters of America; Veritas Technologies; About the award: This award recognises organisations who have successfully driven adoption of new product capabilities, expanded usage of solutions across departments, geographies or business units, and expanded employee utilisation through innovative programmes. Nestlé Having deployed Cornerstone eight years ago, Nestlé faced the challenge of continuously increasing user adoption in such a mature product. By focusing on improving access to the right learning content and enabling learners to experience a journey of development through playlists, Nestlé was able to significantly increase average time spent on learning and hit a milestone number of visits per month on the learning platform. “We’re thrilled to be recognised at this year’s Cornerstone RAVE Awards for our success in driving user adoption.” said Jo-Anne Rossouw, Head of Digital Learning, Nestlé. “Cornerstone, together with our IT Learning Product Team, have helped us achieve our two key adoption focuses for 2020 of improving access to the right learning content, and enabling learners to experience a journey of development through Playlists”. TravelCenters of America TravelCenters of America launched Cornerstone Learning as the foundation to establishing a learning culture in the organisation. Branding the solution “MyTA” the team quickly pivoted with the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic to weave a consistent message through communications, videos and job aids to reinforce how using MyTA would provide new opportunities to develop and grow in employees’ current roles, and help them prepare for the next step in their career. One major result of this strategy: 72% of employees logged into MyTA within the first 30 days, completing 8,000 courses! Veritas Technologies With Saba Cloud, Veritas Technologies launched a highly powerful, revenue-generating consolidated single learning system used by three different type of learner groups: employees, customers and partners. As a result, Veritas’ learning team can easily publish, track and maintain learning activities, empowering 18,000 users with diverse training requirements to quickly find and take the training they need. The organisation has seen system utilisation grow by 60%, enrolments go up by 45%, and reduced cases from learners by more than 200 per month. Advancement in Reinventing Work Winner: Public Storage About the award: This year recognises change makers who have implemented new ways to attract and retain the best talent and capitalised on the collective knowledge, skills, and performance of their people.  Public Storage Public Storage rolled out a highly adopted digital badge recognition programme within Cornerstone Learning in support of its goal to foster a culture of recognition at all levels of the organisation. As a result of this initiative, employees are empowered to reinforce high performance through meaningful, personal feedback aligned to organisational values and priorities. Reinventing Recruiting Winners: Henkel; myjobscotland About this award: This category recognises organisations that have progressively evolved their talent acquisition processes to improve their candidate experience, recruiting metrics and attract and hire the best people to prepare their organisations for the future.  Henkel Thanks to the focus, agile mindset, ownership, empowerment and the exceptional collaboration of its global project team, Henkel managed to implement a unified global talent acquisition system within 12 months and without interruption so recruiters could continue to work seamlessly. Thoughtful planning drove a blueprint for success, which led to increases in applicants and improved conversion rates, and a streamlined experience for candidates. myjobscotland myjobscotland used the TalentLink solution and implemented asynchronous video interviewing to help its member councils across Scotland discover and attract the best candidates into key roles. This virtual recruiting approach has been particularly important to continuously fill open positions during the pandemic and allows applicants to share the best version of themselves in the process. In doing so myjobscotland has been able to significantly decrease time-to-offer and time-to–hire, with rave reviews from candidates and hiring managers on the experience. "In line with our continual improvement strategy of our offering Councils (and other third parties) more functions whilst keeping the costs down, the COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated our need to implement a video recruitment strategy in TalentLink, and within myjobscotland.” says Douglas Shirlaw, Chief Digital Officer at COSLA. “We are very proud to have been able to design, engage and deliver this in less than a week for each of the 10 councils. The outcome reflects the professionalism, enthusiasm, commitment and togetherness of the myjobscotland team, as well as Council HR teams doing everything they could to make this a success in their regions under some particularly challenging circumstances." Visionary in Performance Management Winners: GB Group Plc; Horace Mann; HM Electronics About this award: This award recognises organisations that have engaged their employees through meaningful performance processes to improve organisational effectiveness and business outcomes. GB Group Plc GB Group Plc created a culture that supports ongoing performance conversations using Cornerstone Performance and built-in Check-Ins. By offering a simple, interactive way for its people and managers to stay aligned, engaged and focused on achieving their potential, GB Group Plc met all three of its key objectives in implementing Cornerstone: improve the quality and frequency of performance conversations, raise the bar of performance, and ensure clear alignment between what each employee does and the business mission. Horace Mann Horace Mann successfully implemented a quarterly performance management process with a focus on coaching, feedback and employee development versus performance ratings. This new ongoing performance management process has evolved Horace Mann to a culture in which performance conversations are a way of life, with employees leading the conversation and proactively driving their own development and performance. “Our need to be able to quickly adapt and change course makes the concept of an annual performance review an outdated one that no longer meets the needs of our business,” said Susan Dudley, Talent Management System Analyst, Horace Mann. “With Cornerstone as well as the support of executive leadership, our change management plan and the desire for a change from the current process, we have successfully adapted our performance management strategy to meet the needs of today.” HM Electronics In 2019, HM Electronics adopted Saba Cloud to support the performance and development needs of its rapidly growing workforce. Using both performance and learning within Saba, HM Electronics has created a tight connection between both coaching, development and training, with deep insight on programme metrics. Building on its success using peer-to-peer “impressions” within the system, HM Electronics continues to foster a strong company-wide feedback culture. Congratulations to the 2020 RAVE Award Winners! Congratulations to all this year’s winners and sincere thanks to the thousands of customers around the world who continue to partner with Cornerstone to drive your talent strategies forward! To learn more about how Cornerstone customers are delivering innovative talent strategies using Cornerstone solutions, check out the many customer success stories shared at Cornerstone Convergence in September. While the conference has come and gone, all sessions are available on demand until October 31, 2020. Access the on-demand sessions here.

Cornerstone Originals — It's our first birthday!
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Cornerstone Originals — It's our first birthday!

Just about a year ago, we launched our first-ever Cornerstone Originals learning series — Digital Native Advancement (DNA) — and watched with excitement as our customers took it and ran! DNA embodied everything we wanted in our flagship Cornerstone Original. It was innovative and strategic, but it also captured our goal of amplifying a trending topic in a new way. And that type of innovation doesn’t come easy. This team — Cornerstone Studios — represents the best of the content business. We’re storytellers, videographers, writers, curators, dreamers, strategists, artists, but most of all, we’re a team of learners. And over the past year, this team has accomplished incredible things. We’ve stretched ourselves to create and innovate through constraints — and boy did we have a lot of constraints in 2020. The biggest of which was when our workplace shifted overnight from in-person to work-from-home. We closed both our New York and Los Angeles Studios back in March. And since then — for most of the first year of Cornerstone Originals — we’ve had to find a new way to produce content. Enter the Cornerstone Boom Box — our remote production kits. Our team valiantly took on the task of shooting all new footage using iPhone 11s and remote set-directing through WebEx without missing a beat! All in all, we produced 10(!) Cornerstone Originals using the Cornerstone Boom Box. It’s been an honor to lead such a talented, hardworking team and to see everything they’ve accomplished in the face of adversity during the first year of Cornerstone Originals. For those of you who have been with us along this journey, thank you. We’re just getting started. You’ll love what we have planned for this next year. Stay tuned to find out. If you’re not as familiar with all of the great Cornerstone Originals content, you can explore it here. This blog was originally posted in ReWork.

Employee Engagement: Four questions to ask yourself
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Employee Engagement: Four questions to ask yourself

It’s safe to say, there are huge organisational benefits to good employee engagement – from higher productivity to lower turnover rates, and everything in between. In the first of our masterclass series in association with HEC Paris, we look past the jargon and share our no-nonsense tips for employee engagement. We’ve summarised below the key points made in this first masterclass, but we would definitely encourage you to watch the webinar and hear the real-life stories behind this practical advice, and learn more about how this could be applied specifically within your own organisation. Creating high employee engagement goes both ways, needing the employer and employee equally onboard. HR’s role is to facilitate good engagement, being mindful not to simply create rules and processes which can be too rigid and stifle collaboration. Whether you’re thinking of reviewing your employee engagement initiatives or looking for inspiration, ask yourself these questions to stay on track. Have you defined what employee engagement means for you? Defining engagement means different things for different people and different organisations. What’s important is that the definition of engagement is clear to everyone in your organisation – whether it’s moral involvement and emotional commitment to a firm, or the opposite to burn out. Have you ensured engagement isn’t siloed? Most organisations have various departments, and it’s not unusual for slightly different cultures to develop within these separate departments. But it’s important to bring everyone together and break down the walls so that good engagement runs across the organisation as a whole. It must be a top down approach, and managers need to be on the same page so that everyone collectively moves in the same direction. You can’t be what you can’t see – if leaders want engaged teams, they must engage themselves. Also, careers are journeys and organisations can’t expect employees to be happy in one role forever. Employees who are given the chance to collaborate with other departments may be inspired to move laterally to feed their curiosity and hunger for trying new things. Have you created the space for engagement? It’s not about control, it’s about building a great culture where engaged employees thrive. It could be that there are parts of your organisation where groups of employees are already engaged, so sometimes it’s not about creating something new but promoting best practice that already exists within your organisation. HR must think framework over process, with the idea of creating consistency and clarity. Good engagement is closely linked to culture and values – for example, making it ok to make mistakes when trying new things or encouraging autonomy with clear expectations. Most importantly of all, every employee needs to be engaged to reap the best benefits and for that to happen you must communicate clearly, regularly and to every level of employee equally. Have you set up the right metrics and measures to track success? Once you’ve defined what employee engagement is to you, you can set your metrics for success, aligning to your mission as an organisation. Typical metrics are retention, productivity and length of time at an organisation. But there are many forms of measurement, and many ways to collect this insight within your organisation. Of course, there’s employee feedback surveys, but the performance review is also an under-used but opportune time to collect feedback, particularly when you’ve just implemented new initiatives. How much have you facilitated collaboration? What has made them more engaged? Managers must be given extra guidance on asking the right questions. And even the engaged employees who have left your organisation can be extremely valuable as brand ambassadors. Technology is a great asset to HR – it allows visibility of good/bad engagement levels and enables more collaboration. There are no quick fixes to addressing employee engagement, but even small changes can lead to huge benefits for both employer and employee. Do join us on more of our masterclasses where we will be covering knowledge sharing, planning for the future and more!

Getting the most from virtual events
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Getting the most from virtual events

For the past few months, everything has been online. Conferences, meetings, training and even concerts and theatre performances. While we are close to returning to some sense of normality, it will be a while before in person events make their return. Some are suggesting we may not have in person events until at least 2021. So, many are deciding to either try their hand at their first virtual event or even moving their annual events online. With so many happening, how do you get the most out of these events and make yours stand out? For attendees Many of us have been attending online events, especially during the peak of lockdown. But sometimes it’s far too easy to put the event on in the background and carry on with your day and by doing this, you aren’t going to get the most out of the experience. Treating a virtual event like an in-person one can really help – and this means both preparing before the day and finding ways to engage during. Before the event, you want to ensure that you aren’t going to be disturbed on the day, so you should let your colleagues know you are unavailable. You could even set up an out of office or change your settings to ‘do not disturb’. Following this, you can download the agenda and find any pre-event content, so you are fully prepared for the day ahead. And of course, remember to charge all your devices if you’re tuning in outside of your home office! Attending an event virtually can also help ease pressure. For example, there is no obligation to wear uncomfortable shoes or clothing and there is no worry of feeling exhausted after a long day of walking around. Virtual events also eliminate the need for travel, saving both time and expense. Not everyone has the luxury of working alone at home, so for those with children, needy pets or other priorities, online events will often have pre-recorded content, which will allow you to step away to tend to other matters if needed, or even just grab a coffee! You can do this without fear of missing anything. During the event, try to make the most of the tools provided, and where possible, try to use a webcam – this will help the experience feel more real. Most importantly, make sure that you are interacting with the talks and content, networking in breakout rooms and socialising, exactly as you would if you were attending a “physical” event in person. For hosts Hosting these events can be really difficult with so many factors to consider. When it comes to making the most of the situation as a host, your main goal here is to ensure that the event stands out and is remembered. Whether this is with a live music guest performance, interactive games or even trophies for your attendees to collect, it’s important to make sure that you are doing something different to the rest. Your audience is key, so making the experience personalised and relevant is the first step. This can be done by sending personalised gifts such as vouchers, swag or hampers to your attendees - in person events will always offer free things, so doing this can help to make it feel more “real”. You can also find ways to involve the audience - perhaps through social media hashtags, prizes or even exit polls. And you can use the data from the polls elsewhere too! For speakers Being a speaker at a virtual event, whether pre-recorded or live, can be nerve wracking, but it can also be a great opportunity to improve your skill. I recommend a live Q&A with a pre-recorded session. Being able to interact with the audience in real-time means they will get the most out of the talk and allow for a super engaging and ‘normal’ experience. With pre-recorded talks, the pressure of technical issues is removed, meaning if you have small children around wanting to crash the party, or just an unstable internet connection on that day, your speaking slot remains uninterrupted. This also allows for more flexibility and engagement. For example, you have the option to interweave other content such as videos and infographics to help illustrate your points better. And if your session was pre-recorded, you can be active in the comments section to answer any questions from the audience directly! Beyond delivering a great talk, it is what you do after that really counts. For example, if you run out of time for everyone’s questions, take them into a breakout room to get them answered or respond via email – this will not only help you come across as a more approachable speaker, but will also improve the audience’s experience. Similarly, if you can, try to gather feedback - for example by asking attendees to submit a star rating and a comment. Doing this will really help guarantee that as a speaker you get the most out of the event and can improve before your next virtual event appearance! It seems that virtual events are here to stay for the foreseeable future, and with these tips, you can hopefully make the most of any events you are attending, hosting or speaking at. And to really put these tips to the test, make sure you keep September 16th and 17th free as our annual Cornerstone Convergence is going virtual! At Convergence Unbound, you’ll be able to create a more personalised experience by building your own agenda from a whole host of sessions. We have a range of breakouts covering subjects like product strategy and bold thinking, with guest speakers from Nestle, IKEA, Electrolux and many more. And because we are online, there is room for everyone to join. You can register for free here. And, who knows, you could win a prize!

Cornerstone Performance: Connect employee goals with business outcomes
Datasheet

Cornerstone Performance: Connect employee goals with business outcomes

Ensuring that all of your people are motivated and engaged can be challenging. You need them to find purpose in what they’re doing while aligning that purpose with your organisation’s goals. With its detailed insights into your talent landscape, Cornerstone Performance helps you quickly identify and mobilise employees to solve your organisation’s top priorities.

Cornerstone Learning: A complete learning experience for everyone
Datasheet

Cornerstone Learning: A complete learning experience for everyone

Today’s ever-changing business conditions require you to be adaptable, drive productivity, and continue to test the resiliency and growth of your organisation. To reach the level of agility today demands, you need to connect your people’s success to your organisation’s success. With Cornerstone Learning, you can deliver modern learning at scale to your people. And when you can connect your people, data, content, and systems, you’ll optimise your continuous talent development

Cornerstone HR: Better people data. Better decisions.
Datasheet

Cornerstone HR: Better people data. Better decisions.

By centralising HR record management and connecting data to skills, you can create a better experience for your people. A successful HR project requires quality employee and organisational data. With Cornerstone HR, you’ll give your employees and managers the ability to directly view and edit their data, equipping you with up-to-date information for better strategic planning. Your HR department can easily trigger essential processes and initiate key events such as developing improvement plans, tracking probation periods, and managing onboarding and offboarding.

Cornerstone Extended Enterprise: Reimagine how you engage your customers and  partners
Datasheet

Cornerstone Extended Enterprise: Reimagine how you engage your customers and partners

The rapidly evolving world of work requires you to be dynamic and adaptable. How you align critical stakeholders to your organisation is now an even more significant organisational demand. Built to be as flexible and unique as your business, Cornerstone Extended Enterprise helps you scale your organisation and ensure your external audiences are informed and adopting your latest offerings.

Build a resilient and skilled workforce
Whitepaper

Build a resilient and skilled workforce

How we live, work, socialise, and learn is changing. Skills and roles are rapidly shifting. Developing talent today requires more flexibility to meet the evolving nature of work and skills. So to ensure your organisation’s success today and going forward, you need a new model that empowers employees with tools for setting and developing meaningful goals and growth pathways. Cornerstone Xplor is that model. Download this report to learn more about Cornerstone Xplor and how it revolutionises the way organisations and their people learn, grow, and evolve their skills.

Deliver continuous, personalised learning for everyone
Datasheet

Deliver continuous, personalised learning for everyone

Training, skills, mobility, and succession are what drive the success of your people and organisation. With Saba Cloud Learning, you can put employees in the driver’s seat of their development and align learning with your organisation’s goals and strategies to increase performance, stay competitive, and improve employee engagement.

Cornerstone Recruiting: Hire and retain the best talent
Datasheet

Cornerstone Recruiting: Hire and retain the best talent

Tight labor markets make it challenging for organisations around the world to find and keep top talent. But the right talent management software can help your organisation be more than just competitive. Your organisation can find the best people, match them to their perfect role, and set them up for success with personalised onboarding. With Cornerstone Recruiting, you’ll have the tools you need to attract the best-fit candidates, uncover hidden talent, and save time and effort.

Generali: Investing in people through skills development and personalisation
Case Study

Generali: Investing in people through skills development and personalisation

Generali is an Italian insurance company and is among the top ten largest firms in its sector globally with over 55 million customers. The company operates in a fast-paced environment so is focussed on training and providing ongoing skills development opportunities for its people. However, when the pandemic and lockdown restrictions hit, Generali needed to find a way to pivot its people development programme, and with over 75,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide, this was not going to be an easy task. Beyond making learning accessible for everyone, the company needed to ensure that its learning was both engaging and personalised too. So, Generali created the We LEARN platform, a succinct global platform, powered by Cornerstone OnDemand, with interactive and high-quality courses that allows its people to access learning in their own time, from anywhere in the world. Employees can now tailor, personalise and take control of their own learning. Why Cornerstone? Generali needed a learning platform powerful enough to not only ensure learning content was accessible and easy to consume worldwide, but also pushed its people to learn and identify key skills gaps for a personalised learning experience. The company’s aim is to reskill at least 50% of the workforce by the end of 2021 and equip them to excel in their current and future job roles. To do this, it needed a common working space, that incorporated both interactive and social activities, via a platform that is easily accessible for all to help spread skills across the community. Generali required different levels of training from mandatory training for new starters to highly focussed training for new and emerging roles. Cornerstone’s Learning solution allowed Generali to create its bespoke We LEARN platform to meet these goals by enabling users to access learning tailored directly to them. The Results Prioritising personalised learning: The We LEARN platform is broken down in foundation courses, new role schools, new skills for evolving roles, readymade courses, and local training. This ensures specialised training routes for all learning needs. We LEARN helps Generali’s people to meet expectations through short and interactive ‘sprints’ allowing an agile and bitesize approach to learning. Closing skills gaps: All employees start their journey by undergoing a skills assessment to help them understand where the gaps in their knowledge are. Since implementing the programme, over 20,000 users assessed their skills and 200 new skills courses have been added, with 60 brand news skills identified. Diversified content for futureproofing: With the new role schools and new skills for evolving roles, Generali’s people can make sure that they are aptly equipped to succeed in their current role while futureproofing and preparing for any future changes. The platform is now filled with content for all needs including 5,000 titles on managerial and professional skills from Cornerstone’s Content Anytime offering. All content is available through webinars, set curriculums, shorter content, and gamification so learners can learn in a way that suits them while also having fun. Facilitates life-long engaged learners: In the space of just six months, Generali clocked an average of 21,000 monthly unique user logins and each user is accessing the platform just over 3.6 times per month on average. The platform is clear, simple, easy to use, personalised and inviting, as well as adding value to learners and prioritising their needs. The carrousel style content library with personalised recommendations allows employees to take control of their learning, see the importance and effectiveness of it and adopt it long term.

We LEARN at Generali. Reskilling at scale and speed.
Video

We LEARN at Generali. Reskilling at scale and speed.

Reskilling and upskilling topped this year’s L&D Global Sentiment Survey as key concerns in the profession – but how do you do both and at scale? Find out how Generali's We:LEARN programme achieved this globally in this video.

Gemalto discusses how they drove improvements in efficiency of managing training
Video

Gemalto discusses how they drove improvements in efficiency of managing training

Foster + Partners: Designing innovative learning through digital solutions
Case Study

Foster + Partners: Designing innovative learning through digital solutions

Foster + Partners is one of the most renowned and innovative architecture and integrated design studios in the world, responsible for outstanding architecture projects including the Gherkin and the Reichstag. In the architecture and design industry, learning is considered a key way to beat the competition, making knowledge and training a keystone in Foster + Partners’ business process, culture and overall success. All architects must complete 35 hours of CPD training to maintain RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) accreditation and Foster + Partners must also track new industry trends, tools and ways of working. Keeping up with a fast-paced industry and understanding new disciplines such as BIM (Building Information Modelling) was the challenge. The wealth of knowledge that Foster + Partners did already possess was also unstructured and dispersed across the organisation, causing difficulties in recognising skills gaps. As such, the team needed a centralised system to capture this knowledge and help staff learn anywhere, anytime, adopting the necessary new professional skills to maintain their RIBA accreditation and improve employees’ personal development. Why Cornerstone? More than simply introducing a learning platform, Foster + Partners wanted to ensure a high adoption rate and full engagement with the system. Foster + Partners’ learning and development programme was transformed to make it something their employees wanted to do. To do this, Foster + Partners needed a LMS which could be implemented and adopted quickly, but also offered flexibility to keep up with the ever-changing industry standards. The system had to be easily tailored to reflect the Foster + Partners brand, making it intuitive and simple but matching the company’s design pedigree. The platform also needed to put the focus on the user experience with a maximum of three clicks for users to reach the content they wanted. The Results Centralised and increased knowledge. With the new LMS, training and expertise from across the organisation are now available on one simple platform which can be accessed anywhere through any device. Employees have access to more than 300 hours of CPD events and content items to complete their mandatory CPD hour requirements and help maintain their accreditation. Beyond just technical skills, users can now also access personal, professional, technological and role-specific development training. Previously, there was no training for personal development. Higher employee engagement. The Cornerstone platform has had an impressive 90% adoption rate and facilitated a marked increase in training workshops uptake, with completion rates jumping from 312 to 2,122 in a 12-month period. Attendance at CPD courses has also greatly increased from 289 to 603 attendees. This in part has resulted from the highly intuitive and personalised user interface, with the creation of over 200 customised pages and most content being available in just three clicks. Ensured talent readiness. Employees who have not completed certain training can be identified on a reporting dashboard and remedied quickly. In the same way, this enables the easy identification of any potential skills gaps to help futureproof the success of the business. Improved cost effectiveness. The ability to better understand and predict where to invest resources has also streamlined processes and lowered administration costs for the Learning & Development team. This has also improved reporting to justify these investments on a business level to the executive suite. Boosted company profitability. The capacity to quickly identify any training or skills gaps also means that new initiatives such as BIM can be adopted and taken advantage of fast, improving the commercial competitiveness of the organisation. Improved employer branding. Foster + Partners has achieved Top Employer status from the Top Employers Institute for the first time this year.

Farmers Mutual Group (FMG): Evolving a forward-thinking new learning culture in a well-established Mutual
Case Study

Farmers Mutual Group (FMG): Evolving a forward-thinking new learning culture in a well-established Mutual

Farmers Mutual Group (FMG), New Zealand’s leading rural insurer, is relationship focussed and heavily invested in the rural communities it supports. It is equally invested in its own employees’ engagement, growth and development. Farmers Mutual Group (FMG), New Zealand’s leading rural insurer, is relationship focussed and heavily invested in the rural communities it supports. It is equally invested in its own employees’ engagement, growth and development. However FMG’s Learning & Development Team recognised that learning could contribute much more to the employee experience - and that their largely classroom-based approach to training wasn’t going to keep pace with employee needs or best support the success of the Mutual over the next 100 years. With the help of some powerful Cornerstone technologies, they’ve started to discreetly seed into the company a new culture of continuous and collaborative learning. This evocatively-named initiative is the team’s five-year strategy to evolve FMG’s culture to one of continuous learning. Their plan: To lead thinking and get ahead of learning needs, rather than be reactive and deliver training as requested. To make learning more fluid, more liberating - a continuous, self-directed, anywhere, anytime part of everyone’s workflow, rather than something structured and imposed from above. To instil in their own L&D team a vision and mission and better ways to measure their contribution to the company’s next 100 years of success. They haven’t, however, tried to change the landscape overnight. This is an evolution not a revolution. Instead, in a thoughtful plan set out over three carefully staged horizons, they’re progressively introducing new approaches - proving their success - sharing results - and partnering with colleagues to take Freedom To Learn forward step by step.

Fletcher Building: Transforming safety culture across a far-flung, high-risk business
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Fletcher Building: Transforming safety culture across a far-flung, high-risk business

Why Cornerstone Fletcher Building is an Auckland NZ-based global construction group with a heartfelt mission to see that everyone gets home safely every night. This is constantly challenged by the type of hard, high-risk, injury-prone work they do. Not satisfied with a safety incident rate merely on par with industry norms, they embarked on an unprecedented global learning and culture change initiative, made possible by their integrated Learning Management System (LMS) from Cornerstone. Business Impact: Engaged over 20,000 employees from more than 30 business units in 30 countries using 19 different languages in the company’s first-ever global safety learning initiative. Contributed to a measurable drop in the Total Recordable Injury Frequency Rates and spurred rollout of further eLearning initiatives.

Innovation, Flexibility and Intuition at DEME. Powered by Cornerstone
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Innovation, Flexibility and Intuition at DEME. Powered by Cornerstone

Hans Casier, Human Resources Director at DEME, talks about the importance of innovation at his organisation, and why Cornerstone’s flexible and intuitive platform aligns with the group’s goals and culture.

Coats: Thread manufacturer helps employees sew their own career path
Case Study

Coats: Thread manufacturer helps employees sew their own career path

Coats is the world’s leading industrial thread manufacturer. At home in more than 50 countries, Coats employs 19,000 people across six continents. Coats’ pioneering history and innovative culture ensure the company leads the way around the world: providing complementary and value added products and services to the apparel and footwear industries; applying innovative techniques to develop high technology Performance Materials threads and yarns in areas such as automotive, composites and fibre optics; and extending the crafts offer into new markets and online. Headquartered in the UK, Coats is a FTSE 250 listed company on the London Stock Exchange. It is the Official Thread Supplier to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Coats prides itself on its pioneering attitude and has a vision to provide employees with an environment that offers them growth to reach their maximum potential. In 2013, the company implemented Cornerstone Learning Management and Performance Management to help drive this vision forward and to modernise its way of doing compliance training. However, in 2016, internal feedback showed that more people sought developmental training too and Coats needed a solution. Why Cornerstone? Coats had been using Cornerstone’s solutions for several years with successful results in compliance and performance management, so it was a natural decision for it to want to make use of Cornerstone’s Learning Management platform more broadly. Around the same time, Cornerstone had also recently introduced its Content Services offering, which allows companies to have a one-stop shop for delivering content that’s carefully curated and from the world’s leading providers. Coats implemented Cornerstone’s Content Services offering in 2017 to complement its existing Cornerstone solutions, as it knew it would allow the company to deliver developmental training quickly and effectively. It wouldn’t require Coats to manually upload any content itself, which could have slowed down the process, and it liked that Cornerstone would manage the content updates too. Coats also knew that its people would need to be able to search for and filter learning content to find what they want, and Cornerstone’s Content Services platform would allow this and also enable it to create specific learning playlists for people to ‘follow’. The Results Global content bank: By implementing Cornerstone Content Services, Coats has enabled cross-country learning for its staff around the world. Its employees can now access more than 5,000 pieces of learning content, on a variety of subject areas and in up to 12 languages. Improved compliance and internal communication: Cornerstone Learning Management allows Coats to track and ensure that its workforce is compliant in essential areas such as anti-bribery, competition law, ethics, data protection, cyber security and more. Cornerstone Content Services is also helping the company provide further information and education on internal changes, such as through a new playlist on change management. Greater employee collaboration and productivity: Cornerstone Content Services is driving innovative ways of learning and greater employee collaboration among its workforce. After seeing the playlists on the platform, the Coats Digital and Technology team asked to create a playlist to answer frequently asked questions about its new service portals. This playlist meant the Digital and Technology team could direct employee queries to the playlist, allowing them more time to carry on with strategic tasks Enablement of self-directed learning: Through Cornerstone Content Services, Coats employees now have access to learning content from more than 30 learning content providers, including Skillsoft, Skillpill, CEGOS and Litmos Heroes. Employees can now take charge of their learning journey beyond just compliance, while Coats can also ensure talent readiness among its people and grow its leadership pipeline.

Citizen M shares how Cornerstone supports their ambitious growth plans
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Citizen M shares how Cornerstone supports their ambitious growth plans

Annemieke Wachter, HR Director, talks about Citizen M’s ambitious plans to more than double number of hotels by 2020, and how Cornerstone supports those plans, providing a platform to recruit and develop the right talent to enable the organisation to grow.

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

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.

CGL: Improving learning and performance capability through advanced digital solutions
Case Study

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.”

Nasdaq BWise: Improving and sharing knowledge, digitally
Case Study

Nasdaq BWise: Improving and sharing knowledge, digitally

Acquired by Nasdaq two years ago, BWise now forms the keystone for its GRC technology portfolio, offering leading software solutions for Risk Management, Internal Audit and Compliance. Knowledge is a key driver for BWise and training is an integral part of how the business works. BWise has to ensure that its own consultants, partners and through them clients, are always fully up-to-date with their knowledge of the products and that they are all sufficiently trained in using, configuring and maintaining the BWise system. Complex software implementation means that clients, in particular, require a lot of training. With products offered in a range of languages and 10 international offices; employees, partners and customers are also multi-lingual and dispersed worldwide. Previously, training and learning was not centralised, resulting in BWise being unable to properly share crucial knowledge. Clients would often only have access to outdated information, resulting in them using the system incorrectly Why Cornerstone In order to offer centralised knowledge and learning to its employees, partners and clients, BWise recognised the need for a LMS. Beyond formal learning, BWise also needed a system which could facilitate further, continuous training through a more interactive platform, where users and experts could exchange queries and information, creating a virtual knowledge community. The Academy manager had previously worked with many other providers but was won over by Cornerstone; demanding for BWise to use it when he was onboarded onto the team. Unlike some other providers, every aspect that BWise needed was integrated into one, simple solution, whilst also offering full functional flexibility. Initial implementation took less than six weeks, with BWise rst implementing Learning, supplemented by practical training and learning on the job and then Connect. This enabled BWise to create their collaborative virtual knowledge centre with different communities for users to ask questions and discuss topics. After all aspects of implementation were completed, Cornerstone has continued to listen to BWise’s suggestions and still does, maintaining a long-term relationship of support. The Results Centralised knowledge and training. All knowledge and training is now available on one single platform. BWise can provide consistent, relevant knowledge to the right person at the right time, where learning is driven by the user and their speci c needs. As a result of this, BWise has noticed a signi cant increase in the knowledge level of users, proven by assessment results. BWise has also witnessed an improvement in reporting along with better information management. Creation of a virtual knowledge centre. Despite users being dispersed worldwide, they now have full access to all training and learning materials through a virtual knowledge centre. Thanks to Connect, users also have direct contact with internal and external experts for the first time. Internal and external experts have a set number of hours per week dedicated to answering questions and posting documents, ensuring their quality and that they are always fully up-to-date. Improved client satisfaction. Cornerstone has enabled BWise to offer a fully comprehensive knowledge and training service for its clients that it previously was unable to provide. This was at the forefront of the demands from BWise’s partners and clients and has resolved previous issues of clients incorrectly using BWise products. Clients have been particularly satis ed with the look and ease of use of the platform. Facilitated a Certification Programme. Cornerstone has enabled over 100 of BWise’s partners to become formally certi ed in BWise software and to easily re-certify. Ability to identify industry trends. Based on what is being most discussed on Connect, BWise is now able to identify industry trends and requirements, as well as recognise what training and which products need changing and developing. Increased sales. The project never had any nancial objectives but, through offering this service, BWise is now also expected to sell more licenses, greatly contributing to company revenue as a result.

Banca Mediolanum: Embarking on a comprehensive talent development journey I Client Spotlight
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Banca Mediolanum: Embarking on a comprehensive talent development journey I Client Spotlight

Atlas Hotels: Upgrading recruitment to provide a premium candidate experience
Case Study

Atlas Hotels: Upgrading recruitment to provide a premium candidate experience

Why Cornerstone? Atlas Hotels needed a good quality applicant tracking service system to act as a recruitment hub. TalentLink, Cornerstone’s Recruiting solution, was able to bring more structure to Atlas Hotels’ recruitment process and offered greater ability to sort through candidates and identify suitable talent. It also offered the flexibility needed and could be configured to exactly what Atlas Hotels required. Having the ability to use integrations, such as DocuSign and interview scheduling tools, enabled Atlas Hotels to have all recruitment processes and tools in one convenient place, making TalentLink the one-stop-shop for everything recruitment. Atlas Hotels also needed automation in place so that every single candidate heard back about their application to help build a pleasant, simple and frictionless candidate experience, regardless of whether they were offered the job or not. TalentLink, provided the additional functionality and configuration to automate this experience to make it more personalised, without needing a huge amount of continuous manual input. The Results Better candidate experience: The application process has been drastically simplified, asking for minimal details and putting ease-of-use front and centre. With TalentLink, Atlas Hotels now has pre-written and pre-uploaded customised and branded templates for responses to candidates. All applicants are contacted about their application progress and receive responses tailored to them. Reduced time to hire: Atlas Hotels set a target of 25 days time to hire. Before implementation, the time to hire was 36 days, reducing to 24.4 days in just one month following the first stage of implementation and dropping to 16.3 after the second, resulting in more than a 50% reduction within the first year. Early feedback from managers shows candidates seem more engaged and fit with values more. Simplified structures and saved time: Managers no longer have to manually sift through CVs as the top ten candidates are automatically selected and sent to hiring managers for review. Applicants can also organise their own interviews with e-book system integrations, meaning managers are spending less time on admin and can focus on value-adding tasks. Increased manager autonomy: The benefits of TalentLink were seen first-hand by managers before even starting to use the system. Not only was there keen buy-in but managers have easily got to grips with the simple-to use system and they now have more autonomy as they are less reliant on support from the recruitment team. Driven diversity: Through automating the recruitment process there is less room for subjectivity and unconscious bias. Candidates are shortlisted by their fit with the company’s values and often CVs are not required for roles, granting a level playing field for every candidate regardless of past experience. Consequently, Atlas Hotels is now hiring a higher percentage of people from outside the industry, enabling Atlas Hotels to benefit from a more diverse workforce.

Admiral: E-learning easy and accessible to build future-ready workforce
Case Study

Admiral: E-learning easy and accessible to build future-ready workforce

Admiral Group’s story is one of rapid growth and innovation. In 1993, the then start-up had only 57 employees and no customers but has since grown to become a leading car insurance provider in the U.K. with operations in eight other countries. The company largely credits this success to its commitment to engaging and developing its people since day one. Now, with 9,500 employees across Europe, India, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, it was clear that the company’s previous learning management system (LMS) could no longer support the scale of the company as it grew both geographically and in size. Admiral needed a cloud-based system that not only provided deeper insight and visibility into employee training needs and compliance, but also would be intuitive and easy to use. Having gathered employee feedback, Admiral realised it needed a solution that is as easy to use as services like Netflix, Facebook or Amazon. Why Cornerstone? Admiral searched for clear, in-depth reporting tools and a system that would encourage self-directed learning for its employees. Putting numerous vendors through their paces, Admiral chose Cornerstone to meet its learning and collaboration needs. Admiral took a smart approach by gaining employee buy-in throughout the process of implementing the new system. This made sure that there was a true understanding of the purpose of the system throughout the workforce, even before it was rolled out. It was also important to Admiral that its employees’ preferences were taken into consideration. Employees were surveyed and took part in focus groups to identify the features users both liked and disliked. Cornerstone could provide the user experience Admiral needed by ensuring the right content is easily accessible, by tracking progress and by facilitating collaboration. Admiral was set on creating a learning experience that its employees would truly appreciate and be engaged with – making Cornerstone the clear choice. Admiral made Cornerstone ‘theirs’ by renaming it iLearn and shaping the system from its employees’ perspective. The Results Increased appetite for learning. Comparing statistics from the first half of 2016 (when Admiral was using its old LMS) and the same period in 2017, its Cornerstone LMS, the total number of online courses significantly increased from 26,394 to 40,193. The average monthly unique users logging on to the system has grown by 81% from 2,454 to 4,457. Admiral has all this visibility through intuitive dashboards which are updated in realtime with manager and employee activity. Positive response to quality content. The quality is just as high as the quantity – demonstrated in the Reviews & Ratings functionality with the average rating of Admiral’s courses being 4.6 out of 5 stars. Moreover, Admiral can pinpoint areas of a course or assessment where employees are not getting it quite right. This level of detail helps constantly refine and optimise all learning content. Focus on employee experience. Admiral’s employeefirst approach and determination to find a solution that would capture the imagination of its workforce is a true demonstration of what Cornerstone looks to achieve when it talks about embracing the learning experience. Cornerstone and Admiral are aligned when it comes to creating an environment which promotes self-learning and discovery of content that drive development. Employee collaboration and knowledge sharing. In 2017, users have made a total of 975 posts in the iLearn Connect communities – a very positive start to achieving their goal of employees engaging in collaborative learning and knowledge sharing. Building a workforce that is future-ready. With the company growing at a high rate, Admiral’s strategic approach to learning and development of the workforce means it is better placed in the face of its competition. A more engaged workforce leads to better productivity, better retention rates as well as leading to a more attractive place to work.

4finance: lending a hand in talent management and learning
Case Study

4finance: lending a hand in talent management and learning

4finance is one of Europe’s largest digital consumer lending groups. Leveraging data-driven insights and automation, 4finance offers instalment loans, lines of credit and single payment loans, designed to meet customer needs. Headquartered in Latvia, with additional offices in London, Luxembourg and Miami, 4finance has grown rapidly, boasting operations in 15 countries and issuing loans worth over €7 billion in total. The company aims to continue its growth, offering simple, useful and transparent products to millions of its customers. As with much of the financial industry, 4finance’s HR processes and systems were basic. Learning was only taking place via external training with minimal content available, and administration tasks became a burden for the HR team. Each office used different methods of processing information, making global reporting challenging. Why Cornerstone? 4finance emphasizes it’s use of cutting-edge technology within its services, priding itself on offering the very best expertise to its customers. It was important that this messaging was echoed internally, treating employees as if they are customers. With this in mind, a one-stop-shop system was required to unify processes, making them more efficient and employee-focused. As a company who strives on growth, career progression was an important factor for 4finance. Cornerstone’s solution not only offered the necessary content to help employees improve their skills, it also offered the tools to help recognise skills gaps within the organisation’s and individual’s portfolio. The clear vision presented to the HR team with the employee and business front of mind made Cornerstone the number one choice for 4finance. The Results Award-winning internal training. Continued development has always been a key pillar at 4finance. LevelUp is a peer-to-peer learning programme implemented in Cornerstone, that allows employees to grow by teaching others the first-hand knowledge of the business. It empowers and connects employees, allowing discussions that spark new ideas. The LevelUp programme has earned 4finance several awards including HR Project of the Year and Best Productive Learning & Development Project. Better data management. Before Cornerstone, employee data was disordered, making it challenging to prove HR’s impact on the wider business. Now, 4finance has all its employee and HR data in one place, with the highest quality of data achieved. The centralised reporting system also allows for better cost-planning and budgeting as well as more accurate global reporting, giving HR an important seat at the table when it comes to wider business decisions. Improved efficiency. Cornerstone has given the HR team an opportunity to focus more on leadership development by launching a 360 Leadership Review for Group Managers. The whole assessment process is done via Cornerstone. As all the data was stored in the system, it alleviated much of the admin burden from the HR department. As a result, it was possible to identify the leadership gaps and improvement areas. Dedicated to learning. During the coronavirus crisis, where feelings of uncertainty thrived externally, 4finance used learning and upskilling to create stability and show their investment in people’s futures. Having access to learning during remote working also meant that employees at 4finance didn’t have to halt their learning and could continue to enhance their skills without physically being in a training room. Putting people first. “We put people first” is one of 4finance’s most treasured values as an employer and thanks to Cornerstone, the messaging has gained even more momentum across all offices. Employees can now take charge of their own career development, choosing their own training plans to follow, leading to more growth opportunities in the business.

UK 2019 Cornerstone Compliance Management Survey
Research

UK 2019 Cornerstone Compliance Management Survey

In the summer of 2019, we surveyed HR professionals working in SMBs in the UK with the goal of discovering what compliance means to them. The findings are now available as a white paper for you to download! Authored by Susan Jeffery, Content Strategist and Dominic Rooke-Allden, Marketing Manager, Cornerstone SMB, this white paper provides unique insights into the challenges faced by HR professionals in this complex and challenging domain. Download your complimentary copy of the report today!

Workplace Diversity: ’The Era of Colorblindness is Over’
Blog Post

Workplace Diversity: ’The Era of Colorblindness is Over’

Workplace diversity is a pressing topic among HR pros. It's heavily scrutinized in blogs, at conferences and during training sessions. That attention often focuses on how diversity affects the company — but what about how minorities' experiences affect people personally and professionally? Google employee Erica Baker addressed that question recently on Medium with a first-person account of her experiences as a minority in the tech industry. Here, Dr. Kecia Thomas, a professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Georgia, explains how individual workers' experiences can reverberate throughout an organization: How do the experiences of minority workers affect the entire company? The concerns of under-represented workers often represent the concerns of other workers, as well. The issues that minority workers might experience are not all that different from the experiences of people who were the first generation to go to college in their families, or people who might come from a lower economic class. Attending to diversity actually helps to improve the workforce overall. Some of the challenges for ethnic minority workers, for example, are that they often find themselves as one-of-a-kind in their workplace. I’m talking about high-level professionals, people with graduate degrees and above. There are implicit biases that might hinder their access to informal networks, to mentoring or to professional development opportunities that could subsequently impair their performance and career development. I think there are also experiences that newcomers face in regard to feeling invisible and voiceless. How do these biases affect people in the majority? It’s not a stretch to say that the lack of exposure for many white colleagues can also be a source of anxiety that can inhibit their opportunity for authentic interactions with a new colleague who is different, ethnically or culturally. Any time we have those barriers to communication or to establishing authentic relationships, it’s a potential barrier to our performance and our ability to work together productively. Whose role is it to consider these issues within a company — and to take steps to address them? When it comes to any type of organizational change, it always begins at the top. Leaders have to understand demographic shifts in their labor force, how those shifts might be reflected — and the needs and priorities of their workers. When leaders are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace, HR is empowered to put in place the strategies that are equally effective across a diversity of workers. There’s also a culture of the organization that has to be addressed to make sure that people are held accountable if they violate non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Too often, companies don’t have clear policies, or they're not communicated effectively. And even if they’re communicated effectively, they’re not always followed. We are at a critical point as a nation in regard to how we address diversity. We are seeing a lot of blatant forms of discrimination and violence occur, but we’re also seeing a younger generation that is so multicultural and inclusive. We’re seeing an increasing number of states embrace same-sex marriage. So there’s kind of a tidal wave of issues going on that reflect our differences. We have an opportunity to do this well and see this as a way to promote innovation, creativity and greater collaboration. A lot of the research I’ve done with Vicky Plaut [professor of law and social science at the University of California, Berkeley] suggests that we need to embrace multiculturalism and that the era of colorblindness is over. In fact, colorblindness is a signal to members of ethnic and racial minority groups that they are now vulnerable to discrimination. Photo: Can Stock

Cartoon Coffee Break: WFH Woes
Blog Post

Cartoon Coffee Break: WFH Woes

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. +++++ As the late winter months approach, and weather conditions worsen, employees may be working from home more often. That’s especially true for those who drive to the office and want to avoid unsafe road conditions. But working from home can be distracting for employees who have children or even roommates who don’t work a 9-5. Encourage managers to communicate with employees to create an effective WFH plan so that they can continue to be productive—regardless of their whereabouts. Â

Cartoon Coffee Break: What About the Old Office Buildings?
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Cartoon Coffee Break: What About the Old Office Buildings?

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered offices around the United States in March, most people thought it would only be a short hiatus. And then weeks turned into months. Today, the virus is still surging in some parts of the country and now, a growing number of employers, including tech companies like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb and Slack, are delaying return-to-office dates—once again—to mid-2021. Many company leaders have started asking other questions like: Do my employees actually need an office building? Should we keep the lease on our office building? While some companies are planning to do away with offices altogether, others still anticipate returning in some form. But with 43% of employees interested in working from home more often, these companies will likely have to rethink the purpose of their office space. As a result, organizations are turning to additional options. Some are investigating new operating models once employees do eventually return to the office—others are exploring the discounted prices that many major cities, like New York City, are currently offering. Many have no option but to continue with their current office space, since office leases in most major cities are very difficult to end early and tend to last for years.  In the meantime, only a small percentage of employees are back in the office. Most buildings still stand unused, empty—and a little eerie. To start planning for the post-pandemic workplace, check out this ReWork piece from Cornerstone’s CTO Mark Goldin for some related tips and insights.Â

A Day in the Life of a Workplace Wellness Expert
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A Day in the Life of a Workplace Wellness Expert

Between afternoon yoga classes, discounted gym memberships and healthier food options, workplace wellness initiatives are on the rise — nearly 80 percent of people who work for organizations with 50 or more employees have access to a wellness program. While the ROI of wellness programs is still difficult to measure, the predicted benefits are enticing: Successful programs aim not only to increase employee satisfaction and engagement, but also curb healthcare costs. “A company not focused on the total well-being of their team members is a company who may not have high productivity. Retention may suffer and recruiting the best talent may be compromised in this marketplace," explains Heather Provino, Chief Executive Officer of Provant, a workplace health and wellness solutions provider. To learn more about the rise of workplace wellness and the people pushing the programs forward, we spoke with four corporate wellness experts about the challenges they encounter, their current initiatives and their best advice for companies looking to create healthier work environments. Kerry Cragin Title: HR and Wellness Manager at Catharsis Productions How did you get involved in workplace wellness? I have a deep interest in taking care of employees holistically. My current employer, Catharsis Productions, was very invested in developing a wellness program and loved the experience I could bring with corporate wellness, counseling and being a yoga teacher. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? I just returned from the Mindful Leadership Summit in D.C., where business professionals from around the world met about how to bring mindfulness practices into the workplace. I am currently working on a step-by-step process to integrate this practice into our workplace culture. What qualities make for a successful wellness initiative in the workplace? First, a company needs to assess how its employees define wellness. Then, build a wellness committee with employees who represent all sectors of your business and use their voices to build programs. Mary Beth Helgens Title: Corporate Health and Wellness Coach at Benchmark, Inc. What's the most challenging part about your job? Keeping programs fresh and appealing to a wide audience. Another important, very delicate component of any program is for employees to understand that their results and any coaching that takes place is totally confidential — that can be a big hurdle. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? Group coaching for employees. Having employees meet together around a common interest and goal will hopefully provide more accountability and motivation. What qualities make for a successful wellness initiative in the workplace? Executive involvement, an incentive that is realistic, desired, and empowering, and a wide variety of options for participation. Fiona Gathright Title: President and CEO, Wellness Corporate Solutions How did you get involved in workplace wellness? I started my own company in 2004 in pursuit of my passion for health, nutrition and wellness. As the industry has matured, we've branched out to do a host of things including biometric screenings to assess employee health risk, health coaching and implementing wellness and stress-reduction programs. What's the most challenging part about your job? Building a culture of health and wellness takes time. The most challenging part can be getting employers to understand the long-term benefits in addition to short-term cost reduction. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? For one of our larger clients, we built a network of 900 wellness champions to bring programs to each location in the U.S. We are also helping this company expand wellness initiatives to global employees. Katie Bressack Title: Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Teacher, Balanced Beings How did you get involved in workplace wellness? Living in New York City and working a corporate job, I was chronically sick for a year. I finally found a doctor who was able to help me focus on why I kept getting sick, rather than just giving me medication. My health and job performance improved as I began to do small things throughout the day — yoga during lunch and going on afternoon walks. I decided to go back to school in order to help other people in similar corporate positions. What's the most challenging part about your job? Often, as an employee, you feel like you don't have the time to spend on yourself at your job. You feel guilty for going for a walk, or taking a lunch break. The biggest challenge is empowering managers about the benefits of letting employees feel more at ease. What qualities make for a successful wellness initiative in the workplace? Get management involved, and have incentives in place for employees. Header photo: Creative Commons

Dear ReWorker: My Employee Is Tattling on Her Coworkers
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Dear ReWorker: My Employee Is Tattling on Her Coworkers

Dear ReWorker, I have an employee that monitors everyone else's schedule. We are a retail organization, so schedules change from week to week. If someone is late, or two people swap shifts, I'll hear about it from her. Other than this annoying habit, she's good at her job. She just likes to hover and tattle. Of course, this drives her coworkers crazy. Can I keep the schedule away from her, citing privacy concerns? Sincerely, Tired of the Tattling ___________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Tired, Of course you can keep the schedule away from her, but that would require you to keep it away from everyone, and just let people know their own schedules. When people want to trade a shift, it will all have to come through you, which will increase your workload. Plus, even if the schedule is kept private, your employee is smart enough to know that no one is scheduled to come in at 2:05, so when someone clocks in at that time, you'll hear about how so-and-so was late. What you're trying to do is what many managers look to do—solve the problem without having to talk to the problem maker. This approach rarely works and often makes things worse. So, let's solve the problem instead of trying to find work-arounds. First, let's examine her complaints. People must be coming in late for her to tattle, which is problematic. As for the shift swapping, it generally isn't a problem, but it could indicate that whoever does the scheduling isn't taking all employees' needs into consideration. In other words, your tattle-tale could be warning you of big problems. Assess Underlying Problems You need to address lateness with the latecomers, and rethink your scheduling if there is a lot of swapping going on. If either of these things are affecting the tattle-tale's life, that may be why she's whining; if she can't go home because Jane hasn't come in on time, that's an actual problem; if she's stuck working with people who need training all the time because of schedule swaps, that's a problem, too. If these things are real problems, you can solve your tattle-tale problem by fixing the underlying issue. In a retail environment, people need to come in on time. Full stop. However, if neither the lateness nor the swapping are real issues, and she's just being nit-picky and annoying, you can address the tattler directly. You don't have to have a big sit down discussion with her—just wait until the next time she comes up to tell you that Jane clocked in late or that Steve and Sarah swapped shifts. Say to her: "This is not something you need to keep track of or tell me. I'm on top of it. Thanks!" Now, she'll be back again with another report of her coworkers' failings, at which point you say, "I told you this is not your concern. Please don't mention it again." When she comes back a third time, then you have the sit down. "Helen, I've asked you twice not to talk to me about this. Do not monitor your co-workers. Do not worry about schedules. This is my job. If it happens again, I'll have to put a formal warning in your file. Is that clear?" After that, you'll have to follow your company's disciplinary procedures. She may be a good employee otherwise, but if she's alienating her co-workers, that's bad for the team. Fix your tardiness problem, consider changing how you schedule and tell the tattle-tale to zip it. That way you can still post schedules publicly. Sincerely, Your ReWorker Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady

Focus on Employee Experience—Not Employee Engagement—In 2021
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Focus on Employee Experience—Not Employee Engagement—In 2021

Modern employee-employer relationships are inherently complicated. Add a distributed workplace and a pandemic to the mix, and managing the modern workforce became exponentially more complex almost overnight. Today, leaders have to think about everything from culture to well-being to purpose and meaning—the entirety of the employee journey, known as the employee experience. Over my four-decade business career, this conversation has evolved from discussing employee satisfaction to employee engagement to employee experience. Some might argue the difference is just semantics, that the terms are interchangeable. The reality is the current movement toward employee experience is much more than just a change in verbiage. By first understanding how it’s different, we can begin to understand some strategies for creating a positive employee experience—with the help of psychologist Jason Cochran. What is Employee Experience—and How is it Different? “Creating a good employee experience doesn’t happen by accident,” Cochran says. Instead, it’s an intentional evolution of thinking about how employees experience work—and a move beyond employee “satisfaction” and “engagement.” Employee satisfaction infers contentment. And while 50 years ago it might have been adequate to measure how happy an employee was at their job, the days of the 40-year career path with a single company are over. As organizational lifespans of companies have decreased from 60 years to a mere 17 years today, competition forced companies to consider more than contentment—and employee engagement dethroned satisfaction as a result. Engagement was about treating employees as stakeholders in the company’s performance, and increasing an emphasis on things like development conversations and coworker relationships as a result. While the global pandemic has certainly helped spur this shift toward employee experience, it’s also an opportunity. As Sir Winston Churchill once stated, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Companies that lean in and focus on the full employee experience will keep employees happy, engaged—and more. Understanding Employee Experience through Connection In the spirit of Churchill’s infamous words, the challenges of the pandemic absolutely demand new, amplified efforts to maintain success through increased employee productivity and participation. Employers must pivot from the static objectives of employee satisfaction and engagement to a broader model of employee experience. Cochran, my guest on a recent podcast, is a psychologist and employee experience researcher. Cochran has distilled over 20 years of research down to four core principles that inform human motivation and purpose from on-boarding to off-boarding—he calls it the 4 Principles of Connection™️. Connecting to Self: People want to work for organizations that help them develop as a whole person, not just in the rote skills of their job. Connecting to Others: People want to work where they're accepted for their authentic selves and where they experience a level of connection with the leadership and their team that creates strong bonds. Connecting to Role: People want to work where they have clarity about their responsibilities, know their importance in the company ecosystem and understand how their contributions matter. Connecting to the Organization: People want to work where they know the greater whole, of which they're a part, is doing important work in the world. Employee Experience Drives Employee Performance According to one study, employees with more positive experiences at work reported significantly higher levels of discretionary effort—i.e. labor accomplished voluntarily by individuals passionate about their work. “In other words,” Cochran says, “People will go above and beyond typical job responsibilities, they will go the extra mile, and you can see discretionary effort in any organization, at any level.” This keen willingness to perform is essential to productivity, team cohesion and a company’s overall success. In fact, the same study referenced above indicates that employees are two times as likely to use discretionary effort when their experience is positive. Understand Employee Experience in Real Time According to Cochran, a lot of valuable data can be gained from engagement surveys. But like an annual performance review, by the time the data is received and ready to use, it’s often too late. “The best companies invest time and money to make sure their employees are cared for throughout their tenure at the company in real-time,” he explains. Cochran’s advice is to create real-time feedback loops to track things like whether employees are receiving appropriate evaluation, how well employees are tracking goals and following growth plans, and their level of participation in learning and development programs. These create signals to be sent to leadership on an ongoing basis. Management needs to know more than once or twice per year what is going well and what needs improvement. It’s Time To Lean Into Employee Experience Mere emphasis on employee engagement isn’t enough. Instead, companies must implement changes focused on increasing positive perceptions of workplace experiences, scrapping ineffective measures of engagement, and escalating data-driven and real-time insights to drive change. Employee experience is the competitive edge necessary in today’s rapidly evolving, uncertain world.

Honor Black History Month in a Meaningful Way—Through Action
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Honor Black History Month in a Meaningful Way—Through Action

February is Black History Month, a time to educate ourselves and others about Black history, raise awareness about ongoing issues that the Black community faces, and encourage change. When it comes to honoring Black History Month in the workplace, organizations often want to “do something,” but aren’t sure of the best way to actually facilitate learning, participation, and action. To that end, Fishbowl, an app to facilitate social conversation in the workplace, partnered with Living Corporate to ask Black professionals about their experiences at work across industries in an effort to illuminate existing challenges. Below are three of the statements Fishbowl posed to professionals to assess the extent to which they agree with them. Not only should you consider having your employees weigh in on these, but you should also take this insight and start making changes. Chances are, Fishbowl’s findings reflect your employees’ experiences more than you’d like to admit. Racial Bias Can Be Anywhere “I feel pressure to change aspects of my behavior or appearance to fit in with my work place.” The majority of respondents said they did feel pressure to change their appearance. In the finance sector, 84% felt pressured while 81% of Black employees practicing law felt the same. Even in the notoriously-casual tech industry, 57% felt they needed to alter how they look and act. Bias is easy to miss, but it’s critical to identify it in job descriptions, employee handbooks and other resources to ensure language is inclusive. For example, when was the last time you took a look at your dress code? Does it call for “professional attire and hairstyles?” Do you consider traditional African American hairstyles or natural hair unprofessional? If your organization is still discriminating against certain types of styles or attire, it’s time for immediate change. Existing DEI Initiatives Are Ineffective “My company’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are effective at addressing my needs.” Despite the tech industry’s reputation for lacking diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it was the highest performing industry—33% of Black professionals agree with the statement above. But 33% is nothing to be proud of:despite doubling down on DEI, this sector is still missing the mark. And other industries are even bigger offenders. Just 14% of Black legal professionals believed in the efficacy of their organization's DEI efforts. If your diversity and inclusion efforts are designed to look good on Twitter and not to actually create a diverse environment for all employees, it’s time for a change. Start asking questions. Use employee surveys, start discussion-driven focus groups and conduct external research. There’s no secret recipe for DEI, and the right approach will look different at every organization. Beginning this February, investigate or research tactics that will make your organization truly diverse, and how you can help all of your people feel included. Racism Can Go Unchecked “I trust my company to do the right thing if I report that I have experienced racism at work.” Be honest—how often have you heard accounts of companies ignoring racism until it becomes public? Here’s an even tougher question: how often has it been ignored at your company? Black professionals in technology and accounting agreed with this statement at 47% and 41%, respectively. But, law and finance? 20% and 7% percent, respectively. Seven percent. Seven percent of Black professionals in finance trust that their company will do the right thing if they report racism. That number is abysmal. Every report of racism must be investigated and offenders, in turn, must be punished. Time For Action As Black History Month comes to a close, are you going to make a real effort to learn, educate others, and make real change? Commit to continuing your work long after February ends. To overcome all of the challenges that Black professionals face, we need to start by understanding the history, as well as the present. Start by asking the tough questions, absorbing the answers, and doing something about it. Want to learn more about improving DEI efforts at your organization? Tune into our podcast, HR Labs. This season, we’re exploring strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action.

How to Do Diversity and Inclusion Training Right
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How to Do Diversity and Inclusion Training Right

In April, at a Sephora store in Calabasas, California, a store associate allegedly called security to make sure a customer wasn't stealing. That customer was African American singer-songwriter Sza, who tweeted about the incident and accused Sephora of racial profiling. Sephora representatives responded saying that they were looking into it. And then they shut down stores for bias and diversity training—although the company says the training had been planned in advance and was not related to the viral tweet. If this series of events sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because something similar happened at Starbucks last year when a manager called the police on two black men who were waiting without ordering. In response, Starbucks shut down for a company-wide bias training. These responses to bias incidents may get a lot of press coverage, but there are more effective ways to go about diversity and inclusion training. These trainings should not just happen once, nor should they happen only once something goes wrong. Instead of reacting to an incident of bias or discrimination, companies should take a more preventative approach. 1) Include D&I Training in New Hire Orientation If you're a stable law firm, for example, you can probably get away with doing one diversity training per year. But for an industry with high turnover like retail or media, where employees come and go more frequently, you will need to train workers early and often so that every employee has the bias training they need to do their job effectively—whether they stay at your organization for five months or five years. Introducing diversity and inclusion training as part of the onboarding process will decrease the likelihood of bias incidents at your company and show new hires that you are serious about diversity and inclusion from the start. Consider adding a diversity and inclusion component to your onboarding materials and make D&I trainings accessible to employees through a learning portal. 2) Focus on How Employees Should Act (Not What They Should Think) While unconscious bias training like Starbucks' or Sephora's have gained traction as common responses in crisis management, these trainings can actually backfire. In a 2017 Medium post, founder and CEO of Amaechi Performance Systems, John Amaechi calls unconscious bias training a "get out of jail free card." Management can pat themselves on the back and say, "Look, we did a thing!" But to truly change the status quo, it will take more than checking boxes. When it comes to bias, stop trying to change the way employees think and instead focus on how they should act toward clients, customers and one another. For example, encourage employees to think before they call security on a customer. Has the customer actually committed a crime or does your employee just suspect that they could commit a crime? Once employees understand the expectations you have around how they should behave, they are more likely to think twice before inserting their own bias into a situation. 3) Don't Underestimate the Power of a Good Manager Good bosses set the tone for their employees, so if they are committed to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, it will likely trickle down to the people who work under them. Hiring good managers can help you keep good employees who care about their work and their colleagues. Ensure you are consistently hiring good managers by asking questions about diversity in the interview process and considering any past experience they have creating inclusive corporate cultures. A one-time training won't have a long term impact unless you follow up with a diversity training strategy that defines diversity in broad terms and lays out a comprehensive, structured and continuous curriculum. If you prioritize diversity and inclusion from the top down, employees will follow your lead. Photo: Creative Commons  Â

How Four Companies Show Appreciation for Their Employees
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How Four Companies Show Appreciation for Their Employees

Employees are the backbone of your company, and a little recognition goes a long way. According to a SHRM/Globoforce report, companies that utilize strategic recognition are 48 percent more likely to see high employee engagement. Even companies that spend as little as 1 percent of payroll on recognition are 79 percent more likely to experience better financial results. Not making the investment in employee appreciation, however, can be costly—employees that don't feel valued are more likely to quit. But, according to a survey by Glassdoor, 53 percent of employees said they would stay at their jobs longer if their employers showed them more appreciation. Four out of five employees also said they work harder when their boss demonstrations appreciation for their work. This year, Employee Appreciation Day is on Friday, March 2 in the United States. It's the perfect time to show your employees that you respect them, and care about their professional and personal success. Need some inspiration? Here are four companies who go above and beyond to make sure their employees know they are appreciated. Black n Bianco Has a Beach Day For Lisa Chu, owner of the California-based children's clothing store Black n Bianco, Employee Appreciation Day is her favorite day of the year. “It gives me an opportunity to show my employees that I am grateful for their contribution and dedication to my company. It's also an effective way to show my managers and supervisors the importance of appreciating our employees." Last year, she took all of her employees on a trip to the beach in Santa Monica, where they relaxed in the sun and had lunch together. Her goal was to acknowledge how hard her team works and reward them with some much needed downtime. The effort, she says, paid off. “When my employees feel recognized for their contribution, they are more likely to be emotionally invested in their job," she says. “Performance increased and the energy in the office improved." Social Sync Shows Appreciation Every Day Over at internet marketing company Social Sync, they do more than just celebrate their employees on March 2. CEO and Founder Nick Morgan says they are constantly showering their staff with awards, certificates and department prizes like extra holiday hours, paid vacation, free wine, Amazon vouchers and team bonuses. “I firmly believe that rewarding hard work is of greater importance in a work environment than punishing poor performance," he says. “It is easier to motivate people with rewards than bully them with consequences." At iHeartRaves and INTO THE AM, Appreciation is Someone's Full-Time Job Brian Lim, CEO of clothing companies iHeartRaves and INTO THE AM, has a full-time Director of Happiness on staff to make sure employees feel appreciated year-round. The companies throw personalized birthday celebrations, give out free music festival tickets as rewards and provide the top-performing team member with a $500 award each month. The entire staff also gathers for a town hall meeting on a monthly basis to recognize major department wins, eat company-funded lunch and play games. “We are certain that these kinds of initiatives lead to decreased turnover and happier employees," Lim says. Cornerstone OnDemand Adds a Personal Touch to Appreciation Cornerstone, which calls its employees “Cornerstars," gave out appreciation cards to employees last year, and encouraged them to write notes to each other to express their gratitude. If a remote Cornerstar wanted to send a card, the company would assign someone to hand write it and deliver it to the recipient. This program was so well received that it went on for two months. This year, the company is introducing an Employee Appreciation Badge, so that Cornerstars can use their employee management platform to let colleagues know they're appreciated. So, how will you celebrate your employees this year? Make them feel valued on Employee Appreciation Day and every day, and they will return the favor in spades by working hard and staying loyal to your company. Photo: Creative Commons

How To Unlearn Racial Biases In Today’s Workplace
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How To Unlearn Racial Biases In Today’s Workplace

This article originally appeared on Forbes HR Council. I’ve dedicated most of my career to helping people learn. I’ve taught as a middle and high school teacher and a university professor, and, today, I promote learning and development in the corporate world. In fact, even the company I work for is built on the foundation of learning. This mission has always felt important and noble — and in many ways, it still is. But the global reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has been an important reminder of what’s equally important when it comes to personal development: unlearning. As a society, we have to reject and replace the biases that we’ve had, unconsciously or not, since childhood. For too long, individuals have failed to recognize these prejudices. This apathy has resulted in systemic racism and a lack of inclusivity in our governments, communities and workplaces. Even at my company, a leader in learning and people development, we haven’t done enough to unlearn the biases we didn’t even realize we were learning over the years. And that could be because, simply put, it’s hard to do. It requires more than unconscious bias training or diversity and inclusion initiatives. Unlearning demands self-reflection and humility. We have to pull apart personal implicit biases, educate ourselves on why they are discriminatory and then dismantle them. Here’s a closer look at what this process of unlearning looks like. Step One: Acknowledge Inherent Biases Though research shows that diverse workforces are more innovative and successful than those with homogenous talent pools, only about 8% of people employed in white-collar professions are Black — a proportion that gets even smaller further up the corporate ladder. While many companies acknowledge the need for diversity, they haven’t done much to create it. But that’s because most are starting in the wrong place. One of the reasons that majority-white companies often fail to hire Black people or people of color comes down to our inherent ingroup and outgroup biases. Though hard to admit, these biases do affect our worldview: As humans, we tend to favor individuals who look and act like us and associate with similar social groups. People and their decisions are constantly and unconsciously influenced by these perceptions. But self-reflection can help employees unlearn these mental schemas. Research suggests that by becoming self-critical of potential biases, individuals can activate control mechanisms that help them inhibit those biases. One study found that forcing fellow ingroup members to rationalize and explain their personal biases helped them to recognize the inherent injustice of these thoughts. Of course, this won’t be easy. Many employees will struggle to accept that they even contain these tendencies. For instance, a manager might realize that when they ask a Black female employee a question, they allot less time to answer it than they would her white male co-worker. Others may realize that they tend to prefer working with people who look and sound like them. In these moments, I urge others to analyze and deconstruct these findings. Ask yourself if this preference is due to merit or in-group biases. It’s likely the latter. This is an uncomfortable realization, but one that individuals need to get better at having. Step Two: Start Listening And Learning While building self-awareness is a noble first step, that alone is not enough. In order to unlearn racial biases and apathetic tendencies, people have to develop new ways of thinking about these issues. They have to learn about and listen to the perspectives of outgroup members, which, in this case, are Black people and people of color. Employees can begin by self-educating. Read papers and books by Black social justice leaders. Follow BLM activists, or listen to podcasts that shed light on the Black experience in America. In order to reach a broader section of a company, change has to happen from the top down; leaders must set an example. They should talk to diversity and inclusion experts and speak with Black people and people of color within their companies to learn more about what they can be doing to promote anti-racism. Leaders also must be willing to admit their mistakes: For instance, if your company has not diversified its talent pipeline as much as it could, own up to this. Unlearning happens when we recognize a deficit and look for ways to rectify it. Step Three: Take Action By developing an awareness of personal biases and being exposed to new perspectives and ways of thinking, individuals set themselves up to start taking meaningful action. By listening and learning about biased behavior, employees become more aware of it and can call it out when it occurs. But making these kinds of meaningful changes won’t be effective if they come before the unlearning process, and I think this is where many companies fall short. Spurred by urgency from their employees and customers, companies quickly put policies in place without doing the hard work of unlearning first. For example, if an organization designs a new D&I initiative without first examining past mistakes or getting input from Black people and people of color within the company, the organization could get it wrong again. It could end up facilitating tokenism, or having one or two Black people or people of color amid a mostly white workforce. Tokenism implies a lack of inclusivity and can even be harmful to these employees, who are more likely to (paywall) experience depression and stress and tend to be less satisfied and committed to their jobs. Unlearning is an ongoing process, not a short-term goal. Undoing centuries of systemic racism and inherent biases is going to take work, time and a growth mindset. We’ll need to continue unlearning biases and working to become more anti-racist, even when BLM isn’t making headlines or filling our Instagram feeds. We can’t settle, either: The only way to make the effects of this movement last and effect lasting change is through consistency and long-term commitment. And hopefully, if we start making a strong, concerted effort to unlearn our biases, we will see more equality and less systemic racism in our organizations.

HR Has the Power to Change Its Bad Reputation
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HR Has the Power to Change Its Bad Reputation

For years, human resources has been the department that everyone loves to criticize. More than 20 years ago, Tom Stewart, a Fortune editor at the time,suggested that instead of improving HR, the department should be abolished, eliminated, nuked. Unfortunately, public opinionhasn’tchanged all that much since. The complaints detailed in these and numerous other articles often focus on bureaucracy and inefficiency; on processes that do not add real value, such as those dreaded performance appraisals; and HR’s burdening of line managers with rules and paperwork that hinder leaders’ ability to do their jobs effectively. But in the summer of 2019, a more fundamentally serious—but solvable—complaint surfaced in The Atlantic. The charge: that HR was failing at one of its core missions—to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment in the workplace. HR, the critique went, saw its role as “protecting the company” and was doing so by limiting legal liability and making complaints—and complainants—disappear. What should HR do in the face of such valid criticism? Rethinking HR’s Primary Function HR needs a broader and more assertive perspective on its fundamental role—to ensure the development and maintenance of workplaces that serve to effectively attract, retain and motivate employees. Such workplaces would obviously need to be free of bullying and abuse of any kind, including harassment based on sex, race or anything else They would also need to be, to the extent possible, free from stress and conducive to increasing employee well-being. To accomplish this, HR needs to be willing, regardless of the political climate inside the organization, to attack the fundamental causes of corporate misbehavior and punish the wrong-doers. By doing so, HR will reduce the toll—financial, legal, emotional, moral—exacted by these actions. More importantly, by taking the lead in creating a healthy culture, HR will have fixed the root causes of bullying and harassment that have persisted for far too long. The Problem: Nothing’s Changed In 2007, my colleague and occasional coauthor Bob Sutton publishedThe No Asshole Rule. That book, and research by Georgetown professorChristine Porath, detailed the enormous cost—to people, from stress and ill health, and to companies, from turnover and reduced productivity—that occurred in abusive workplaces where bosses belittled, harassed and screamed at subordinates. In 2017, Sutton published a follow-up,The Asshole Survival Guide, because, sadly, very little had changed in 10 years, despite all of the literature detailing the negative outcomes. Meanwhile, in spite of decades of training, sexual harassment remains a pervasive workplace issue. A2016 EEOC report found that some 60% of women reported having experienced one or more specific sexually based behaviors. Other important findings: Seventy percent of individuals experiencing harassment never talk to a supervisor, manager or other representative about it, and about 90% never file a formal complaint. And for good reason: Sexual harassment reporting is often followed by organizational indifference, as well as hostility and reprisals against the victim, according to the report. HR Is Often Complicit Where is HR in all of this? In her article for The Atlantic, Caitlin Flanaganargued that HR is actually quite successful at dealing with sexual harassment—by creating templates of compliance designed to defend companies against lawsuits. Because HR is often (correctly) seen as taking the company’s side, few people trust it to represent their interests, be that the issue sexual harassment or a toxic workplace environment. Taking the company’s side may preserve an HR manager’s job for the time being, but it will not contribute to creating workplaces that ultimately breed success. As one reader commented: By covering up serious issues, punishing the people who complained and supporting senior management and senior managers, regardless of their behavior, HR isn’t actually serving the companies’ interests at all. By not addressing the root cause of problems, the problems will just recur, and eventually the consequences will become even more serious. Can HR Be Different? The answer to that question is: It has to be. The MeToo movement is not going to disappear. And many younger workers are less tolerant of bad bosses and workplace stress than their seniors. Bad behavior tolerated in a workplace is likely to lead to more, or even worse, bad behavior. People learn by observing what others do and the consequences, or lack thereof, of that behavior. Simply put, workplaces are not going to get better on their own. Second, we know the toll—in physical and mental health, in turnover, and in productivity—that toxic workplaces exact. Gender and race discrimination, through their creation of stress,affect the health of people exposed to it. Third, we know that at the state, and eventually, at the federal level, laws against harassment and bullying will only be strengthened to enforce employees’ rights to a workplace free of intimidation. Therefore, the best thing HR can do to help their employers is not to continue to help those employers dodge liability or responsibility. The most productive, economically beneficial and ultimately value-creating thing that HR can do is to push for the (appropriate) sanctioning of people who harass others. Set hiring and promotion standards that do not excuse bad behavior by pointing to other contributions. Measure the extent of bullying and other forms of abuse through anonymous surveys, such as those detailed in the EEOC report, and bring those measures to the attention of senior management and the board of directors. And yes, in the end, be willing to leave organizations that are unwilling to take the steps required to create workplaces free of abuse. When HR begins to more forcefully and consistently advocate for healthier, less toxic workplaces, companies will experience increased levels of engagement and greater retention of talent. It will also be good for HR—to no longer be seen as an enabler of work environments that are an anachronism in today’s world.  Header image: Creative Commons

HR Labs Bonus Episode: Defining DEI’s Meaning
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HR Labs Bonus Episode: Defining DEI’s Meaning

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. You’re probably familiar with several different ways that individuals and organizations refer to inclusion initiatives. But what is DEI? Between all the acronyms and internal branding, meaning can get lost. In fact, research suggests overusing acronyms and abbreviations can actually alienate audiences—which, ironically, is the opposite of what DEIB is all about. So before diving into our third season of HR Labs and discussing important topics like unconscious bias and pay equity, hosts Jeff Miller and Duane La Bom knew they needed to take the time to set the stage. What do diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) mean? How are they related and how are they different? And what do they look like at an organization? To answer these questions, they invited Cornerstone’s own Jeremy Spake to join the conversation. Jeremy is a member of Cornerstone’s Thought Leadership and Advisory Services team and, in this role, he’s spent a lot of time working with companies to advance their diversity and inclusion goals. In this episode, he shares his experiences and insight to help Jeff and Duane bring clarity and understanding to these terms. Listen to this bonus episode to hear the full conversation, reflect on the real meaning of DEIB, and prepare for the episodes to come. Episode one, featuring Torin Ellis on beating unconscious bias, launches this Wednesday, February 3. Subscribe to the show wherever you listen to your podcasts to make sure not to miss it! Â

HR Labs, DEIB Edition: pymetrics’ Frida Polli on Technology’s Role in Eliminating Bias
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HR Labs, DEIB Edition: pymetrics’ Frida Polli on Technology’s Role in Eliminating Bias

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. This week on HR Labs, Jeff sat down with Frida Polli, a neuroscientist turned co-founder and CEO of pymetrics to talk about how technology can further DEIB strategies. Pymetrics is a computer software company that uses cognitive data and AI to remove bias from how companies hire employees. If companies want to move the needle around their DEIB initiatives, Frida says, they need to be more creative and innovative, rethinking standard HR processes—and using technology to drive them. How Technology Can Drive DEIB Initiatives From the Ground Up Many recruiting algorithms today are one-size-fits all, but AI can unlock the opportunity to optimize fairness by looking at candidates from a more human, holistic perspective. “We have this mold of what someone is supposed to look like if you're a tech entrepreneur. You're supposed to be Caucasian, young, male, definitely not a single parent,” Frida told Jeff, referencing her own experience with recruiting. “But that's silly. Why are we looking at people that way? Because I'm pretty sure I could be a good entrepreneur and I'm not half of those things.” The recruiting process, Frida says, shouldn’t suppose that one type of employee is always best. Because people are unique, there are many different kinds of fits—and the recruiting process should account for this. But, how? In the case of pymetrics, their software assesses candidates based on their cognitive and emotional make-up (think: soft skills, like altruism and attention). By using algorithms, pymetrics builds a profile of a company’s top performers and bases potential candidates on that, and the algorithms are checked to make sure bias is removed. This approach not only results in a better outcome for the individual, but also for the larger company. How Can HR Support Diversity and Inclusion? Technology is here to stay. As Frida says, “We’re not going to put the genie back in the bottle.” Embracing AI and technology to improve the recruiting process is the first step, but it will also take more than that to create change—it will involve pushing back on traditional processes that have had suboptimal outcomes. “At the end of the day, we want to make this world equitable. And sometimes that means being bold and taking some risks,” she said. Listen to the full conversation below to learn more about how HR teams can think about equity, and using technology to further their DEIB initiatives. Subscribe to HR Labs and never miss a conversation about strategies for seeing real impact from your DEI&B efforts. Check back in on April 7 to hear Duane’s conversation with Lorraine Vargas Townsend. And, if you’re just joining us, check out previous episodes on unconscious bias, microaggressions, pay equity and engaging white men in DEIB strategies. Â

HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Dr. Ella Washington on Microaggressions in the Workplace
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HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Dr. Ella Washington on Microaggressions in the Workplace

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. Motivated by the social justice movements of the past summer, workplaces in the U.S. are reprioritizing and conversations about race, equality, diversity and inclusion. For Dr. Ella Washington, an organizational psychologist, professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and founder of DEI strategy and consulting agency Ellavate Solutions, these conversations are her life’s work. On this week’s episode of HR Labs, Duane sat down with Dr. Washington to discuss strategies for companies to truly drive change around DEIB in the workplace. Dr. Washington said that while she’s encouraged by the number of organizations genuinely leaning into these conversations, there’s still work to be done—and addressing microaggressions is one key area for improvement. Microaggressions in the Workplace Microaggressions are incidents in which someone makes an offensive statement or asks an insensitive question, whether accidentally or on purpose. ‘I don’t see color’ or ‘You’re so articulate’ are a few examples Dr. Washington says are common in the workplace. “Microaggressions are these small things that happen everyday, and people need support in how to deal with them,” she said. In addition to discussing other examples, Duane and Dr. Washington also explored actionable strategies for employees and employers alike to appropriately respond to microaggressions. Dr. Washington said the goal isn’t necessarily to eliminate microaggressions from the workplace—but instead, to build a culture where addressing them is the norm. “Even if you talk about these topics all day every day like I do, you still always have something to learn,” said Dr. Washington. Microaggressions might not be eliminated, but employees, leadership and HR teams all have a role to play in making sure victims of microaggressions feel empowered to respond. Subscribe to HR Labs and never miss a conversation about strategies for seeing real impact from your DEI&B efforts. Check back with us on March 3 to hear Jeff’s conversation with fair pay icon Lilly Ledbetter. Â

HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Don Tomaskovic-Devey on Engaging White Men in Diversity and Inclusion Strategies
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HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Don Tomaskovic-Devey on Engaging White Men in Diversity and Inclusion Strategies

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. As Chief Diversity Officer at Cornerstone, Duane La Bom has a deep expertise and understanding of not only what makes DEIB programs successful—but also some of the reasons they fail to truly drive change. And one of the most common deciding factors between DEIB success and failure, he says, is a company’s ability to engage white men and middle managers in the conversation and in the solution. This week on HR Labs, Duane sat down with sociology professor Don Tomaskovic-Devey whose research focuses on the processes that generate workplace inequality. In this episode, Don shares his advice about engaging white men and middle managers in diversity and inclusion strategies. Middle Managers and DEIB Strategies Today Duane and Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey agree: The approach many companies take to DEIB often alienates managers—many of which are white men. “A lot of firms use diversity training that spends a lot of time targeting managers as biased,” Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey says. “Now, that blame may deserve to be there or it may not, but it will definitely produce a sense of being morally targeted without being given a tool.” Whether or not managers feel defensive, sometimes the way companies approach DEIB leaves managers without a clear understanding of whether, or how, to take part. For example, Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey says some research suggests that when managers hear their company has committed itself to DEIB, they assume it’s happened already, or that the responsibility for driving change lies elsewhere. And some companies also tend to take a legal stance to issues that arise around DEIB—which has the effect of removing the responsibility and accountability from the manager. Middle Managers and White Men as Full Diversity Partners Companies need to better engage managers in their diversity and inclusion strategy by encouraging them to view DEIB as they would any company project or effort. “What you have is a disconnect between the people who you normally expect to drive change or products or innovation and the diversity and inclusion agenda,” says Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey, “I think that it's really important that that becomes part of the normal job at the middle manager level.” Giving them the ability to track data, measure results, and try new approaches is also important, says Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey. “What we do need is to treat it more like we do other business practices. Hold people accountable and get the appropriate metrics.” Empowering Managers with Data to Drive Diversity and Inclusion Strategy Once middle managers and white men are involved in the DEIB process, they can help drive real success, Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey says. One of the most important tools for managers is data and analytics about DEIB efforts—and that’s where companies like Pymetrics come in. Pymetrics uses neuroscience and AI to improve diversity in hiring. “That's a firm I really have a lot of respect for,” Dr. Tomaskovic-Devey says. Not only does the firm offer data tools for companies, but it’s also committed to driving DEI. “The tech industry has been under a lot of pressure for both lack of diversity and inclusiveness in its workplaces but also for producing tools that have internal biases to them. Pymetrics is a firm that's in this space that has explicitly worked to take the bias out of the algorithm.” Next time on HR Labs, Jeff Miller sits down with Pymetrics CEO Frida Polli to talk more about using data to drive impact in DEIB initiatives. Subscribe to HR Labs and never miss a conversation about strategies for seeing real impact from your DEI&B efforts. To hear Jeff’s conversation with Frida Polli, check back in on March 31st. And, if you’re just joining us, check out previous episodes on unconscious bias, microaggressions and pay equity.Â

HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Torin Ellis Talks Beating Unconscious Bias
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HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Torin Ellis Talks Beating Unconscious Bias

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. Unconscious bias in the workplace can be a fraught topic. While there’s research to suggest that some 95% of the population holds unconscious or implicit biases, some experts doubt the validity of this research. And despite more companies adopting unconscious bias training to help boost diversity and inclusion in the workplace, these efforts by themselves often fall short. The way forward, said Torin Ellis on the latest episode of HR Labs, is “to come at this [DEI] conversation differently.” Meet DEI Expert, Torin Ellis Torin is a diversity strategist, author, and co-host of the Crazy and the King podcast. He works with companies to advance their diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives, whether that’s by optimizing the talent acquisition process or engaging leadership teams. Through this work, he’s seen that companies often use unconscious bias training to show their commitment to DEI initiatives—but they don’t do the necessary work that lies beyond that initial training. Training, while important, shouldn’t take the place of real action—like having difficult conversations or actually holding employees and leadership accountable for their contributions to DEIB. Beyond Unconscious Bias Training In this episode, Jeff and Torin discuss what unconscious bias is as well some of the short- and long-term steps leaders can take to identify and mitigate bias in their organization at every value point— from recruiting and other talent strategies to employer brand, supply chain, and more. Check out the latest episode to learn more about what Torin says organizations and people can do to lift the “curtain of complacency and mediocrity” when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and how he sees our greater humanity as the true ROI of DEI. And if you like the conversation, subscribe to HR Labs to never miss a future episode. HR Labs episodes are released biweekly: Check back with us on February 17 to hear Dr. Ella Washington and Duane La Bom discuss microaggressions. At the ~11:53 min mark of the episode, Torin states that the Democratic Party hasn’t had a Black woman lead a committee in 40-something years. After the interview, Torin shared with us that he misquoted from an interview Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence conducted on RolandMartinUnfiltered. In the interview, Congresswoman Lawrence states there hasn’t been a Black female in a Democratic Caucus leadership position in over 40 years. You can view that interview here: https://www.house.gov/leadershipÂ

The HR Labs Podcast Is Back. This Season is All About DEIB.
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The HR Labs Podcast Is Back. This Season is All About DEIB.

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. Following the social justice movements of 2020, many organizations pledged to recommit to their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. But although the business case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever, many organizations are still struggling to create a truly equitable and inclusive environment for employees, clients and partners. And in the wake of COVID-19, research finds that diverse populations are still struggling disproportionately: Only one in six diverse employees feels more supported now than before the pandemic. We know that learning is a critical part of growing and driving change. That’s why we’re sourcing expert voices to share actionable strategies and tactics to help companies make good on their commitments and lay the foundation for years to come. This season, we’ll explore a range of topics—from pay equity to microaggressions to belongingness—and hear from icons like Lilly Ledbetter, specialized experts like Dr. Ella Washington, forward-thinking executives like Lorraine Vargas Townsend and many more. Check out the trailer to hear more about what you can expect this season. And remember to subscribe to the show wherever you listen to your podcasts to join us for episode one, launching February 3. Together, we’ll build an informed understanding of how best to move DEIB strategies forward to create a better employee experience for everyone at work.

Leading During a Crisis: How to Protect Your Employees
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Leading During a Crisis: How to Protect Your Employees

The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces. +++++ With astonishing swiftness, the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down businesses large and small, bringing the U.S. and global economy to a standstill. As of April 9, 2020, nearly 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment. Unfortunately, this number is expected to gradually increase in the coming weeks, and many experts now predict that a recession is imminent. How companies react right now is crucial. Anxiety levels are high, but this is an opportunity for organizations to set themselves apart by putting their most valuable asset—their people—ahead of profits for as long as they can. For example, after sending everyone home to work remotely, Facebook announced that all employees will receive six-month bonuses and an additional $1,000 bonus to help them during the coronavirus outbreak. Amgen, a pharmaceutical company that makes medications for heart disease and migraines, sent some employees home with $250 stipends, a $50-a-month allowance for internet and phone services and a promise to pay them whatever they normally earn each week even if their work demands dwindle. Not all organizations will have the deep pockets to make these kinds of immediate expenditures, but there are other ways companies can take care of their workers—and brace them for the impact of the coming recession. Here are a few way to protect your employees and prepare them for what’s ahead:  Recalibrate Your Incentive Plans If there is an individual performance component to your incentive plan design, consider recalibrating these metrics to reflect the reality of our current crisis. Facebook, for example, has defaulted all their employees to their highest performance rating of “Exceeds Expectations” for its current six-month review cycle and made these payouts immediately. To put money in the hands of people now and reduce the stress of impending performance reviews in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic, adjust the process. Goals set at the beginning of the year will likely not be met. Instead, establish new, more realistic quotas, timelines, project deliverables and milestones. For Vulnerable Workers, Offer Hazard Pay Any organization deemed an essential business during COVID-19 (grocery stores, hardware stores, etc.) is likely worried about the health of its workers. To express and act on this concern, they should consider providing vulnerable or essential workers with hazard pay—temporary lump-sum appreciation bonuses that typically range from two to three times the standard base rate. Kroger, a popular food retailer, has awarded its frontline workforce with lump-sum appreciation bonuses. This will translate to $300 bonus payments made to all full-time hourly employees and $150 payments for all part-time hourly employees. Whole Foods is taking similar actions after the grocery store chain was publicly shamed for failing to provide proper care and protective equipment for its employees. The company has now pledged to raise the pay of its hourly employees by$2 per hour for the next month. Extra compensation for those employees putting in the extra work right now (and putting their health at risk) is the right thing to do. These payments will not only make workers feel appreciated, but it can provide them with the additional resources they might need if they get sick. Begin Budgeting for Crisis Management Make it a priority to create or contribute to a crisis management fund for your business. Set aside money, place it in savings and do not touch it. Many companies do this already and put 1% of payroll into a promotional or ad hoc market adjustment budget to be used throughout the year as needs arise. If possible, businesses should start organizing these relief funds as quickly as possible. During the COVID-19 pandemic and in its imminent aftermath, they will need this money to assist their workforce (and keep the lights on). Embrace Unlimited PTO In general, I think companies today waste too much time on tracking the accrual and use of PTO. The amount of time required to track, monitor, approve, deny and mitigate issues around it is a prime example of process for the sake of a process. Unlimited PTO, on the other hand, is managed between manager and salaried employee as needs arise and allows for flexibility when necessary. During COVID-19, embrace unlimited PTO or establish specific two- to three-week PTO banks for all salaried employees. This way, if employees become sick, they can take care of themselves without becoming stressed about being able to make ends meet. Use This Opportunity to Rethink and Redesign We are experiencing a true cultural fulcrum point. Organizations must act tactically now in many ways—but we also have an opportunity to sit back and rethink many of our policies and practices. HR professionals, business leaders and managers everywhere have the chance to re-center their organizations as strategic, caring and able to handle crises. After COVID-19, nothing will be the same, so now is the time to decide what to clean up and what to throw out as we step into this new world of work. Jeremy Spake is a principal of thought leadership & strategy at Cornerstone. Â

Learning in a Socially Distanced World
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Learning in a Socially Distanced World

The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces. +++++ They say you should try to maintain your old routines during a crisis. When our team at Cornerstone moved to fully-remote work in response to COVID-19, daily life changed for everyone. So did a critical part of my own work routine: learning. For me, it isn’t just part of my job as senior product marketing strategist of learning—it’s also core to my personality. I’m always eager to learn new things to the point that even my passwords are designed to teach myself important tidbits of information. My main source of inspiration for new topics and ideas to explore was conversation around the office—but it’s now gone. So how can I continue to absorb information in my new work environment? It’s been crucial for me to develop a strategy for learning and discovery during this period that will (hopefully) last well beyond it. Taking Stock of My Digital—and Human—Resources Luckily, the digital age is on our side when it comes to remote learning. At Cornerstone, all employees have access to an enormous partner content library. In addition to looking through available courses that might pique our interest, we can also see which ones are trending. As a result, I can stay in tune with the most important skills across businesses today, which include: 1) communication, 2) leadership and 3) personal growth. Beyond digital learning resources, other people can be incredible, untapped sources of knowledge. I don’t know if it’s just me, but there seems to be a “lag” as the old world transitions to this new, hopefully temporary, mode of working. My calendar is a bit emptier, so I’m taking the time to proactively connect with people I admire and schedule conversations to learn from them. I’m also looking out for opportunities to be a resource to others, too—I’m sure that everyone could use the human connection right now. Cross-Referencing Available Courses With My Goals With so much content at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to try to choose the most relevant or interesting learning development program. To help focus my search, I’ve chosen courses based on my personal goal to become a better storyteller—one with the ability to influence others with compelling visions of the future. I find it’s easier to adjust your message to an audience you can read in-person, in real time. But our new world of remote work requires communicating effectively without this kind of feedback (even video conferencing isn’t quite the same). So, I’ve committed to improving my remote communication skills. Staying Motivated and Accountable One of the most challenging components of learning remotely, in my view, is the feeling of disconnection. There’s no manager or team lead dropping by your desk to check on your progress. People are relying on work chat and video conferencing platforms to communicate with colleagues and, well, anyone outside of their homes. Because we may be in this remote limbo for a while, I know I need to get creative around how to stay engaged in my learning. So, I’m thinking about this endeavor as a two-week “learning sprint.” During that time, I will focus on setting achievable goals for my own learning, and pass along learnings when I feel colleagues will benefit from them. I’ll be proactive and tell my mentors—and even my colleagues—about these plans. And after two weeks, I hope to feel inspired to begin the process anew. These are strategies anyone can use—I welcome all who want to join me in pursuing learning for the future. In addition to surveying the online learning options your company or a quick web search may provide, you can add Cornerstone’s content library to your resource collection, too. Our platform is available to everyone for free here. Ike Bennion is the Senior Product Marketing Strategist, Learning at Cornerstone.

Mindfulness Is Your Company's Employee Engagement Secret
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Mindfulness Is Your Company's Employee Engagement Secret

A 2017 American Psychological Association study on stress found that Americans are more stressed out now than they have been in the last decade. We are in desperate need of training and resources, in addition to permission from ourselves and our bosses to take a break. In fact, a 2017 Attitudes in the Workplace Study found that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half said they need help learning how to manage stress and 42 percent say their coworkers need help, too. So how can we help ourselves and our employees take a mental break? Research has shown that mindfulness can not only reduce stress, but also build up our tolerance for stress in the future. But what is "mindfulness"? Defined by a 2004 Clinical Psychology study as "paying attention to one's present experience in a non-judgmental, non-evaluative way, mindfulness is shown to be achieved through a variety of practices, such as relaxation, meditation and yoga. Here are four reasons mindfulness should be part of your organization's wellness program. 1) Improve Employee Engagement As employers, we spend a great deal of time, money and effort on employee engagement and retention programs for our employees. But rarely do employers invest in mindfulness training and support for their employees. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Tulsa and Rice University found a positive correlation between employee engagement and mindfulness for a group of 102 restaurant servers. The study also found these same servers were less likely to leave their jobs when they practiced mindfulness. 2) Lower Employee Stress Health insurance company Aetna offered mindfulness and yoga training to their employees, and found that it lowered employee stress and improved productivity by 69 minutes per week. Other studies show not just reductions in stress, but also better sleep patterns, reduction in use of healthcare, as well as more stress tolerance and openness to different ideas, types of people and change. 3) Implement a Budget-Friendly Program Mindfulness is also relatively affordable to implement, as there are a multiple ways to introduce mindful practices. You could host a "lunch and learn" for employees with an expert speaker, a 30-minute mindfulness training, or ongoing meditation or yoga classes. In addition, you could try providing employees with a free or discounted subscription to an app like Headspace. Once you determine your budget, explore which mindfulness programs make sense for your needs. 4) Save on Healthcare Costs Regardless of budget, a mindfulness program will return your investment in decreased healthcare costs and improved productivity. A 2015 relaxation study from Harvard Medical School found that participants used 43 percent fewer medical services after joining the program, saving on average $2,360 per person in emergency room visits alone—translating from $640 to $25,500 in healthcare savings a year. Companies interested in a mindfulness program should look at a combination of soft benefits, like mental health and employee stress, as well as the hard benefits like healthcare costs, decreases in employee turnover or increases in employee productivity. Personally, I now commit to meditating at least 30 minutes a day. I spend 15 minutes at the start of my day focused on breathing relaxation, and 15 minutes at the end of the day decompressing. The change in my stress levels and overall mental health has been dramatic. I believe we all deserve permission and time to take a break. Photo: Twenty20

Rethinking Learning to Drive Diversity in the Workplace
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Rethinking Learning to Drive Diversity in the Workplace

2020 was a time of disruption: both in how we worked, and in how we thought about ourselves and our ideas of diversity and belonging. Companies haverenewed their commitments to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in the workplace, with U.S. companies alone spending $8 billion a year on DEI training. And according to Jeff Miller, Chief Learning Officer at Cornerstone, there’s a noticeable change is taking place in these efforts: “We’re seeing that people are moving with the world of DEI from more extrinsic motivation—compliance, you have to do it—to a more intrinsically-motivated mindset and driving curiosity,” he said during a recent customer webinar. And that curiosity is driving employees to learning content. Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) are the most popular topics in Cornerstone’s Culture and Compliance library, which serves more than 75 million global learners. Miller says learning should be a priority for all companies looking to boost their DEIB strategy. It’s not enough for Human Resources and Learning & Development teams to buy in; managers must learn to oversee inclusive teams, and to facilitate learning opportunities for employees. The best place to start? Make impactful learning content available to everyone. “Good content enables impactful discussion and triggers new ways of thinking. Together, these deepen the internalization of information and knowledge, and stimulate growth,” Miller says. “Good content gives us the vocabulary and the core tools to lean into deepening our knowledge. Unified language opens people's eyes to be able to talk, learn and grow, strengthening organizational culture.” Moving Beyond Diversity as a “Numbers Game” Together, Miller and other participants in the panel—including Head of Cornerstone Studios, Summer Salomonsen—discussed how to frame, create and utilize learning content more effectively toward diversity initiatives. Miller said he does worry that some leaders still see diversity as “a numbers game.” “The piece that many people seem to be forgetting is that it’s these unique and different experiences of how people self-identify that enable individuals to look at the same business process, the same product, the same people strategy, but interpret it differently,” Miller says. “When we diversify perspectives, we’re able to see work differently.” Companies with more diversity are not just seen as more desirable to work for, but really outperform their competitors, Miller says. Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their peers, and companies with gender diversity are 15% more likely to do the same. And, inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market. Innovation is more likely to occur when there are diverse voices to bring deeper understanding to challenges. And learning content can be key to bringing these voices to light. However, it’s important to note that content itself is not a solution for diversity, but rather a tool to be put to use, says Salomonsen. “Content is a way to open dialogue, catalyze opportunities and give your people ways to say ‘This should be different,’ or ‘I’m concerned about this,’ or ‘I want to be better in this way,’” she says. “We need to open the dialogue, and content is a great way to do that.” Using Content to See Your Business Through a Diversity Lens Learning content does more than just provide information—it stimulates thought and helps create lasting habits. According to Salomonsen, content should not be seen as homework. “Content should challenge you in some way,” she explains. “You should leave it thinking differently. You should leave it springboarded into a new behavior or a new mindset.” Salomonsen says the “old way” to develop diversity training was through in-person programs that often involved role play and dialogue, focusing on a goal of “respecting others.” Often, the learning was abstract and employees would leave wondering how to apply what they had learned to their jobs immediately and on a day-to-day basis. Similarly, compliance training can be “dry, boring, legalistic, check-this-box, you gotta get it done,” she says. “And yet the goal is, we want to help our employees make better decisions in the moment. We want to protect them and keep them safe.” So, Summer and her team took a different approach to creating DEI learning. They developed a new strategy that would not only make the content more engaging, it would also make sure DEIB content permeated the organization. In addition to standalone resources, DEIB content is also included in professional skills and leadership learning content as well. “We decided as a team that DEI was not just a topic, it was a way that we wanted to see and create content, and it’s a way to do business,” she says. All training on DEI rests on four pillars: unconscious bias, bystander intervention, empowering employees and building trust within teams. The goal is to empower employees to make better in-the-moment decisions and build trust within teams with the goal of creating psychological safety—a foundational element of company culture. Bringing a Learning Mindset to DEIB A learning mindset is integral to DEIB efforts, Miller explains—including the understanding that companies might never get it 100% right. The goal is to improve the ability to see differences that may be visible or invisible, he says. Learning is a powerful tool for companies to ensure that their DEIB strategy goes beyond surface-level events. “If we believe in diversity as a tool to enhance perspectives of those in the room, we will be better, full stop,” Miller says. Learn more about how Cornerstone’s diversity content subscription can help support a more inclusive and equitable workforce.

A Schedule Change Could Be the Key to More Engaged Workers
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A Schedule Change Could Be the Key to More Engaged Workers

HR professionals and employees alike tend to refer to a typical office schedule as one that runs from 9-to-5. But I don't know anyone who works from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Do you? That would mean no time for lunch if you work an eight-hour day. And, even if your official schedule does generally fall between these times, salaried employees often work more hours just to get the work done. For a long time, these set schedules have been the norm—at least for white-collar work. But times are changing, and organizations are increasingly offering more flexible schedules to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce. For instance, many companies allow working parents to adjust their hours so they can pick up their kids from school or get them ready in the morning. Remote work is also becoming much more popular. But even though some companies today offer more flexibility than they did in the past, many have been slower to innovate. Strict Schedules Are No Longer Sustainable The issue of employee schedules might not seem like that big of a deal, but the ripple effects are serious. According to a survey by Quickbooks, 18 percent of workers say their schedule harms their health, contributing to a lack of sleep and an increased level of stress. For example, an employee who commutes to and from work during rush hour might experience higher anxiety than if they were to travel during off-peak hours. Meanwhile, sitting at a desk all day can be detrimental to one’s physical health. You may have heard the phrase, “Sitting is the new smoking.” That’s because research shows that sitting for extended periods of time increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Beyond health concerns, working from 9-to-5 is just becoming less popular among employees. According to that same survey, 41 percent would prefer a different schedule. This stat isn’t necessarily surprising. One person's schedule preferences may be completely different from those of the person sitting next to them. Take what time someone prefers to get up in the morning, for instance. (Our biology has a lot to do with it.) Any parent of a teenager will tell you that dragging kids out of bed is a daily chore. We don't all automatically become early birds when we hit 25. Some people are going to be night owls forever. If you naturally stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. every night, it is awfully difficult to get up at 7 a.m. every morning. And doing so doesn’t benefit anyone: Workers who are groggy and overtired likely won’t turn in their best work, which isn’t good for business. Luckily, there’s a simple solution: Move away from the more rigid 9-to-5 workday. The 9-to-5 Alternative Making this change will not only improve the employee experience, it will also enhance the quality of work at and overall effectiveness of your organization. One study found that workers with a flexible schedule were happier, healthier and more productive than their 9-to-5 counterparts. So how can your organization take steps to ensure your employees function better? First, step away from the ideal schedule trap. Allow employees to work when and how they want—as long as they are doing good work and getting it done on time. The caveat to that, however, is that some teams and departments will require a strict schedule. For example, a brick-and-mortar store requires someone to open up and run the cash register at a given time. But most office jobs don’t require a set schedule. Still, you want to make sure team members are spending some time together throughout the day so that they can meet and collaborate with one another. Create core business hours that appeal to multiple peoples’ schedules. If Employee A likes to get into the office at 6 a.m. and Employee B wants to come in at 10 a.m., they can still meet between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Other employees will prefer to operate under what’s called a “split schedule.” This is especially helpful for parents who can't come in until the kids are on the bus, but would like to pick them up after school at 3 p.m. as well. With work-from-home capabilities, employees can work from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then log on from home from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. after the kids are in bed. This type of break is also healthy—our bodies and our minds are not designed to focus for eight hours at a time. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to employee satisfaction, but introducing more flexible schedules is one way to show workers you value their time and overall well-being. Work with employees to determine what type of schedule makes the most sense for them. After all, a well-rested, happy employee is a productive employee. And the more engaged your workers are, the more successful your business will be.Â

Ted Talk Tuesday: Rewards Aren't the Key to Employee Motivation
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Ted Talk Tuesday: Rewards Aren't the Key to Employee Motivation

This post is part of our monthly TED Talk Tuesday series, spotlighting can't-miss TED Talks and their key takeaways. You can learn more about our partnership with TED here. Daniel Pink is trying to change the way companies view the modern workplace. He is the author of five provocative books, including three long-running New York Times bestsellers: A Whole New Mind, To Sell is Human and Drive. The latter is the focus of this TED talk, and draws on 50 years of behavioral science to overturn conventional wisdom about human motivation. Dan has also been a contributing editor at Fast Company and Wired, as well as a business columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. In his TED Talk, "The Puzzle of Motivation," Pink explores what motivates people and how company leaders can apply this research to their own organizations. He goes on to explain what social scientists know, but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Watch the video below and read on for three key takeaways from his talk. "There is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does." In business, when you need to meet a specific sales goal or want employees to help brainstorm a new product, it's natural or even expected to offer a financial incentive as motivation. But Pink reveals that social psychologists have proven incentive-based rewards not only fail to inspire, but can also dull thinking and block creativity. "This is one of the most robust findings in social science, and also one of the most ignored," Pink explains. We need to find a new way to motivate employees—one based on intrinsic factors rather than extrinsic ones. "[The] new operating system for our businesses revolves around three elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose." Scientists who have been studying motivation have found these three elements are key to intrinsically motivate people. People want autonomy over their lives. They want to master their craft. And they want to be involved with something greater than themselves. If you can find a way to incorporate these three things into your company culture, Pink says, you will be much more successful at motivating people to be creative and thoughtful. "Traditional notions of management are great if you want compliance. But if you want engagement, self-direction works better." In today's "always-on" world of work, employers often struggle to find the best way to engage their employees. But maybe the solution comes down to rethinking the way we manage people. Pink explains that providing employees with autonomy can inspire more personal investment in the work. He offers Google as an example: Every engineer at Google gets to spend 20 percent of their time working on anything they want. The result? About half of Google's new products in a year are "birthed" during that 20 percent time—including things like Gmail and Google News.

In Times of Crisis, We Need to Lead with Humanity—Here’s How
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In Times of Crisis, We Need to Lead with Humanity—Here’s How

It’s been nearly a month since our company—and many across the country—instituted a telecommuting work policy for all employees. And with it, a new dynamic is emerging: an up-close-and-personal tenor to employee relationships. We’re physically separate but working from home means we’re connecting with each other in deeply personal contexts. Over video chat, I’ve seen my colleagues’ living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms; caught glimpses of their partners or roommates; even met their children. While many of us have worked from home before, there’s something different about all of us being thrust into it on a much larger scale—without the time to prepare a workspace, often sharing that workspace and trying to juggle the responsibilities of work and home simultaneously. It might feel awkward or uncomfortable at times. But my advice for everyone in this situation is to lean in and put people first. Being authentic is what’s going to get us through this period of stress and uncertainty. Lead by example and treat each other with care, empathy and patience. We’re all adjusting to a new normal and grappling with the anxieties and uncertainties that come with it. While social distancing requires us to separate from other humans, it does not require that we separate ourselves from our humanity. Maintain a Regular Practice of Authenticity Authenticity is not something that comes naturally to everyone in the workplace. For leadership teams especially, it can be tempting to try to inspire employees during stressful times with shows of calm and confidence. But there’s a fine line between demonstrating steadiness and coming off as cold and unempathetic. In doing so, we risk alienating our colleagues and teams. Moreover, while trying to maintain a business-as-usual attitude might be well-intentioned, it can give employees the sense that the company is prioritizing the business over its employees. People need to know they are safe and supported, and furthermore, they are hoping the companies they work for are willing to be open on a deeply human level. In any crisis, what employees need is leadership that gives them permission to be themselves. Encourage employees to talk about their stresses and don’t feel you need to have the answers. Being heard is a great step in starting to navigate change. It’s okay to show up without makeup on, holding your dog, laughing when kids are running in the background, or even give a home tour on your next video conference. If you can be authentic and show your vulnerable side, your employees will thank you for being relatable. Find Ways to Connect and Grow At Cornerstone, learning and development are core not only to our business but to our team culture. And in times of uncertainty, virtual collaboration and learning opportunities are critical. That means we’re doing what we can to provide online training and learning content to improve remote collaboration and help global teams stay engaged and connected. It’s critical that organizations demonstrate their commitment to contributing to the greater good of the community by forgoing business as usual, developing people-first policies and prioritizing the delivery of essential products, services or resources to those who need it most. This goes beyond supporting Cornerstone’s employees—we wanted to make sure we could help anyone who is transitioning to remote work use these resources, too. Through the Cornerstone Cares site, an online public learning platform with free training on managing stress during uncertain times and maintaining a successful level of productivity when working from home, people around the world can equip themselves with the tools to adapt to the new norm. Knowing the effects of this crisis go well beyond the workplace, we also put together a playlist with courses on topics like isolation, depression and anxiety to help workers prioritize their mental health while staying safe at home. At Cornerstone, we’re also transforming our regular quarterly Development Days into a daily Development Hour, where our employees teach their peers skills they’ve mastered in their personal lives, like knitting or yoga or negotiating. Now that we’re all remote, we’re simply hosting them virtually—and first on the agenda are stay-at-home initiatives like how to do chair yoga and even cooking classes. This familiar practice helps bring everyone back to personal connections and humanity, and hopefully gives everyone a center of gravity again—even if temporarily. Put People First, Always It’s the responsibility of the leadership and HR teams to create a safe working space for employees every single day and to continue to engage workers even while remote. Employees are looking to HR for guidance and support during this stressful time. They want to know that they can take care of themselves and their families—through sick leave, remote work or flexible schedules—without penalty. It’s incredibly important that organizations are giving options to their people, not only because it’s the right thing to do during a public health crisis, but because the way a company reacts during this particular moment will have an impact on the overall employee experience. But it’s also the responsibility of each individual person, whether you’re a manager or the most junior person on a team. Connect first with humanity and with empathy before connecting logistically. It’s an ingredient that’s easy to overlook. Remember that the wellbeing of your community – including employees, customers, partners, vendors – is essential to reach the goals you’re trying to accomplish as a business. The reality is that all of us are feeling unsure. But if we develop a people-centric work culture and collaborate as human beings first, we can get through this together and stronger. Navigating how to best serve our people is a daily challenge—I’m sure you’re experiencing the same. I’d love to have a conversation about strategies for putting people first. Please comment below or reach out to me on Twitter: @YILuvMyJob.

Unlocking the Secrets of Employee Engagement
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Unlocking the Secrets of Employee Engagement

For the last several years, I have presented numerous times on the topic of employee engagement because it continues to be a topic of interest. Like anything else that you immerse yourself in, I have learned much and continue to notice specific patterns emerging in the industry. Engagement continues to be a challenge to solve, yet I would suggest that within the confines of this blog post, we might find some answers. Curious? Read on. Organizational Citizenship Behaviors Going back to the late 1970s/early 1980’s this same question came about: what are the behaviors that employees exhibit such that an organization could flourish? In a 1983 research article in the Journal of Applied Psychology by Smith, Organ and Near, researchers answered that question, and uncovered behaviors they named Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (yes, a mouthful). Organizational Citizenship Behaviors or OCBs, for short, are behaviors that are exhibited by employees during their job and throughout their career. Smith and friends found two specific OCBs: compliant behaviors and altruistic behaviors. Compliant behaviors are those that describe your job description. They are the behaviors required of you to keep your job and are socially expected. For example, being punctual is a compliant behavior as you are expected to be on time for work and deliver your projects on time. Altruistic behaviors, on the other hand, are those behaviors that are not expected from you. They are not part of your job description. An example of altruistic behavior is helping someone else finish their project or mentoring someone in their new job role. Somewhere along the line, the term engagement replaced the term OCB. I understand why—OCBs sounds rather academic and doesn't flow nicely. However, with that replacement, I also believe we lost some of the term’s meaning and power. If we were to connect the industry definition of “engagement” with the definition of OCBs, I would think we are talking about altruistic behaviors, or maybe exceptionally performing your compliant behaviors. Josh Bersin operationally defines engagement as what one does with their discretionary time, which is the closest definition to the original one. So What? It’s nice to know these things, but as talent management practitioners, how can this be helpful to us? I can assure you there are many research articles and studies that provide some clear views on this topic as to how it can help organizations thrive. Many assessments will measure the type of behavior employees exhibit in organizations as well as other studies that have taken these two types of behavior and expanded them into more specific categories. There are entire consulting organizations devoted to this area. Yet, for this blog post, I conducted my own study, right here, at Cornerstone. Badges? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges Here, at Cornerstone, we have the functionality (in our product) to provide badges, or public recognition for a job well done. To the naked eye, it appears to be a morale booster based on social ideals. Specifically, it’s a feed found in your universal profile that colleagues can access and leave a comment. Mechanically, your superior is notified by email, and there is a record of the positive feedback in your performance file. It seems like it's a good idea overall; however, I would suggest that this strategy is the key to growing and developing our organization and it could be yours as well. Drinking Our Own Champagne Since this is a public view, I took the liberty of sampling over 100 employees (randomly) and counting how many badges they earned and categorizing them by either compliant behavior or altruistic behaviors (each badge usually comes with a description of work done from the person giving the badge to the recipient). I categorized compliant behaviors with comments that describe their actions as fulfilling their job. Often these comments spoke about how well they did their job; nevertheless, it was all about doing their job. On the other hand, altruistic behaviors addressed those actions that had nothing to do with their job on a day-to-day basis. For example, presenting on a topic during our Development Day (Cornerstone’s employee development day) certainly qualifies as altruistic behavior. I also captured the employee's region, their function (i.e., sales), what date they received their badge and their start date with Cornerstone. These are all public attributes in their universal profile, and I wanted to see if any of these items affected their compliant versus altruistic behaviors. What Did I Find? At first glance, I found some not-so-startling results. For example, people whose tenure was longer had more badges, attributable to time in the company. Another not-so-riveting finding was that people that worked together often on projects gave each other badges more often than those who didn’t work together (however, more on that latert). Then came some subtle, but more useful findings. For example, shortly after Development Day, those that presented and earned an altruistic badge often received a compliance badge shortly thereafter (a pattern), suggesting that people that exhibited altruistic behaviors got better at their ‘day jobs', or maybe they were recognized for being altruistic, which we know increases employee satisfaction (both the recognition and the ability to do what they love). Another interesting finding was that those employees that had what we call high social equity (employees are often seen in the limelight for consistent, overachieving performance), had more altruistic badges than compliance badges. This finding may suggest that people that are looking to solve problems, regardless of their job description, are more valuable to the organization and their peers than if they were just doing their job. After all, one does not achieve high social equity without the performance to back it. Understanding these cause and effect relationships (arguably, we need to do some more studying) helps us to create more employee engagement programs that induce altruistic behaviors and, therefore, their associated benefits. How Else Could You Use This Information?        Doing a similar analysis could yield several other factors that would help in your talent management strategies. Below is a set of talent strategies that I also categorized by either organizational goal or talent goal. Is there a theme to the altruistic efforts? Maybe there is a job function being underserved/underutilized that would optimize your performance. (Organizational Goal: Recruiting) Does an individual employee exhibit exceptional skill outside of their job description that would be helpful to others in the organization as well as to the organization? (Organizational Goal: Talent Mobility) If this latent skill is something that the individual wants to do, maybe you can incorporate it into their job description. (Talent Goal: Employee Satisfaction) If this skill demands a full-time job, maybe moving that person into a new role may increase their engagement. (Talent Goal: Career Mobility) There are probably many other areas that we could explore with this paradigm, but the moral of this story is that a small change in how we see and act on employee engagement may have a tremendous and lasting impact on the organization and its employees. Image: Creative Commons

Webinar Recap: Build a Stronger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Recruiting Strategy
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Webinar Recap: Build a Stronger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Recruiting Strategy

Improving diversity, equity and inclusion at our company—and supporting others as they do the same—is a top priority for Cornerstone, and we recently welcomed a new leader to our team to help further our efforts. Noel Hornsberry has joined Cornerstone as senior director of global diversity, equity and inclusion, and I’m eager to work with him in an effort to foster diversity in a changing career landscape. In our recent webinar, “Build a Stronger Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Recruiting Strategy,” we discussed common pitfalls in achieving diversity, equity and inclusion within a company and Hornsberry shared insights from his long career in DE&I. The Role of Mentorship and Sponsorship in DE&I With regard to recruiting and talent acquisition, the first step toward a diverse workforce is to identify advocates within the company, and failing to do so is a potential pitfall. According to Hornsberry, these players don’t “post and pray” in hopes of cultivating a diverse candidate pool—they use LinkedIn, attend conferences and workshops and actively seek out potential new-hires. The second potential pitfall? Mentoring without sponsorship. While both have similar goals, mentoring and sponsorship do have distinct differences. Mentoring, as Hornsberry explained, involves one-on-one conversations centered around career and development opportunities. Sponsorship is a leader—someone at the table—speaking on the behalf of an individual who is not in the room. In encouraging diversity, a company might create resource groups that put on events that foster learning, engagement, and cultural awareness. For example, there can be resource groups for African Americans, Latinos and veterans as well as ones for young professionals, parents, and women. For Hornsberry, a company that uses resource groups well is one that has executive sponsors for each group and makes sure they all have open membership. For example, women’s groups should not be exclusive to women, and individuals of varying backgrounds can join an African American resource group. Fostering Open Communication Continuous communication between leaders, or managers and employees, is another critical component for any successful DE&I program. “An annual review is not a relationship-builder,” explained Hornsberry.  If an employer is giving feedback just once or twice a year, they are not building a relationship with the employee, Hornsberry said. Building relationships requires ongoing communication so that it’s easier to have deeper, more complex conversations later. Sometimes, building relationships and promoting employee retention is about leaders looking for opportunities to grow outside of the workplace. Hornsberry gives the example of a former male colleague who was having difficulty retaining women and people of color. After asking his colleague a series of questions, Hornsberry found that he lived in a predominantly white community and was not often around people of color. He also regularly played golf with his male friends, but did not often socialize with women. With this context, Hornsberry gave the following recommendation: Become an advocate, and start volunteering. And the colleague did: He started volunteer work with the Hispanic social service agency Casa Central and donated to scholarship programs for recent high school graduates. He also set up a program that brought students from Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to visit his company’s global IT facility over Zoom. This initiative exposed the students to the opportunities within STEM-related fields and potential career paths. DE&I Efforts Must Extend Beyond HR Practices Employers can also strengthen diversity, equity and inclusion efforts by offering opportunities for employees to expand their perspectives and worldview. And according to Hornsberry, the best way to accomplish this is through learning. Training programs, like Cornerstone Cares, can introduce employees to new perspectives through lessons on unconscious bias and how it appears in the workplace. In addition, companies should look for opportunities to take on experiential work projects. At Cornerstone, for example, Hornsberry is helping launch an internal gig program that pairs employees with global project teams that work to address different social justice and equity issues around the world. This kind of program will hopefully allow for growth through experiential learning—the sort of growth that can influence both recruiting and retention. Examine the Communities Around Your Company Moving forward, as companies review their diversity, equity and inclusion practices, Hornsberry pointed out what’s also important, but easily forgotten: Looking at the community within and outside of your organization. Ask questions like: Does my workforce mirror the communities in which they live, work and play? Does my workplace have a healthy culture, or is the workplace filled with cliques and toxicity? Does my company market its products, services or offerings to diverse groups of people? Do we work with Black-owned businesses or businesses owned by women, LGBTQIA+ individuals or veterans? Are we doing enough to give back to the community around my company? “Volunteerism is a great way to make sure your company is giving back to its community,” said Hornsberry. “And it’s also a great way to help you recruit.” Hornsberry also noted that volunteerism is attractive to prospective employees. He also advises company leaders to align themselves with organizations that will help them to build their workforce and serve as sources of reliable information. Becoming involved with Black or Hispanic chambers of commerce, and recruiting from historically Black colleges and universities or the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities can help companies get started. Click here to watch the full webinar with Noel Hornsberry and Brianna Foulds. And to learn more about best practices and how to get leaders on board, explore Diversity Best Practices or join organizations like the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers or the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers.Â

What is Equal Pay Day and Why is It so Important?
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What is Equal Pay Day and Why is It so Important?

We build so much of our schedules around holidays and other important days of observance. These days’ predictable consistency is one of their best traits. But for Equal Pay Day, its inconsistent date is the point. Each year, whatever day Equal Pay Day falls on represents how many more days US women need to work to earn the same amount as US men did in the previous year. This year, it's March 24, 2021. That's 82 extra days! The goal of Equal Pay Day is to eventually be on January 1 every year because that would mean pay for women and men is finally equal. Like we did for International Women’s Day just a few weeks ago, we spoke to some thought leaders from around Cornerstone about Equal Pay Day. Steffani Frias, director, total rewards, and Jeremy Spake, senior principal, talked to us about Equal Pay Day's importance, why it's crucial in 2021, and what you can do to ensure pay fairness at your company. But first… What is Equal Pay Day? Started in 1996, Equal Pay Day is a variable holiday symbolizing the wage gap between women and men. The date is different each year and represents the number of days women need to work to make the same amount of money as men.  Why is Equal Pay Day so Important? Equal Pay Day is important because women are important. Ensuring equity in people processes is critical for talent management professionals, and one of the most impactful ways to do this is to ensure people are compensated fairly. Jeremy: Given all other factors being equal, if a man earns $100k from January 1 to December 31, a US woman has to work, on average, all the way to March 24 of the following year to make the same amount. This is to say that women make $0.82 to every $1 a man makes. And that's just the average. When you add on the further intersections of race, the differences are even starker. Asian-American women are slightly above the average, with their Equal Pay Day being March 9 ($0.85/$1). While Black women's Equal Pay Day is August 3 ($0.63/$1), Native women's Equal Pay Day is September 8 ($0.60/$1), and for Latinx women, it is October 21 ($0.55/$1), so almost a full second year! Looking at this data highlights for us the deleterious effects of how unconscious bias often shows itself in compensation. Steffani: To Jeremy's points, today is really about raising awareness of gender pay gaps. Women and allies are all in this moment of real change. We have the opportunity to continue taking action towards ending an inequality that has persisted for centuries. One of the things I like to draw attention to is the counter-argument that we don't directly compare men and women doing the same job when we measure the wage gap. That's a purposeful choice. It helps us capture the multitude of factors driving the gender pay imbalance that would get lost in just one-to-one comparisons. Factors like the differences in types of jobs, years of experience, and hours worked are drivers of the gender wage gap. Women are disproportionately impacted by the social norms that pigeonhole them as “caregivers” and other unpaid obligations. And then the skills these women honed — project management, financial management, people management, etc. — during all those hours of unpaid work aren’t seen as “professional” or “relevant experience.”  These "norms" are societally perpetuated. Over and over again, women and men are funneled into these different industries and jobs based on antiquated gender definitions and expectations. And with Covid, we see these confining social norms impacting women even further. The Impacts of the Pandemic  By now, most of us have seen statistics about the impact the coronavirus pandemic had on women in the workforce. And they're sobering. Jeremy: The pandemic has hit women especially hard. According to a study from McKinsey & Company, nearly 56 percent of workforce exits since the start of the pandemic have been women, and women previously made up 48 percent of the US workforce — almost half. Not just that, but McKinsey & Company also found that employment for women isn't projected to return to its pre-pandemic numbers until at least 2024. That's millions of women forced to struggle for years just to get back to making $0.82 for every dollar a man makes. Steffani: And as with most things, everything is worse for women of color. And it's not like this started with the pandemic. There was a study from I think 2019 that showed that most white women [66 percent] agreed that women make less than men, but way fewer agreed [34 percent] that they made more than non-white women for doing the same work. Equal Pay Day shows us that is categorically false, and it's hard to be an ally when you don't see the problem. To create more equity, leaders need to take action and address the biases that cause the wage gap and equity gaps. That's why there's no better time than this Equal Pay Day to introduce and ensure pay fairness at your organization. How You Can Ensure Pay Fairness at Your Company Gender is a social construct. We're the ones who set the "rules" for who can do what and for how much. And that means we can also change those rules. It will just take some work. Steffani: We see a lot of interest and engagement from leaders for a generally more diverse workforce. They're asking their talent teams to show them where they can do better. "Show us where we stand and the things we can actively act on." When leaders are invested and employees feel valued, people are more satisfied and invested in their work. To do that, you definitely have to ground your comp programs in fairness. Check to see that if you're reviewing at a set baseline determined by market data. Regardless of gender, age, race, etc., is this fair? These are not things we always see happening, but we do see a lot of intentionality and evaluation to try and affirm what's fair. Jeremy: To add to what Steffani said, the market data piece is absolutely integral and critical, but also, before it comes to rewarding performance, how are you rating performance? That's another point where unconscious bias shows up in talent management programs. And that's why calibration processes are the best practice. In an ideal world, you've got continuous performance management happening, so you're collecting data about someone's performance over the course of a year, not just at the end of it. Then when you're making these kinds of overarching performance decisions, you've got all this data and all these other people in the room to calibrate ratings. You can now compare and contrast how one manager rates a person compared to how other managers rate their people. "Does a four-out-of-five-star employee look the same to you and to me?" Calibration is critical to making sure everyone understands the performance baseline and what success looks like in your organization - and then that market data baseline Steffani is talking about is used to establish rates for specific roles in specific geographies or industry sectors. That fairness component comes into play when you're evaluating people's performance during calibration, and then the market data piece adds on to that. Those two things have to work in tandem together. Steffani: 100 percent, Jeremy. Ensuring pay fairness is such an important topic that we felt we wouldn't do it justice if we didn't give it its own, detailed, how-to blog post. Stay tuned for that later this month. Continuing the Conversation Thank you, Steffani and Jeremy, for taking the time to talk to us. If you want more information on how you can start or improve your organization's equal pay initiatives, be sure to listen to our recent HR Labs podcast episode. Activist and pay equity icon Lily Ledbetter talks to us about how to negotiate salary, equal pay for equal work, how companies can make swift, effective change, and so much more. Â

Why Effective DEIB Strategies Are Tightly Connected to Organizational Purpose
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Why Effective DEIB Strategies Are Tightly Connected to Organizational Purpose

2020 was relentless. And under-served and under-represented communities suffered the most due to a global environment that lacked the engagement and understanding needed to provide them with sufficient support and resources. Whether it's a governing body, an organization or an individual, we all have a role to play to better support those communities. And while many organizations are making an effort to address the systemic shortcomings that keep racial, gender, economic and other inequalities pervasive, there is still work to do. The opportunity for organizations to get their diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) strategies right has never been greater. The question is how can you best align your organization's strategy and activities to its reasons for focusing on DEIB? It’s a question that needs to be answered. Because the truth is, for all the public statements from organizations to re(commit) to DEIB, the actual public isn't buying it. Almost three out of every four Americans (69 percent) believe pressure from others—not a genuine concern—has contributed "a great deal" to companies making these statements about racism. And 71 percent of people believe business leaders are incapable of recognizing racism around them. Yikes. The people don't have faith in corporations to do the right thing for them. To address this belief, organizations must recommit to DEIB and build more effective connections between their organizational strategy and purpose. Making The Connection When diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging practices are tightly connected to organizational purpose, it not only demonstrates how organizations are following through on these commitments, it embeds that commitment within your culture and aligns accountability to actions. Right now, it may feel like many organizations are just waiting for someone else to figure DEIB out so they can copy them. But there isn’t one answer for every organization. The hardest part is personalizing a DEIB strategy to your diverse organization. To start building a DEIB strategy that aligns with your workforce, it’s crucial to create a strategy aligned to the specific needs of your organization and align the “why” behind your DEIB strategy to how your leaders and people will drive positive outcomes. No one organization should have the same strategy as another because each organization has a unique diversity fingerprint. If you’re interested in learning how to create a holistic approach to your DEIB strategy, I invite you to join me and Stacia Garr, principal analyst with RedThread Research, for our February 25th webinar, How to plan a comprehensive DEI & B strategy for 2021 and beyond. You’ll learn how taking this holistic approach will help your organization more effectively define, plan and integrate your DEIB strategy with other key priorities of your business. I hope you’ll join us. To learn more, and to register for the webinar, click here.  Â

Your Three-Step Guide to Modern Compliance Training
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Your Three-Step Guide to Modern Compliance Training

When you plan a learning and training strategy for your team or organization, odds are that one category of training stands out from the rest: compliance. The average organization planned to spend over three million dollars on mandatory compliance training in 2019, while some companies in highly regulated industries could actually spend tens of millions of dollars on compliance. It makes sense. Companies know how much money fraud and sexual harassment can hurt them, so they invest money in compliance training to prevent those losses. But the thing is, a lot of compliance training isn't really working. According to a 2016 Global Fraud Report, the average case of fraud costs an organization around three million dollars in annual revenue. And for other types of abuse, like sexual harassment, we know that many compliance training programs have not resulted in any improvement in workplace behavior since the 1980s. In a 2018 article in Harvard Business Review, Hui Chen and Eugene Soltes laid out the problem well: “Compliance policies serve important legal functions, but forcing them into legal frameworks may limit their ability to positively influence employee behavior." Too often compliance programs focus primarily on a company's legal liability, but do nothing to address the actual underlying causes of fraud or abuse. Many compliance programs simply aren't designed to correct behavior. Instead, they're designed to exist as a legal defense. Compliance training doesn't have to be this way. We've been working on a more comprehensive and modern approach to compliance that targets the root causes of fraud and abuse, helps teams build inclusive and ethical cultures, and actually prevents the behaviors that compliance training is supposed to target. Here's a three-step guide for designing an effective modern compliance training program that can cover all of your compliance needs in a way that will resonate with employees: 1) Start With the Foundations: Unconscious Bias Before you can suggest specific behaviors for your employees to exhibit (or to avoid), it's helpful to give your employees the tools to understand what leads to exclusionary or unethical behavior in the first place. Unconscious Bias training helps employees locate their blind spots—the implicit, potentially harmful associations they make based on their background or experiences, often without realizing it. Rolling out Unconscious Bias training as your first compliance topic enables your employees to reflect on their current practices before they learn new specific behaviors. 2) Next Up: Proactive Inclusion and Anti-Harassment & Discrimination After setting the foundation on a personal level with unconscious bias, it's time to target the overall culture of your workplace. True compliance—whether it's maintaining a workplace free from sexual harassment and discrimination, or making sure no one engages in financial crimes like insider trading—takes an entire organization. Strong Sexual Harassment Prevention and Anti-Discrimination training focuses on building inclusive cultures where people feel empowered to act when they see something wrong. They teach employees to take responsibility as bystanders and speak up when necessary, which helps build trust amongst the team so that everyone feels safe to be their best selves at work. 3) Target Your Organization's Needs From a Perspective of Trust and Empowerment Now that you've given your employees the tools they need to build a safe and productive environment at work, you'll have them primed for more complex forms of learning. Depending on your organization's priorities, this could be a good place to slot in topics like LGBTQ Inclusion or Working on Multi-Generational Teams. Now, instead of making these into lists of rules to follow, you can situate them as part of a larger theme of acting ethically and building trust as an organization. Consider also offering learning around topics such as Mental Health at Work or Balancing Work as a Parent to dive further into specific ways every individual can make your workplace a high-functioning and safe environment for everyone. The idea here is to get specific based on your organization's needs, drawing on the foundations you've set up already to address compliance needs from an inclusive and action-oriented angle. Modernize Your Compliance With the legal ramifications that surround compliance training topics, it's easy to lose sight of a simple truth: if you're going to teach employees compliance topics, you actually need to give them an opportunity to learn. You can't just provide a bunch of rules and expect people to know how to follow them. Successful compliance training takes employees on a journey, setting them up with foundations that will help those employees activate what they've learned when the time comes to put their knowledge into action. When done right, compliance training doesn't just reduce legal liability. It actually helps people and organizations perform at the top of their game. Looking for Modern Compliance content that will drive true behavior change across your organization? Get in touch to learn more about our Modern Compliance content subscription.

A Day in the Life of a Workplace Wellness Expert
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A Day in the Life of a Workplace Wellness Expert

Between afternoon yoga classes, discounted gym memberships and healthier food options, workplace wellness initiatives are on the rise — nearly 80 percent of people who work for organizations with 50 or more employees have access to a wellness program. While the ROI of wellness programs is still difficult to measure, the predicted benefits are enticing: Successful programs aim not only to increase employee satisfaction and engagement, but also curb healthcare costs. "A company not focused on the total well-being of their team members is a company who may not have high productivity. Retention may suffer and recruiting the best talent may be compromised in this marketplace," explains Heather Provino, Chief Executive Officer of Provant, a workplace health and wellness solutions provider. To learn more about the rise of workplace wellness and the people pushing the programs forward, we spoke with four corporate wellness experts about the challenges they encounter, their current initiatives and their best advice for companies looking to create healthier work environments. Kerry Cragin Title: HR and Wellness Manager at Catharsis Productions How did you get involved in workplace wellness? I have a deep interest in taking care of employees holistically. My current employer, Catharsis Productions, was very invested in developing a wellness program and loved the experience I could bring with corporate wellness, counseling and being a yoga teacher. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? I just returned from the Mindful Leadership Summit in D.C., where business professionals from around the world met about how to bring mindfulness practices into the workplace. I am currently working on a step-by-step process to integrate this practice into our workplace culture. What qualities make for a successful wellness initiative in the workplace? First, a company needs to assess how its employees define wellness. Then, build a wellness committee with employees who represent all sectors of your business and use their voices to build programs. Mary Beth Helgens Title: Corporate Health and Wellness Coach at Benchmark, Inc. What's the most challenging part about your job? Keeping programs fresh and appealing to a wide audience. Another important, very delicate component of any program is for employees to understand that their results and any coaching that takes place is totally confidential — that can be a big hurdle. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? Group coaching for employees. Having employees meet together around a common interest and goal will hopefully provide more accountability and motivation. What qualities make for a successful wellness initiative in the workplace? Executive involvement, an incentive that is realistic, desired, and empowering, and a wide variety of options for participation. Fiona Gathright Title: President and CEO, Wellness Corporate Solutions How did you get involved in workplace wellness? I started my own company in 2004 in pursuit of my passion for health, nutrition and wellness. As the industry has matured, we've branched out to do a host of things including biometric screenings to assess employee health risk, health coaching and implementing wellness and stress-reduction programs. What's the most challenging part about your job? Building a culture of health and wellness takes time. The most challenging part can be getting employers to understand the long-term benefits in addition to short-term cost reduction. What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? For one of our larger clients, we built a network of 900 wellness champions to bring programs to each location in the U.S. We are also helping this company expand wellness initiatives to global employees. Katie Bressack Title: Holistic Health Coach and Yoga Teacher, Balanced Beings How did you get involved in workplace wellness? Living in New York City and working a corporate job, I was chronically sick for a year. I finally found a doctor who was able to help me focus on why I kept getting sick, rather than just giving me medication. My health and job performance improved as I began to do small things throughout the day — yoga during lunch and going on afternoon walks. I decided to go back to school in order to help other people in similar corporate positions. What's the most challenging part about your job? Often, as an employee, you feel like you don't have the time to spend on yourself at your job. You feel guilty for going for a walk, or taking a lunch break. The biggest challenge is empowering managers about the benefits of letting employees feel more at ease. What qualities make for a successful wellness initiative in the workplace? Get management involved, and have incentives in place for employees. Header photo: Creative Commons

Hiring for Culture Is a Win-Win—Here's How to do It Right
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Hiring for Culture Is a Win-Win—Here's How to do It Right

To hire for skills or to hire for culture? It's a fine line, and most organizations hire for the former and indoctrinate recruits to the latter. But failing to consider culture from the beginning has its consequences. As author and speaker Louis Efron writes in Forbes, there are six main reasons employees quit—and all six things come down to organizational culture. This turnover has a huge impact on your organization's bottom line: It hurts the productivity of the employees who remain, hampers service to customers and, ultimately, cuts into profits. So, how do firms avoid this "culture" turnover? Don't Just Focus on Skills Traditionally, organizations hire for skill. Job seekers present themselves based on their skills, and this can often build a wall around culture discrepancies. Résumés that perfectly match the hard requirements of a job look great on paper and speed through applicant tracking systems, but skills shouldn't be mistaken for talent—especially skills that can be learned on the job. A lot of the conversation around specific skills vs. talent comes down to industry and seniority: If a tech company is looking for a product manager, it should be a given that a recruit knows the basics of coding. Recruits who do not have the foundational skills for a particular job or even industry should not be applying for those positions. But there are some skills or experiences that don't necessarily need to be part of a job requirement—while a records manager should know how to create a taxonomy, on-the-job training is what will teach her the skills to learn the organization's management software. It is only a bonus if she already knows it. Culture Can't Be "Taught" As opposed to skills, you cannot teach organizational culture. Culture is the collective effort, values, and personalities of everyone in the organization, from the C-suite to the junior-most employee. Culture comes down to the values of the organization and how employees model those values—not how many perks you offer. At Amazon, one of its most influential values is "Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit." As an Amazon employee, if you have an opinion about something, the organization values both that opinion and your ability to defend it. An employee who doesn't value her own opinions enough to properly defend them may not be a good fit for a company like Amazon. The opposite of this coin is that Amazon expects its employees to respect others' opinions and views. Hires who can't disagree, commit, and respect will likely not last at Amazon. But "hiring for culture" isn't as easy as it may sound—you can't simply look at a candidate and guess if she will "fit in" with the others. How to Evaluate Cultural Fit In his presentation Culture Driven Companies, Dr. Mark Allen defines corporate culture as "what it feels to be part of an organization." In other words, corporate culture consists of not just the values of the company, like Amazon's "Have Backbone," but also of the unwritten daily rituals of a company; the unspoken rules; the "how we do things here." How, then, do you evaluate a candidate for organizational culture fit? Many interviewers do something similar to Katie Buton's suggestions in Harvard Business Review: simply ask questions about values. What type of culture do you thrive in? (Does the response reflect your organizational culture?) What values are you drawn to and what's your ideal workplace? Why do you want to work here? How would you describe our culture based on what you've seen? Is this something that works for you? Unfortunately, as Will Stanley rightly points out in an article for Entrepreneur.com, asking these values-based questions won't always lead to accurate answers. Instead, Stanley recommends asking behavior-based questions to understand a candidate's values in the context of a real or hypothetical situation. Instead of asking a new hire to tell you about his values, ask him questions that show you his values. For example, if your organization values collaboration and opinions, like Amazon does, ask a behavior-based question like, "It's your first month on the job. You are in a team meeting and asked to offer constructive criticism on a colleague's work. What do you do?" Certainly, a recruit can say he will act a given way and then behave completely differently—however, a behavior-based, contextual question is much more likely to give you an accurate answer of his values than asking about values directly. A Two-Way Street Remember: Cultural fit isn't about sliding into a mold, it's about starting with the same foundational character. In organizations, cultural fit is about the two-way street of growth. Organizations don't grow without employees who are in it for the long haul. New hires that don't fit the culture are just as likely to leave as new hires that don't arrive at the organization with basic skills necessary, like HTML for a coder or taxonomy for a records manager. The turnover of these employees takes a toll that isn't just fiscal. It lowers morale for remaining employees, adds to their workload and hinders the growth of the organization in other ways. When you hire for culture, everyone benefits. The new hire finds an organization in which she will flourish, and the organization finds an employee who will contribute more than hours worked. It's a win-win. Photo: Creative Commons

Struggling with Engagement? Josh Bersin Talks About the 'Irresistible Workplace’
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Struggling with Engagement? Josh Bersin Talks About the 'Irresistible Workplace’

Employee engagement is a tough nut for any business to crack. Failure to adapt to employees' career expectations or to ease their sense of being overwhelmed — by work demands, by constant technology distractions or by the disappearance of work/life balance — can drag down more than engagement. Performance and profitability suffer, too. Those problems won't work themselves out, of course. A solution lies in creating what Josh Bersin, founder of talent management consulting firm Bersin by Deloitte, calls an "irresistible workplace." The concept stems from research conducted for the Deloitte 2014 Human Capital Trends Study. Bersin says the research identified two fundamental changes that has altered the relationship between employees and employers: The significant, ongoing employee engagement problem that businesses struggle to solve. Business leaders struggle to pinpoint the specific problems, though, partly because Millennials are flooding into the workforce with different expectations than pervious generations. Employees are now inundated with so much information and technological distractions that they feel overwhelmed. "We have so much technology that’s infiltrated our lives that the barriers between work and life have disappeared, so many employees feel that they are just overwhelmed by the pace and the volume of activity that they’re dealing with at work," Bersin says. "It’s created a real engagement crisis." The good news for business leaders? There’s hope. Watch Bersin's interview below with our irresistible friend Bill Kutik, veteran technology columnist for Human Resource Executive, about what the "irresistible workplace" entails, and why it's crucial to talent management.

 Empower Managers and Employees to Support Wellness at Work
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Empower Managers and Employees to Support Wellness at Work

Even before a global pandemic upended our lives, nearly three-fourths of workers said they experienced burnout at their jobs. Now, 69% of workers say that the COVID-19 pandemic is the single most stressful time of their entire career — and this unprecedented stress is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health. A recent CDC survey found that 41% of Americans are struggling with mental health issues stemming from the pandemic. Responding to employee wellness right now is essential, and companies need to shift their mindset about employee health. According to the annual Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey, 96% of respondents agreed that organizations are responsible for their employees’ well-being, but despite that, nearly 80% said that well-being is not being integrated into their work environment. Using learning content to support your managers and employees is a key way your organization can demonstrate a commitment to wellness, both personally and professionally. COVID-19 has created an opportunity and an obligation for companies to support their employees, create safe spaces and help get meaningful work done during a time of high stress—and learning content is there to meet the need. In March 2020 alone, people across the globe engaged with 27.5 million hours of content on Cornerstone’s learning platform, and nearly half of our Cornerstone Learning clients saw an increase in logins in March 2020. When creating and curating wellness learning content for Cornerstone, we knew we needed to address the stress people have felt since the pandemic began. Having practical tips and tangible tools to manage stress can help team leads and employees at every level succeed at work. Using Learning Content to Help Managers Support Wellness In any stressful time, learning content in the hands of managers can support changed behaviors and mindsets. Managers can better understand how to be available and present, both in all-hands situations and in one-on-ones—and according to a recent Harvard Business Review study, employees who feel their managers don’t communicate well are 23% more likely to experience a decline in mental health. By understanding how to recognize signs of burnout and stress, how to model wellness and how to have empathetic conversations, leaders can support their employees during any difficult time. Learning content can help your managers: Normalize mental health throughout your entire organization. The most important thing that managers can do for employees is to create an environment for psychological safety. What does that mean? It means that employees who may need to speak about difficult topics, like mental health and wellness, feel comfortable doing so. To measure the psychological safety of your team, try this publicly available survey today.  Facilitate social interactions. Connections at work can go a long way to mitigating feelings of loneliness, isolation and stress. The pandemic changed who we see on a daily basis, stripping away many in-person interactions with coworkers. With many workers still operating remotely, it can be harder to have these social interactions, but managers can work to make sure team members are still connecting with their colleagues across the company.  Identify signs of burnout in team members. Stress is inevitable at work. And while stress can sometimes help focus your energy, other times it can feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water. Unaddressed burnout can affect performance, morale and willingness to help others. Keep an eye out for people taking lots of sick days, drops in productivity or lots of people quitting. Learn how to talk to your team and give them the chance to raise any concerns at an early stage, before burnout takes over. Providing Learning Content as a Wellness Resource for Employees Content can also provide wellness tips directly to employees, giving them tools to manage stress and boost mindfulness that they can bring to the workday. Everyone feels emotions at work — and that’s OK! Content can help your employees process those emotions, gain self-awareness and understand when they may need to ask for help. Learning content can help your employees: Understand what triggers stress. The body has a physical response to stressful situations that can make it difficult to solve problems, make decisions and react rationally. To recognize trends about how you feel in intense moments, do a body scan to evaluate how you’re physically reacting. Then try to describe exactly how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Create the space to recharge. Mental health isn’t static — it’s something experienced on a continuum. And employees should take time to recharge when they slip toward one end of the spectrum. From scheduling screen breaks to taking walks, there are plenty of ways to build space into daily work routines. Take advantage of mental health days. Sometimes, recharging might take more than a quick walk or a screen break. It’s okay if you need a day away from work to get up and running again. And remember: The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of disability, including many mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and ADHD. Employees with a mental health condition have the right to reasonable accommodations to help them perform their essential job functions. Turning Uncertainty into Understanding with Content In a recent webinar, we participated in together, Liggy Webb, the award-winning author and expert on human resilience, talked about how our current environment can feel like the military acronym VUCA, standing for “volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.” That probably sounds familiar to a lot of people right now. But as Liggy pointed out, there’s are counterparts to consider: vision, understanding, clarity and agility. Content can help bring this transition to life. With the resources to understand and address wellness in the workplace, think about what this might look like for employers with stressed-out employees: Being curious about employee needs. Knowing which resources can help. Clearly communicating to help avoid information anxiety. Having a fast response that adapts to new information. This can all help navigate stressful challenges in the most positive ways possible. Looking for more ways learning content can help with stress management, mindfulness and returning to work? Join our virtual Learning Content Summit on May 12. Or try some of our free mental wellness courses, click here and choose the Wellness category.

4 Ways HR Analytics Can Improve Workplace Diversity
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4 Ways HR Analytics Can Improve Workplace Diversity

The U.S. has always been known as a melting pot; diversity is its strong suit. However, when it comes to corporate America, diversity has historically been lacking. Although 92 percent of U.S. population growth is attributed to ethnic groups and 36 percent of the workforce is comprised of people of color, only 21 minorities (that's right—21, not 21 percent) are Fortune 500 CEOs. Fortunately, this norm is changing as more minorities are becoming key consumers, clients and leaders in the workforce. In the next 10 to 30 years, census data says that there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States. Projections also say that by 2020, minorities will make up 40 percent of the civilian labor force. It's time for HR leaders to embrace the changing demographics—and thus, usher in a new era of innovation. The Business Case for Diversity Plain and simple, a diverse talent pool leads to diverse ideas. There are multiple studies showing that diversity improves organizational bottom lines: McKinsey quarterly reported that between 2008 and 2010, companies with more diverse teams were top financial performers, and according to a study by Lu Hong and Scott E. Page, groups of diverse problem solvers outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers. However, after years of trying to promote diversity by eliminating bias and discrimination in the workplace by legal means, it still exists. So, what can HR leaders do to combat ongoing bias? Eliminating Workforce Discrimination with Big Data Using big data for HR (predictive analytics, talent analytics, HR analytics and human capital analytics) may be the solution to cutting out discrimination and bias while fully embracing the demographic shift. HR analytics is not simply about raw data; it's about what insights that raw data can provide to answer questions relevant to your staff. While HR analytics may look to the past for information, its main function is to shine a light on current behavior and predict future behavior. Here are four questions HR analytics can potentially answer to help organizations move past discrimination and bias: 1) What variables influence our compensation structure? Without in-memory technology, all HR data—turnover rates, salaries, employee demographics, lists of available positions, etc.—was stored on different disks in a database. If you wanted to compare salaries to turnover rates and gender, you'd need to first locate the data, then retrieve the data from different disks before you even begin analyzing; the whole process could take weeks. In-memory analytics speeds up the process with faster, cheaper and more powerful memory chips that can be put in the server's memory rather than the database. That means complex data can be controlled and manipulated almost in real-time. For example, when deciding on performance bonuses, HR can quickly run a report detailing the twenty-year history of performance bonuses compared to years worked, department revenue, revenue by location, gender and male:female ratio. Patterns of bias in the past can be easily identified, prompting bonus structures based on solid data. 2) Who's likely to resign? Organizations can use predictive analytics to determine future behavior as well, such as identifying employees at risk for resigning. Recruiting diverse talent is one thing, but if your minority talent has a high voluntary turnover rate, you haven't done much to improve the diversity of your workforce. Predictive analytics can look at specific populations to determine who is likely to resign, and HR can use that information to create initiatives to improve the work experience of those populations. 3) Will a candidate feel welcome at your company? Using data can also help companies identify the core values and behavioral traits of candidates—and vice versa. For example, survey company Saberr uses algorithms to compile, process and compare fundamental values, behavioral compatibility and diversity to predict the potential strength of interpersonal relationships between certain applicants and potential employers. They do this with a survey for both the applicant and the employer that moves past skills and credentials, thereby bypassing initial bias in the hiring process. 4) Do we really need to address this issue? Perhaps the most impactful use of HR analytics is presenting data visually to easily demonstrate an issue and influence decision-makers. Data can be presented in graphic and statistical reports that are easy for leaders to understand—and take action on. For example, let's say 45 percent of your job candidates are people of color, yet only 3 percent of the hires are minorities. If leadership just isn't seeing the big picture when you explain it verbally, presenting the hard facts in a way that is straightforward, easy to understand and irrefutable may be the only way to enact change. Examples like these give us just a glimpse at the potential of big data to enhance the effectiveness of HR leaders. However, data is not the solution in and of itself—you need to ask the right questions. Minority candidates have been employed within a culture of systemic discrimination from the start, which often influences their work history. Simply taking names off of a resume and evaluating candidates by job title and education will only perpetuate the problem. HR professionals need to be careful to keep the human in human resources. If the right questions are asked, data-driven decision-making will prove to be a powerful ally to HR professionals working to reflect our country's rich culture diversity in the U.S. workforce. Photo: Shutterstock

Communicating with Employees Is Harder Than You Think—Here's How to Do It Right
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Communicating with Employees Is Harder Than You Think—Here's How to Do It Right

A clear and honest flow of communication between an organization and its employees is critical. But all too often, there is a gap between what your formal messaging communicates, and what's actually happening on the ground. Are your programs, leaders and corporate rhetoric in sync? Research conducted into interpersonal communication at UCLA reveals that only 7 percent of communication rests with the words that are said. The remaining 93 percent comes through body language and tone of voice. Now apply these findings to organizational communication. Organizations work hard to communicate important messages to leaders and employees: newsletters, town hall meetings, blast email and scripted communication tools for leaders are reviewed before release, to ensure that the right words and tone are used. Sometimes they spin the bad news a bit, so employees don't get restless. But similar to interpersonal communication, there is another side to organizational communication. No matter how effective the script or newsletter, there is a ton of "organizational noise" that often holds more influence over employees' beliefs than carefully crafted text. (This is based on my 40 years as an HR executive watching what employees "hear.") What is your "organizational noise" communicating—and does it align with the message you're attempting to convey through more formal communication channels? Let's explore a few common messages that are often disconnected from what's actually at work in your organization. "Employees are our most valuable asset." Almost every organization says this, but are you walking the talk? An employee may think, "You say I'm important, but my manager has not bothered to help me learn about this organization in my first few weeks, so that I can be quickly productive. I am left to stumble around on my own discovering things like key people I need to work with and where to find the answers to my basic questions." A leader might wonder, "I know we say employees are our most valuable asset, but I have 30 direct reports and there is no way I can give each of them the time they need to develop, grow and improve their performance." A long-service employee may think, "I wonder why the new guy gets a brand new computer, and I'm still working on this clunker?" "Teamwork is important here." A leader might ask, "How do I make salary increase decisions based on individual performance when we are asked to focus on teamwork?" A team might commiserate among themselves, "When 'they' say that teamwork is important, apparently 'they' haven't told the other team to meet their deadlines, so that we can meet ours." A leadership team member might become frustrated when she realizes that a peer has initiated a project that impacts her area, without having involved her in the planning process. "Performance is important to this organization." A team member might muse, "Why am I absorbing all of this extra work, when it is supposed to be on my team member's plate? When are 'they' going to hold him accountable?" A leadership team member might wonder, "I'm really glad to get my year-end bonus, but I'm confused because I know we didn't meet the performance targets that were set." Align Your Communication "Organizational noise" can consist of programs, policies, practices, and scripted one-on-one communications (keeping in mind that the best script falters when the body language doesn't support the words.) Organizational communication is so much more than the carefully crafted newsletters, email and scripts. Programs like performance management, compensation and employee relations are really nothing other than message points. The performance management goals tell employees what to do. Compensation plans communicate what the organization believes is important. Disciplinary policies are there to provide a leadership framework, and ensure consistency in treatment of employees. On-boarding programs for new employees welcomes people to the organization. So, what do your programs, processes, practices and policies convey? Is your messaging consistent with your corporate rhetoric? Photo: Creative Commons

What Does It Mean to Create a 'Culture of Failure'?
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What Does It Mean to Create a 'Culture of Failure'?

In my last post, I discussed the importance of failure in company culture. In order for people to take risks and push the envelope, they need to have a certain level of comfort with defeat. In other words, you don't only need to walk before you run to succeed—you also need to be okay with stumbling every once in a while. But what does this "culture of failure" look like, and how is it achieved? Embracing failure isn't about patting people on the back when they miss the mark—at its core, a culture of failure is about feedback that helps you make the mark next time. If you want to progress as an individual or as a company, you need to be willing to identify your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. However, even the most self-aware people are limited in their ability to identify these strengths and weaknesses on their own. They need help—and, based on my experience, they want help. If you look at recent research on the millennial generation—which, in many ways, I believe strongly reflects the desires of every generation—you'll find that almost everything points back to the desire for growth and development, for continuous feedback. Most people are craving conversations that push them to the next level. The question is, how do you get there? Build Structured Communication Creating a culture of failure comes down to communication—communication between employees and managers, between managers and VPs, between VPs and the C-suite. As director of talent management at Cornerstone, I've focused a lot of my time and energy on fostering the type of communication that leads to a company and workforce not only open to risk-taking, but prone to it. At Cornerstone, we train managers to provide their employees with "stretch projects." The key to these projects' success, however, doesn't lie in giving the assignment—it lies in the conversations that occur before and afterwards. Prior to the project, the manager asks the employee, "What's your likelihood for success? What's your expected failure rate? What are your obstacles?" After the project, the manager debriefs with the employee to identify successes and failures on both ends: "What were the unforeseen obstacles? Was the task as clearly communicated as possible? Were the challenges identified individual blocks, or systemic blocks? And if they were systemic blocks, who should have gotten on your side?" Teach People to Ask For Feedback With structured communication, employees will begin to feel more comfortable taking on stretch assignments. First, because they know the goal isn't success—it's growth. And second, because when they fail—and, usually, they are bound to "fail" in some sense—they will have a deep understanding of how to succeed the next time around. The second benefit of structured communication—and another step toward fostering a workforce comfortable with failure—is that it will teach people to be comfortable with feedback. When most people ask for "feedback" today, I've found that what they truly expect is congratulations. Why? It's not that they don't want to improve—it's just that they aren't used to hearing constructive criticism, and are therefore unsure of how to handle it. Structured communication familiarizes both employees and managers with receiving and providing tough feedback. After a few stretch assignments, employees will learn to be their own best advocates and managers will learn how to truly coach their employees. Instead of asking, "How did that go?" employees will learn to ask, "How could that have gone better?" And instead of a nonchalant "Good job!" managers will be able to provide both congratulations and criticism. Prioritize Growth Last but not least, it's not enough to simply encourage employees and managers to communicate or discuss feedback. It needs to be a formal part of your culture, embodied by your values. Because as I've learned during my career, there are two truths about culture: 1) Culture can be made and 2) Whether you consciously make it or not, culture will happen. If you aren't mindful and strategic about integrating failure into your company culture—through formal communication, trainings and leadership by example—you won't realize the eventual success that comes from risk-taking. It is critical to prioritize manager feedback, employee reviews, and general stretch assignments. As a CLO or CHRO, you can beat the drum of "failure is a good thing" all you want—but unless you formalize this belief, and immerse your workforce from the start in a company that encourages feedback and growth, you won't see a true cultural shift. An excuse I hear all too often is, "I want to give feedback—it's just that I'm too busy." The hard truth is that at the end of the day, your employees are the only thing you should always have time for. If you're too busy for them, then you're failing to invest in the future of your personal career, team and company. Like all good things, this is easier said than done—but as I've learned throughout my career, your biggest failures will take you farther than any small success. Photo: Creative Commons

6 Steps to Defining Your Organizational Values
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6 Steps to Defining Your Organizational Values

Organizational culture can be seen as a "personality" created by the organization's values, attitudes and behaviors. This "personality" attracts and keeps great talent, creates a positive public image and helps build long-lasting relationships with stakeholders, vendors and customers. But a good organizational culture doesn't spring up out of serendipity. It requires intentional and thoughtful identification of the core values the organization is built upon. Last month, I discussed how strong personal values can direct your organization in a positive direction, but it's also important to identify values for the whole team . Here, six steps to identifying those organizational values and building a strong company culture: 1) Assess Your Current Organizational Culture First, take a benchmark of your current culture. To do this, you need to truly assess where your company stands—not what you think it represents or what you want it to represent, but what impression the current brand truly gives off. What do people say about your organization, both externally and internally? To figure out your organizational identity, interview vendors, clients, employees and your leadership team—either in focus groups or via an online survey. Ask them what words they would use to describe what's important to the organization and how effective the organization is at putting those values into action. 2) Review Your Strategic Business Plan Next, think about your company's future. Where does your organization want to be in one, three or five years? Since your corporate culture is closely tied to your business strategy, it's important to define where you're headed early on the values process . Meet with your executive team to figure out a plan for revenue, growth, staff, productions and expansion. 3) Determine the Culture Needed to Achieve Your Plan Now that you have a clear picture of what your organizational culture is today, and where you want your organization to be in the next one to five years, it's time to look at your organizational values in this context. Review your strategic plan and answer this question: "In order for us to get from point A to point B, what organizational culture do we need to achieve?" Consider the variety of personalities, backgrounds, skills and education you want to have on your team. For example, some of Starbucks' core values are diversity, customer service and quality products. When you walk into a Starbucks store, you know you can expect a diverse staff, happy clientele and delicious drinks. 4) Decide If Your Values Need to Shift Now that you know the culture and the talent you need, you can start to finalize your new—or revised—set of values. Take a look at your initial survey or focus group results, and decide if those are the values needed to reach your strategic goals. One tool that can be tremendously helpful is a pack of Values Cards. You can put them on a conference table, and let the executive team start picking the ones they identify with the company. Or you can pick a few values, and explain why you think they are the most relevant to your organization's mission. 5) Define What Your Chosen Values Really Mean An organizational value is not just a word painted on the wall. It must be clear what specific behaviors and processes the employee is supposed to do at work to honor this value. For example, if your organization values loyalty, who does this loyalty refer to? Does "loyalty" mean the client comes first? Does it mean your team comes first? What about loyalty to your boss? Members of the organization should have a clear understanding of how to put each value into action. 6) Incorporate These Values into Organizational Processes Finally, your newly defined values will need to be integrated in all operational areas, including the talent lifecycle. During recruiting and hiring, ask candidates about their own values and reiterate values in employee contracts. Within on-boarding and employee development, align your values with performance reviews and compensation. A solid foundation of values for your organization will not only help you hire the right people, but also build an organization culture that's engaging, genuine and most of all, impactful. Take your organizational values to the next level by aligning them with your team’s core competencies. Learn how here. Photo: Creative Commons

Lifetime Employment: One Company Promises Never to Fire
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Lifetime Employment: One Company Promises Never to Fire

How would offering lifetime employment to your employees change your organization? Ask almost any HR professional and they would tell you that employee terminations or layoffs are the hardest and most heart-wrenching parts of the job. However, the traditional employment model touts them as a necessary evil. One e-commerce company, Next Jump, is taking a different approach, promising to never fire and offering additional training if a performance issue arises. In a recent TED Talk, "Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe," author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek used family structure as a way of understanding this sort of approach. "A company is a modern-day tribe. Hiring someone for your company is akin to having a child," he says. "If you have hard times in your family, would you ever consider laying off one of your children? We would never do it. Then why do we consider laying off people inside our organizations?" At Next Jump and other organizations that have found alternatives to firing, Sinek describes how this form of leadership creates a workplace where people feel connected, personally and emotionally. According to Jay Forte, author and certified workplace coach, this is an extremely valuable quality for organizations to develop. "We are in an intellectual workplace where our performance is the best when we are intellectually, personally and emotionally connected to work," he says. Forte describes these three fundamental connections in a high performing workplace: Intellectual: Employees have the abilities and talents to perform the role – they are capable and competent. Emotional: They are in roles that inspire them; they feel like they make a difference and are motivated by the work. Personal: They experience trust, respect, and meaningful relationships with their teams and managers. "Engagement happens when employees see something to commit to," Forte says. A company that commits to employees' futures shows them that they're more than just cogs in the wheel. Forte explains, "This type of leader wants more for their employees than for their customers because they know that an employee-focused workplace will create employees committed to do extraordinary things for their customers." When it comes to hiring as well, organizations that commit to never firing are forced to hire slowly and very deliberately. Forte says this type of hiring model (whether or not you choose to offer lifetime employment) is something all companies should consider. "When we choose wisely about who we bring into our organizations, we need to be aware we are making a lifetime decision," he says. "Not everyone fits in the organization. Therefore, choosing wisely initially is critical. Once chosen, it is right to think that employees will spend all of their career with the organization – this completely changes how we think about our people."

Facing an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality at Work? Here's How to Break the Divide
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Facing an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality at Work? Here's How to Break the Divide

The longest running sitcom in America, "The Simpsons," owes much of its popularity to Homer Simpson; a selfish, slovenly adorable character whose single goal at work is to get away with as much goofing off as possible, even if it means risking a nuclear melt-down. While Homer is a parody of the average American worker—taken to impossible extremes—he does represent a condition that affects much of the working class: an "us versus them" mentality. Homer does not see himself as a key contributor in his company, but rather as just another cog in the wheel—an attitude that can lead to a loss of productivity and effectiveness. So, how does a business fight this prevailing employee attitude, and what is HR's role in the process? Embrace Transparency — Down to the Bottom Line HR's current favorite buzz-word is employee engagement, with little wonder. In the October 2015 study titled "Technology-Enabled Employee Engagement: Top Five Features Your HCM System Should Have," the Aberdeen Group found that companies with dedicated engagement programs experienced a 26 percent greater annual revenue increase on average. They cited five enablers for engagement, two of which I believe are the most relevant to HR: "open communication" and "recognition." The Aberdeen report emphasized that part of your engagement plan should provide employees with a stronger connection to the company's purpose. For many companies, this translates to sharing corporate processes, values, goals, visions and does-and-don'ts, but they rarely venture into sharing financial information or explaining to a new-hire how she fits into the overall profitability of her department. However, communicating about financials may be the missing piece of your engagement puzzle. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Bill Fotsch and John Case explain how sharing key financial numbers with employees has proven to be even more effective for engagement than employee stock ownership. It's Not About the Spreadsheet As human resources controls the new-hire orientation and sets the tone for employment, you're in a special position to be transparent from the start. But if you just hand new-hires or tenured employees a financial sheet and expect them to be more engaged, you have missed the point altogether. The idea is to give every employee a sense of how their jobs impact the bottom-line. No matter how low on the totem pole workers are, for the sake of future employment and salary increases, they want the business to succeed. Explaining to the janitors that their work of diligently cleaning the facilities helped potential clients feel positive about your business—which was an essential part of achieving a 25 percent profit margin last month—will help them see their jobs in a new light. Fostch and Case found that conversations like this not only instills pride in a lower-level employee's work, but also encourages an entrepreneurial spirit as employees look for new ways to save money and increase productivity for better margins. The Power of Involvement In a Wall Street Journal report titled "What Your Employees Don't Know Will Hurt You," the author tells the story of a fast-food outlet where the young employees were taught how to read a simple financial statement. The managers would post a weekly profitability chart on the wall of the breakroom, and bonuses were paid based on how well the business was doing. It didn't take long for everyone to become interested in how they could contribute to making the profit margin grow. Whether you celebrate reaching your financial target with a cash payout or a Friday pizza party, there needs to be some tangible way to cement the idea that everyone in the company is important and involved in financial success—and that it takes group effort to turn a profit. A Battle on all Fronts Of course, HR will also have to convince upper management that financial transparency is the right path to take. Sometimes the "us versus them" attitude comes from the top of the organization, too. Traditions are hard to overcome, but once you've armed yourself with the right information to convince executives of the power of transparency, victory will be within your grasp. However, the battle is not over. Your recognition and rewards program will need to be revamped and designed to reflect your new culture of openness. Frontline managers will need to be brought onboard so that they too understand the new philosophy. Once everyone is fighting for the same team, "us versus them" will refer only to your competition—and I pity those who fight for your share of the market! Photo: Creative Commons

Are You Getting Your Employees Engaged?
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Are You Getting Your Employees Engaged?

Engagement is the emotional connection employees have to their organization. Highly engaged employees believe in what they’re doing, feel a sense of ownership and will deliver more than what’s required in their roles; disengaged employees might not even come in on Mondays. So if you want your people to a) show up and b) give 110%, here a few things to keep in mind. Engagement matters Companies with higher employee engagement experience reduced absenteeism and turnover, fewer safety incidents and increased productivity and profitability. Engaged employees are better brand ambassadors, creating more positive customer experiences and therefore happier customers. Basically, an engaged workforce is a good thing. More than money (or massages) Engagement is boosted by positive working relationships, learning, development and progression opportunities, feeling valued (as people, not just as labor units) and being empowered. You can’t rely on increased compensation or office perks; they’re unlikely to make a difference to most people. Growing companies have an advantage Smaller companies tend to have higher engagement as teams are small, tight-knit and focused on the common goal. There’s nowhere for underperformers or poisonous personalities to hide, and it’s easy to recognize achievements. Of course, clearly communicating direction and hiring the right people are critical for reinforcing this culture! Happiness is important, but it isn’t everything People can be perfectly happy at work without being engaged; they’ll do their jobs but not necessarily go the extra mile. On the other hand, engagement can encourage happiness: highly engaged employees might overlook the little things – no coffee in the break room for example – that would make less engaged employees unhappy. Managers are kind of a big deal Engagement depends not only on what the company can offer, but the relationships people build in the workplace. Managers need support to promote individual engagement: build strong relationships, leverage strengths, encourage development, and discover everyone’s unique motivators. Baby Boomers in particular are likely to become more or less engaged as a result of management support (or lack thereof). A very long engagement People are usually engaged in their roles when they’re starting out, so the challenge is maintaining that commitment and enthusiasm throughout their careers. New employees are usually encouraged to innovate, enjoy individual attention and get continuous information about the company, expectations and performance. Continue in this vein, and give them ample opportunity to develop and progress. So you’re engaged, or not. Now what? You can easily hire a company to measure your engagement levels or do it yourself with a survey. But it’s not enough to measure – you need to collect actionable, relevant data so you can make changes as a result of your findings. If you ask employees if they have enough learning opportunities, be prepared to offer more if the answer is ’no’. Engagement needs commitment Running an engagement survey and not doing anything with the results is a surefire way to undermine your efforts; remember employees who don’t feel listened to are unlikely to engage. So if you want an engaged workforce, focus on engagement drivers, Always Be Communicating, lead from the front and model the values and behaviors you want to see in your people. It’ll pay off! If you're a member of HR.com, come along to this free webinar on October 29 and hear what CSOD's very own Engagement Manager Rachel Light has to say about getting – and staying - engaged.

3 L&D Best Practices to Better Engage Leaders and Learners
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3 L&D Best Practices to Better Engage Leaders and Learners

Remember the old days of training and development (T&D)? I do: The T&D department at my company published an annual calendar of courses offered for managers and employees. The catalog was first distributed on paper, then on the intranet and eventually via learning management systems (LMS)—the distribution evolved as new technology emerged, but the concept didn't. Traditionally, it was up to managers to identify training needs for their employees, find relevant courses and send employees off to training, which usually involved formal, "butts in seats" courses delivered either in person or virtually. For employees, this process was passive—someone was training them in an area that someone else decided they needed to master. Learning, on the other hand, is active. To learn, employees have to take an active role in absorbing content, engaging with it and applying it to their work. The term “learning" is more appropriate in today's workplace, which is why learning and development (L&D) has replaced T&D. But changing the name of a department doesn't fix the problem. For learning and development to take place effectively, L&D teams, managers and learners have to develop a sense of ownership and accountability. L&D teams must actively engage employees and their leaders during the learning process. Here are 3 L&D best practices your team should adopt to better engage employees and their leaders. Prepare Managers and Employees for Learning To get employees excited about an upcoming learning event, help managers create a sense of urgency by demonstrating the link between new skills and job performance. Make sure that managers not only recognize that learning is an investment in employee and business success, but that they can also effectively explain this to learners. These days, most managers are so busy that they don't take time to think about how the work of their department, or their individual employees, can be improved. L&D teams can have a real business impact by breaking tasks down into key skills and competencies that, if improved, will boost results. This will enable the manager to help the employee recognize the opportunity provided by the learning event. Suggest Learning by Teaching Another effective L&D best practice that helps create a highly engaging learning experience is to have employees share learning content and teach each other. Managers can identify one small chunk of knowledge that would be beneficial, and send an employee on a research mission to learn and impart that knowledge to the rest of the team. Perhaps this involves speaking with a product manager about a new product and preparing a presentation summarizing key takeaways, or learning about a new piece of equipment through YouTube and bringing a hands-on demonstration back to the team. Help managers brainstorm teaching assignments for their employees, and encourage them to take responsibility for learning in their department. Set Feedback Loops in Motion Follow up, follow up, follow up. L&D departments need to start dialogues with managers after their employees have participated in learning events, and insist that managers talk with their teams about what they've learned. Provide them with some questions that they can discuss with employees, such as how the learning relates to their job, and how they want to measure any improvement in performance. When managers help employees own improvement, there is a greater chance for it to stick long term. L&D can coach managers on linking learning to performance, too. Overall, there are many benefits to an ongoing dialogue between L&D departments, managers and employees throughout the learning process. Through these consistent conversations and by following our L&D best practices, you can help build subject matter expertise, reinforce the importance of the new knowledge and strengthen teams. Photo: Creative Commons

3 Ways to Create a Flexible Learning Culture
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3 Ways to Create a Flexible Learning Culture

The modern career is no longer defined by a vertical ascension of titles. Today, we rarely see a resume with a gradual move from "Junior Sales Associate" to "VP of Sales" over a ten-year period in the same industry. Instead, people move from one industry to another, and one department to the next, gathering a variety of skills and diverse knowledge as they grow. The career "ladder" has essentially become a career "chutes and ladders"—where there are multiple paths to success, and opportunities around every corner. The new definition of careers means employees have new learning and development expectations from their employers. While people desire more independence at work, they also crave more personalization. Sure, people want to carve their own path—but they also want mentorship and guidance along the way. Here are three ways HR leaders can meet these dual needs, and create a workplace culture that is both flexible and supportive. Offer 24/7 Access to Resources People working across different departments and schedules make it difficult to meet everyone's interests and availability. Instead of offering infrequent, mandatory training sessions, develop a learning hub that covers multiple topics and can be accessed 24/7 on multiple platforms. Consistent access to resources enables employees to learn on their own terms and test out different interests—for example, a sales associate might be interested in taking a marketing class, or vice versa. Learning and development opportunities should always be readily available to those who want them. At Cornerstone, our learning management system is pre-loaded with content from our content partners like TED, Skillsoft and Harvard Business Publishing.  In addition to covering a variety of skills and interests, the content is available in different formats—from a 2-hour course from Harvard on management to a 2-minute video on how to give a great presentation. Everything online is mobile-ready, and we also offer in-person learning sessions. Provide Ongoing Feedback Recently, there has been substantial backlash against the annual review in favor of ongoing feedback. In my opinion, both forms of performance evaluations can be valuable—learning isn't measured by whenyou give feedback, but by how people feel about reviews. A true learning culture is an environment where people feel comfortable about asking for feedback and receiving it at any time. An annual review is only harmful if it's a surprise—and it should never be a surprise. People should always have an understanding of where they stand, and the review should be an opportunity to spend a couple hours reflecting more deeply on where they stand now, and where they want to go. A motto we use at Cornerstone is "Always be developing." We recently rolled out a course for employees on situational leadership, which encourages employee-led feedback. We're trying to teach people to be proactive about performance conversations, so we can identify their career goals and help them get there earlier. Align Employee Goals with Organizational Needs After defining an employee's goals through feedback sessions, focus on how those goals align with your organization's needs. Career paths need to support both vertical and horizontal movement, and matching an employee's goals with organizational gaps will allow you to identify unique opportunities for him or her across the company. In addition, aligning these goals and gaps will help your employees understand how they are making a difference in your company. The complexity of today's career paths also means people are shying away from simply defining goals by "core competencies," or a defined set of skills. At Cornerstone, goals are defined by three things: knowledge, behavior and attitude. This triumvirate is our guiding light when we evaluate employee performance, when we ask employees about their aspirations and when we think about new opportunities for our employees. We want our employees to know that we support their personal and professional growth. With the notion of a career becoming more and more fluid, it's crucial for organizations to see individuals as partners in learning and development. Learning is about empowering people to reach their full potential—and subsequently, empowering your organization to do the same. Photo: Creative Commons

4 Actions Leaders Can Take to Improve Gender Equality
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4 Actions Leaders Can Take to Improve Gender Equality

On September 24, DIAL Global – a community for Diverse Inclusive Aspirational Leaders – hosted the DIAL Global Summit, a virtual event covering topics related to diversity, inclusivity, and belonging. I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion on Advancing Gender Equality: Demanding More with Kari Daniels, CEO, Tesco Ireland, and Bina Mehta, Partner at KPMG, and moderator Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient.  Below is a brief overview of the topics we discussed on how we all can take proactive and impactful steps to advance gender equality in the workplace. Steps you can take today to improve gender equality in organizations Gender equality is a fundamental human right yet, despite progress, women are underrepresented in leadership, receive unequal pay for equal work, and are targets of physical and sexual abuse. The panel discussion was an unequivocal call to action for all leaders to demand more from our organizations – and from ourselves – to make gender equality a reality. Fostering a culture of belonging is important. As Shelley Zalis mentioned during the panel, belonging is a feeling; diversity and inclusion are tactics. So, how do we create a sense of belonging where everybody feels welcome and included? It starts with making diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) a strategic priority. When executives make it a strategic priority within their individual teams, it cascades. Be deliberate Deliberate actions create a more inclusive environment. At Cornerstone, we look at our meetings to ensure they have diverse attendance when key decisions are being made. If we don’t have enough senior female leaders, we make room at the table for other women to join the discussion. Setting an expectation that meetings are inclusive of both genders – at all levels – makes an unconscious impact. Be flexible In the COVID-19 era, it’s important to recognize that we’re all in the same storm, but we’re not in the same boat. While our business in 100% remote, COVID-19 has presented challenges in all aspects of our lives. This is especially true for working parents, and women in particular. We can’t let this moment in history undo years of fighting for equality for women in the workplace. Grant permission for your employees to be transparent with their family requirements and allow them to adjust their work schedule to accommodate their new roles as teachers or caregivers. But to do this effectively, leaders have to walk the talk. Talk about your family, model the behavior that you are encouraging your employees to display, and help them balance the demands between work and family. Be transparent Be transparent and trust your employees - it enables them to thrive. Working from home and living at work is a juggling act, and you have to trust that your employees can handle their responsibilities or encourage them to ask for help if they are struggling. Be a role model Cornerstone has an official mentorship program that matches junior employees with senior executives. Create a safe place for women to grow, learn, and ask questions. This is an area of focus for Cornerstone in 2021 and it is my personal commitment to not take my foot of the gas for DE&I. 2020 has been a catalyst for change A global pandemic, social unrest, economic uncertainty and more has left individuals and businesses grappling for a sense of what we used to know as normal. While the DIAL Summit focused specifically on gender equality, there is an opportunity for leaders at all levels to build and support diverse and inclusive work experiences for all people, regardless of age, race, or gender. To that end, Cornerstone is committed to prioritizing DE&I in our organization. We’ll be sharing more about our action plan and the future of DE&I at Cornerstone in upcoming posts from a broad range of voices within our organization. But it doesn’t stop with us. We’re committed to helping other organizations too. It’s why we created Cornerstone Cares, a free website filled with online learning content about topics that are exceptionally timely, critical and evolving day by day. Cornerstone Cares provides information, resources, and best practices to help you learn, adapt, and support others in recognizing and mitigating unconscious bias, how to prioritize self-care and manage stress, and much more. Visit Cornerstone Cares today to access timely, essential training resources to help you and your people learn, grow and evolve.Â

4 Facts About Biometric Screenings You Need to Know
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4 Facts About Biometric Screenings You Need to Know

As a wellness professional, I often receive questions from clients about why their employees' biometric screening results differ from what they received from their doctor or from the previous screening vendor. While there are a few factors that can create a variance, I wanted to do a little more digging—after all, the popularity of biometric screenings is continuing to skyrocket, and I think it's always better to have a clear understanding of what our clients are investing in. But first, what's a biometric screening—and why are they so popular? The rise of workplace wellness programs has also sparked an increase in on-site physicals to provide a better benchmark for employers when it comes to investing in their workforce's health. A basic screening measures physical characteristic such as height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure and aerobic fitness. According to the Willis 2014 Health & Productivity Survey, 74 percent of US employers include a biometric screening as part of their workplace wellness programs. If you're currently providing screenings, or considering it, here's what you need to know about the accuracy of the process, and how labs analyze biometric screenings: 1) No two labs will have identical test results Lab variance occurs when two or more labs receive the same blood sample, but end up with different results. In this event, technically each of the test results are correct. How is that possible? Well, according to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), laboratories are allowed a +/- 20 percent variance between other labs (which we'll dive more into next). Lab variance happens because the testing methods differ from lab to lab—each lab has different preliminary testing controls, different machines and obviously, different technicians working. When just these three variables are introduced into the testing process, the results are subject to minor changes. This is why your physician will send blood samples to the same laboratory, instead of multiple labs—the percentages for accuracy and precision aren't the same for every lab. How does this impact your employees' screenings? If you plan on switching screening vendors, inform your employees about it upfront. Otherwise, they may be blindsided by a potential swing in their health numbers without understanding why. 2) Labs are allowed a 20 percent variance The below image illustrates how variance works using real data from our lab partners over at Bayshore Clinical Laboratories. Nearly 5,000 labs completed a required audit on their equipment and testing method, which was then plotted as a whole to determine the mean. The goal for any lab is to be closest to the average, which determines the most accurate result. For total cholesterol, Bayshore was nearly spot on at 158.9, where the mean was 163. 3) Labs go through rigorous testing and quality control audits While results can vary, labs are still held to strict standards to ensure this variance doesn't impact your employee's healthcare provisions. According to Ken Jaglinski, laboratory director at Bayshore, labs base their work on two things: precision and accuracy. Precision means that across multiple tests, they must hit the same result consistently. Accuracy means that if there is an expected result, they must hit that result as closely as possible (like getting a bullseye, or as close to it as possible multiple times). How do labs ensure precision and accuracy? First, they run preliminary tests on every machine to make sure they are current. Next, each test sample is monitored through test validation and plotted on a quality control chart to compare to other labs testing the same characteristics. The below target represents an actual plot of Bayshore's results for a single test to preserve their own accuracy. Lastly, each lab participates in state-regulated testing to ensure as much consistency as possible. What does this mean for you? When picking labs to work with, ask to see their latest validation test, so you can compare their results to other labs. 4) Results from portal analyzers are not usable for clinical diagnosis If you want your employees to use their test results from your company's biometric screening event, then make sure your screening vendor is sending the blood samples to a CLIA certified laboratory. The problem with CLIA-waived or non-certified testing is that the results aren't diagnosable, so your employees' doctors may end up re-ordering the same lab tests for them. Dry blood spot cards are the best of both worlds: They use finger stick testing (the least invasive method) while still being analyzed in a lab (also the most accurate). Have any other questions about how biometrics screenings work for workplace wellness programs? Get in touch at benjamin@kadalyst.com. Header photo: Shutterstock

4 Key Considerations for Diversity and Inclusion in 2021
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4 Key Considerations for Diversity and Inclusion in 2021

Six decades ago, Alan Shephard became the first American astronaut in space. Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon. Just two months ago, a four-person crew successfully launched aboard the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history. And yet “here we are still struggling [to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion on earth],” said diversity strategist Torin Ellis, on a recent episode of my podcast. Torin passionately and articulately expressed his impatience and frustration for the slow progress society’s made over the past 60 years on diversity, inclusion and, especially, equity. His voice reverberates in my head weeks after our interview. Torin is not alone. The killing of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor unleashed anger and outrage among people young and old, black and white, around the world. But for many Baby Boomers, the summer of 2020 felt like déjà vu: Torin was quick to point out that the events of last summer were not unlike the horror and backlash we witnessed when cameras showed state troopers and county possemen attack unarmed marchers in the 1965 Selma to Montogomery march. That event unleashed a series of social and legislative events that attempted to ensure fair and equal treatment for all. We often say that change is a marathon, not a sprint. But 60 years is a long time, even for a marathon. Seeking to make sure we do what’s right this time, I used my podcast pulpit to access Torin’s unfiltered thoughts and advice. And I started by asking: Will 2020 be remembered as the year things really changed or will things just gradually slip back to the way they were? Torin didn’t hesitate: “I think it's a little too early for us to say. It feels different and organizations seem to be a bit more serious around the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives this time. Individuals inside of these organizations seem to be a bit more thirsty and curious about how they are going to pursue a change in their organization.” To turn rhetoric, frustration and even anger into good, Torin says the responsibility falls on both individuals and organizations. While companies need to lead the effort in making diversity and inclusion initiatives a priority, we all need to "drop the excuses and figure out how to do the work." To get started, Torin offers four key considerations: 1. Own Your Role Diversity and inclusion has to start somewhere. Many people suggest it starts with leadership. But Torin suggested that it is also “the responsibility of every member of an organization to own their roles fully. Every individual, after reflecting on where they have fallen short, is responsible for making the changes they need to make in order to create a just workplace.” 2. Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority The response to the pandemic was swift. We transformed cities, schools, workplaces, and even personal living spaces within days and weeks. Like COVID-19, discrimination, exclusion, and social injustice are also very real threats to our society. If we can create a safe response to a pandemic, why can’t we create a safe and inclusive workplace for people of color, race, age, and gender preference? Torin said, “The reason no real change has been made is not because it’s impossible, but because it hasn’t been made a top priority. Many organizations have started with initiatives such as unconscious bias training, but haven’t gone far enough. This is a great first step, but not an approach that will lead to lasting change.” Instead of relying solely on unconscious bias training, organizations need to promote more holistic efforts that will exist in perpetuity and have long-term, progressive goals associated with them. 3. Table Our Fragility Personal change is hard work. We need to accept, then unpack our personal biases and prejudices. This process can often cause people to feel attacked. One of the most difficult parts of these changes is that it is ongoing. We are never done working on becoming a better human. It is a constant process that requires reflection, understanding, learning, and practice to make real changes. We also must accept that we will make mistakes. That’s almost guaranteed. Torin’s advice: “Rather than letting the fear of making a mistake prevent you from diving into the work of being a better person, embrace the inevitability of making mistakes and be prepared to own them.” 4. Spread the Word It is not enough to only work on yourself as an individual. To work towards a truly just society, we are all obliged to get others on board. Create a safe zone for crucial conversations about the reality of our personal biases, prejudices and social injustice. Beyond that, encourage business leaders and influencers to join efforts to advance racial equality and accept responsibility for fixing their practices. It’s not only the moral and right thing to do but racism has led to a $16 trillion loss in GDP over the last 20 years. If nothing else, this finding must be shared and used to spark change. According to Torin, the biggest threat to progress is “the complacency of white people and the fatigue of Black people.” But if we do these four things, Torin strongly believes we'll be in better shape than ever before to shape to make real change. For more tips about how to make diversity and inclusion a priority in the workplace, check out a recent webinar about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and HR’s role from Cornerstone’s Advisory Services lead, Jeremy Spake.

4 Practices to Bring Your Culture of Feedback to Life
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4 Practices to Bring Your Culture of Feedback to Life

By Keith Ferrazzi This is part of our CHRO Community Series, which highlights big ideas from CHROs working to push the boundaries of HR and transform their organization for the better. Our first mini-series focuses on improving feedback operations within organizations. We all know the importance of honest and actionable feedback. The head coach of University of Louisville basketball Rick Pitino perfectly summed it up when he said, "Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer." The second you feel satisfied with where you are is the moment you get passed. So while the efficacy of a successful feedback system isn't in dispute—it can have a direct impact on HR and business metrics, including retention, new employee ramp time as well as overall business performance, profitability and share price—designing and implementing one can get tricky. After establishing clear expectations around feedback through the “three awakenings" (outlined in part one of this two-part series here), it's time to start putting your feedback system into practice. It's important to always remember that no one is entitled to give others feedback; it's a right that has to be earned, and can easily be taken away. Once you have laid the groundwork for the trust necessary to build a culture of feedback, here are four practices you can implement to bring it to life. 1) Start with Personal/Professional Check-Ins People need to feel psychologically safe in order to open themselves up to speaking and hearing the truth. Without the security of knowing everyone is aligned and working toward a collective success, feedback will sound more like criticism. For example, Gallup showed that there were fewer accidents in hospitals where the culture encouraged staff to provide feedback to leadership and be transparent. So, what does this mean when it comes to feedback and the workplace? When people feel safe and supported they will proactively give you critical information sooner, priming you to correct course and avoid mistakes quicker. One practice that helps create that trust and “team spirit" is starting staff meetings with a personal/professional check-in. Each person is given a set time, a minute or two, to share where they are in both their personal and professional lives at that moment. This helps the whole team get a clear picture of what resources are needed where and accelerates intimacy between individuals, encouraging candor and greater feedback fluidity. 2) Have a “Yoda" in the Room After you have established space for candor, it's time to designate a “Yoda in the Room." Like the Jedi Master, your “Yoda" should be wise, daring and comfortable with telling the truth, even if it's uncomfortable. In meetings, the chosen “Yoda," keeps an eye on the room and takes control when they believe something is not being said or certain voices aren't being heard. This practice helps exercise what I call our "courage-of-candor" and "generosity of truth" muscles. 3) Use Open 360 Feedback Methods The Open 360 gives team members an opportunity to give input on things they appreciate about their colleagues and things they feel could be changed to increase chances of success. Take care to establish both a space for candor and a “Yoda in the Room." Without the proper groundwork, the feedback will be less valuable, and in some cases could be counterproductive. When handled properly, though, the open 360 helps build an honest feedback environment that will continue beyond the meetings. However, if you don't have psychological safety, one of two things will happen: Either teammates will withhold feedback that they do not feel comfortable giving, saying only what is allowable in the current environment of safety, or alternatively, they can express themselves, without full permission, in a manner that damages the relationship. 4) Shift Away From "Report-Outs" Using staff meetings to have your team give reports on what they are doing only reinforces the dividing lines between people and their functions. If you are only thinking about “your" task and objectives, there's no room for teamwork or shared accountability. Plus, in the spirit of honest feedback, they're really boring. That's why we have email. Instead, share everyone's updates before the meeting, using the scheduled time to focus on a challenge someone is facing that the collective wisdom of the room can solve. Moving away from report-outs not only enables executives to get input from every part of the organization, but also collaborate more effectively; addressing difficulties with diverse but germane perspectives to drive innovation. Together, these four practices and the three awakenings are the building blocks for creating an effective feedback system from the ground up. It takes time and the willingness of others to commit to it, but once it's embedded in your culture, it's there to stay. Done successfully, the business impact of a company-wide culture of feedback is proven and undeniable. Photo: Creative Commons

4 Ways Technology Can Amplify Your Employer Brand
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4 Ways Technology Can Amplify Your Employer Brand

A job is a job is a job. When I search for Director of Content jobs in Denver, I see at least 75 results in the Google Jobs widget alone. The title doesn't pique my interest (I have it currently). The list of responsibilities is a given (I do them now). The bullets of requirements are expected (I've seen them before). I'm not impressed or intrigued enough to change jobs. All these jobs look exactly the same. What I'd be looking for is to change companies. Industries. Countries. Cities. Brands. Teams. Projects. Growth. Culture. Impact. I don't have to go too far out on a limb to say that other people in today's workforce, even across generations, feel the same way. Do people still want to know salary information? Yes. Do benefits still drive decisions? Of course. But we're seeing a broader attitudinal shift across the workforce today when it comes to finding, choosing and staying with a career. People are looking to work with a company, not simply for a company. And it's a little scary for those companies. It means there isn't a formula for winning top talent. It means companies can't rely on being a household name. t means shedding light on the good and the bad. It means having a plan for growth. It means acquiring new skills and expanding expertise. It means learning what the "right fit" is and screening out the "wrong fit." It means employer brand comes first and jobs come second. It means we must utterly change the way we've gone about recruiting talent. How? Shifting from selling jobs to marketing your why. The Tech Factor in Employer Branding Marketing your brand and your why means ditching the notion that jobs are the sun: not everything revolves around the roles you need to fill. Working in this mindset requires new technology, like a Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) solution or a Recruitment Marketing Platform. Here's a look at how these technologies can help maximize your employer brand by boosting awareness, differentiating your message and nurturing candidates over time. Career Site: Instead of only paying to attract talent on job boards, invest in a career site that can be your brand hub. Use custom landing pages to speak directly to your target audiences, like veterans, students or female engineers. Create unique talent network forms that encourage people to learn more about your company over time instead of applying when they aren't sure. In addition, use technology like a Recruitment Marketing Platform to ensure your career site is optimized for mobile and search, so more candidates can find you from where they likely start their career search: Google. Email Marketing: Finding the right person (if you're a recruiter) or the company and role (if you're a job seeker) is all about timing. Great marketers excel at this: understanding how to generate interest and then nurture that interest over time based on the person, what they're looking for, what their challenges are, etc. It's personalized, it's relevant, it's consistent. It's not as simple as sending the same open job in a mass email to every person in your database. A CRM or Recruitment Marketing Platform is built to automate communication and segment messaging based on your talent pipelines. For instance, GE created a targeted email campaign to all of the women who saw the Millie Dresselhaus "Women in Engineering" video; it featured a real, female GE employee in a STEM position talking about her experience and her path. That's powerful branding and helps your candidates align their "why" with yours. Social Campaigns: The value in using one technology solution to manage and measure all of your recruiting tactics, including social media, is that you're able to see what's working and what's not in one dashboard. Social media can't, and shouldn't, be siloed from your other strategies. Being able to track how certain content is driving clicks back to your content allows you to make better decisions about who to target on social media, what content and messaging to create and when to send that content. Analytics: Employer brand is a squishy thing to measure. But with the right technology, you can help prove the effectiveness of certain parts of your brand: email newsletters, new career site content, job descriptions and employee videos. When you can tie higher clicks and applicant conversion rates to a better job description template, you have a proof point for continuing to invest in these types of strategies over others. It's a brave, new world out there when it comes to talent acquisition. And to be brave, you have to be bold, smart and different. The good news? You don't have to be brave alone. Let technology help you. Photo: Creative Commons

6 Steps to Defining Your Organizational Values
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6 Steps to Defining Your Organizational Values

Organizational culture can be seen as a “personality" created by the organization's values, attitudes and behaviors. This “personality" attracts and keeps great talent, creates a positive public image and helps build long-lasting relationships with stakeholders, vendors and customers. But a good organizational culture doesn't spring up out of serendipity. It requires intentional and thoughtful identification of the core values the organization is built upon. Last month, I discussed how strong personal values can direct your organization in a positive direction, but it's also important to identify values for the whole team . Here, six steps to identifying those organizational values and building a strong company culture: 1) Assess Your Current Organizational Culture First, take a benchmark of your current culture. To do this, you need to truly assess where your company stands—not what you think it represents or what you want it to represent, but what impression the current brand truly gives off. What do people say about your organization, both externally and internally? To figure out your organizational identity, interview vendors, clients, employees and your leadership team—either in focus groups or via an online survey. Ask them what words they would use to describe what's important to the organization and how effective the organization is at putting those values into action. 2) Review Your Strategic Business Plan Next, think about your company's future. Where does your organization want to be in one, three or five years? Since your corporate culture is closely tied to your business strategy, it's important to define where you're headed early on the values process . Meet with your executive team to figure out a plan for revenue, growth, staff, productions and expansion. 3) Determine the Culture Needed to Achieve Your Plan Now that you have a clear picture of what your organizational culture is today, and where you want your organization to be in the next one to five years, it's time to look at your organizational values in this context. Review your strategic plan and answer this question: "In order for us to get from point A to point B, what organizational culture do we need to achieve?" Consider the variety of personalities, backgrounds, skills and education you want to have on your team. For example, some of Starbucks' core values are diversity, customer service and quality products. When you walk into a Starbucks store, you know you can expect a diverse staff, happy clientele and delicious drinks. 4) Decide If Your Values Need to Shift Now that you know the culture and the talent you need, you can start to finalize your new—or revised—set of values. Take a look at your initial survey or focus group results, and decide if those are the values needed to reach your strategic goals. One tool that can be tremendously helpful is a pack of Values Cards. You can put them on a conference table, and let the executive team start picking the ones they identify with the company. Or you can pick a few values, and explain why you think they are the most relevant to your organization's mission. 5) Define What Your Chosen Values Really Mean An organizational value is not just a word painted on the wall. It must be clear what specific behaviors and processes the employee is supposed to do at work to honor this value. For example, if your organization values loyalty, who does this loyalty refer to? Does "loyalty" mean the client comes first? Does it mean your team comes first? What about loyalty to your boss? Members of the organization should have a clear understanding of how to put each value into action. 6) Incorporate These Values into Organizational Processes Finally, your newly defined values will need to be integrated in all operational areas, including the talent lifecycle. During recruiting and hiring, ask candidates about their own values and reiterate values in employee contracts. Within on-boarding and employee development, align your values with performance reviews and compensation. A solid foundation of values for your organization will not only help you hire the right people, but also build an organization culture that's engaging, genuine and most of all, impactful. Take your organizational values to the next level by aligning them with your team’s core competencies. Learn how here. Photo: Creative Commons

7 Reasons Employee Sabbaticals Are a Winning Idea
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7 Reasons Employee Sabbaticals Are a Winning Idea

As employees put more emphasis on work-life balance, companies are catering to their needs by offering concierge services, massage therapists and in-office gyms. While these company perks make the workday less stressful, they don’t truly acknowledge the need for employees to escape from the office and their work life. That’s where the employee sabbatical comes in. These work hiatuses are great for employees and companies — employees have an extended amount of time to relax and rejuvenate, so when they return to work, they are ready to dive in with new ideas. Yet only 4 percent of U.S. companies offer a paid sabbatical program and 16 percent offer an unpaid sabbatical program, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. Most company sabbatical programs offer employees who have been with the company for a certain number of years a month-long vacation. Healthcare tech company Epic Systems extends that offer by covering the costs for an employee to travel to a new country, but it’s only company-paid if it’s a never-traveled-to-before destination, according to Business Insider. Benefits of Sabbatical Programs It’s understandable that companies are hesitant to implement a sabbatical program, paid or unpaid, since employees are valuable resources, but companies with sabbaticals reap the benefits of such perks. 1. Employees return rejuvenated and often feel like they have a new job. After working the same job day in and day out, employees often experience burnout and don’t feel encouraged or motivated to go to work. An extended vacation is the perfect way for employees to recharge and come back to work with renewed focus. “They are giving us the opportunity to have some reflection time and rejuvenate,” said Kelley Kirker, a concierge employee at email marketing company Emma. “There is a unique exhale when you have a month off.” 2. Employees find inspiration for new ways to grow the business. When a MeetUp software engineer returned from his sabbatical in Berlin, he wasn’t excited to be back in Silicon Valley and instead wanted to move to Berlin, a sprawling city for tech talent. MeetUp proposed that he open a software engineering office in Berlin to capitalize on the great engineering talent and expand to a new city. 3. Employees can focus on personal goals. During the busy work week, personal goals to start a new boot camp, learn a new language or volunteer at the local soup kitchen can fall to the wayside because work takes priority. “While on the sabbatical, the employee has an opportunity to rediscover old interests and friends, explore new ideas, travel, get fit, do retirement pre-planning or a special project, take care of family needs, and much more,” says Nancy Bearg, co-author of "Reboot Your Life: Energizing Your Career and Life by Taking Break." She says, “It broadens perspective and makes personal and professional priorities clearer.” 4. Younger employees have the opportunity to grow in their roles. When more experienced employees take a sabbatical, the rest of the team has to pitch in to do the work that the manager usually handles. This provides a great chance for younger employees to take on new job tasks and expand their skill sets. “While the employee is away, management and employees must step in, cross train, fill in, and find new ways to cooperate,” she says. “All of this builds greater depth and experience and flexibility.” 5. Employees are encouraged to stay with the company. Many young employees jump from one job to the next, often spending as little as one or two years with a company. Sabbaticals that are rewarded based on time with the company encourage employees to remain loyal to a company for an extended amount of time. 6. Companies show they care about what employees want and need. Employees want to work for a company that understands the balance between work and life, and the younger generation is demanding that their personal lives continue, whether personal and work life are mixed or kept separate. “In older generations, you did everything you had to do for your company at the expense of your family,” said Steve Hayes, founder of recruiting firm The Human Capital Group. “Younger generations realize there is a balance we need to draw.” 7. Companies experience reduced employee turnover. When Clif Bar asked its employees what perks they valued, sabbaticals ranked at the top, and partially as a result of offering time off to 7-year employees, the company has less than 3 percent turnover, according to Huffington Post. While companies may resist the idea of sabbaticals, they provide great benefits to employees and companies. In a workplace where employees are at the center and must be valued or else they’ll leave, companies must be innovative with how they’re attracting and retaining talent.

Cartoon Coffee Break: Fitness Challenges
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Fitness Challenges

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. +++++  We’re approaching the middle of January, and New Year's resolutions are in full swing. For many, that means being more active and creating a regular gym schedule. But sticking to these goals can be challenging, especially for employees who work at a desk for eight or more hours per day. HR can help employees reach their goals by fostering a culture where workers feel empowered to prioritize their health and by offering benefits like gym memberships or wellness stipends. Â

Cartoon Coffee Break: The Future of The Workplace
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Cartoon Coffee Break: The Future of The Workplace

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. In the midst of the vaccine roll-out, it’s getting easier to imagine a time when we’ll return to the office in some capacity, perhaps in 2021 or early 2022. More than half (55 percent) of 1,200 workers surveyed in late 2020 said they prefer working remotely three days a week. Whether or not companies adopt this approach, the future seems almost certain to have some kind of hybrid between in-office and remote work—and there will be a bit of a learning curve as we adjust. HR can have a monumental impact on how this evolution plays out with a concentrated focus on communication, collaboration, safety, and flexibility. Here are two key considerations that will help ease the transition. 1. Communicate the Office Setup in Advance The open office concept was a failed experiment to boost productivity. Fortunately, the pandemic presented us with a chance to rethink how we set up our office space. This revamped setup will look different on a case-by-case basis, but managing expectations will be a critical step in the process. HR can equip employees with specific information—such as office layout, testing procedures, and social distancing policies—ahead of time so they can make informed decisions based on their personal preferences and circumstances. 2. Explore Different Strategies for Remote Collaboration Remember, pre-COVID, when one coworker was working from home and had to dial-in to a meeting? Being on the phone was never preferable to being in-person, brainstorming alongside other team members. But whenever we return to the office, it’s likely we’ll all be working from home some days. Some of us may be one of many permanently remote employees. As we transition to the hybrid workplace, reverting to old habits—where the person on the phone feels at a disadvantage—will be counterproductive at best, but detrimental to business at worst. It’s time for companies to get creative with facilitating remote-friendly collaboration. Exploring new mediums, like advanced video conferencing, and new strategies—even for socialization—will be the bare minimum. HR at the Helm of Hybrid The future of the workplace depends on clear communication and an openness to new, creative ways of working. HR leaders will be tasked with guiding this transition, evaluating progress, and adjusting as needed. For more insights on the post-pandemic workplace, check out this piece by Jeff Miller, Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness. Â

Cartoon Coffee Break: New Year, New Zoom Background
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Cartoon Coffee Break: New Year, New Zoom Background

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. While 2020 certainly revealed the challenges of remote work, it also unearthed a host of benefits for employees and employers alike: like more access to untapped talent and new opportunities and less time spent commuting. As a result, remote work seems here to stay: recent research suggests some 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025. For companies, then, effectively tapping into this wider pool of top talent remotely will require a shift for HR teams. In 2021, HR must prioritize remote hiring as a permanent fixture in their talent acquisition and recruiting strategy. 1. Make Sure You Have The Tech Needed For Remote Hiring Even prior to the surge in remote work, companies have begun leveraging AI, automation, and blockchain technology to screen and verify candidates, streamline all of the communications associated with recruiting, and generally make the hiring process more thorough and secure. And it’s paying off: the quality of hiring has increased and the process is more efficient without losing it’s humanness. 2. Ask The Right Questions When Hiring Remote Workers While many employees are successfully doing their in-office jobs at home, remote work does require a different set of skills. When hiring, HR teams need to consider a candidate’s ability to work independently while remote—and integrate questions into the interview process accordingly. And in addition to preparing new interview questions, HR teams also need to be prepared to answer new questions from candidates around things like remote onboarding, COVID-19 safety measures, future flexibility and DE&I efforts. 3. Keep Empathy in The Online Interview Even though remote work is becoming more comfortable for companies and employees alike, that doesn’t mean the human aspect of work—and by extension, recruiting—should fade. Empathy and kindness should be a permanent fixture of the remote hiring process. HR teams must bear in mind that for many, the remote job search is still relatively new. And, while things like candidate presentation and poise are important, a dog barking in the background or an interruption from a spouse or child is still par for the course when working from home. For more reading on humanity and business leadership, check out these tips from Cornerstone’s Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer Heidi Spirgi and HR thought leader Laurie Ruettimann. Â

A Day in the Life of a Corporate Citizenship Director
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A Day in the Life of a Corporate Citizenship Director

From a law firm offering pro bono services to an organization empowering women to a small company supporting community service projects, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are quickly becoming standard business practice. According to CorporateRegister.com, companies around the world published 30 percent more CSR reports in 2014 than 2010—an increase likely driven by consumer demand. A recent Nielsen study revealed that 55 percent of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies committed to social and environmental impact. CSR programs, also referred to as “corporate citizenship" or a “triple bottom line," can create value by enhancing an organization's reputation, building trust among stakeholders, creating a better public image and increasing positive media coverage. But what makes a great CSR program tick—and where do you start? To learn more, we spoke with four passionate corporate citizenship leaders. Here they talk about their biggest challenges, important initiatives and advice for other company leaders aspiring to adopt a triple bottom line philosophy. Gina Tesla Title: Director of Corporate Citizenship at IBM How did you get involved in corporate citizenship? After a career in advertising, I volunteered for the Peace Corps—working in community economic development in Panama—before attending business school at Cornell University. I see my role in corporate citizenship as a perfect way to use those blended experiences and skills. What current initiative are you most excited about? We are building a partnership with the Peace Corps where IBMers can volunteer for short-term assignments with Peace Corps Response. This year we will have three different pilots together: Ghana, the Philippines and Mexico. We've begun the Ghana pilot with projects focused on girl's education in conjunction with the Let Girls Learn initiative. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? Get advice from people who have done this before. Many companies have joined in on projects for our Corporate Service Corpsprogram to learn, and have then have gone off on their own. Adrienne Chistolini Title: Corporate Social Responsibility Associate at Bank of America What current initiative or project are you most excited about? I'm helping to organize an annual summer program that offers funded internships to high school students in the U.S. at local non-profit organizations. The program culminates in a week-long conference in Washington, D.C. where students learn about the intersection of business, government and philanthropic organizations. What is the most challenging part of your job? There is always more that can be done in the philanthropic space. We must simply put our best effort forward knowing there is always more work to be done. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? I believe it is important for companies to observe and seriously consider the environments they work in before taking action. In order to make the greatest impact, you need to have local, on-the-ground knowledge of the communities you hope to serve and must avoid blindly channeling your resources into areas where they may not be put to the best use. Yvonne Tang Title: Director of Corporate Citizenship at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts How did you get involved in corporate citizenship? I was fortunate to be interning at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts when they were looking to develop a community involvement program. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, applied for the job and have been a part of developing our corporate citizenship programming ever since. What current initiative or project are you most excited about? The last few years, we've honed in on central areas of volunteer opportunities to engage our associates and employees—one of which is a healthy living focus. We recently started working with the Trustees of Reservations and Boston Public Market, which provide demonstrations and tasting classes on a weekly basis. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? Companies that have successful corporate citizenship programs are the ones that can align a non-profit's mission with the company's priorities and goals. Sheila Appel Title: US Regional Director of Corporate Citizenship at IBM What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) is a grades 9-14 school in Brooklyn, NY, created by IBM, the New York City Department of Education and The City University of New York. Through P-TECH, students are earning their high school diplomas and associate degrees and are first in line for jobs with their industry partners. What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job isn't "my" challenge at all, but rather the challenge our world leaders face every day. What we have is the opportunity to leverage our people and our citizenship programs to help these leaders solve the most pressing problems in their countries, states, regions and the communities where we live and work. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? For a company to embrace citizenship as a core practice, each employee must be a steward of the company's reputation as a global corporate citizen. Trust, personal responsibility and commitment to community keep a company successful. Header photo: Shutterstock

Dear ReWorker: Can I Send a Sick Employee Home?
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Dear ReWorker: Can I Send a Sick Employee Home?

Dear ReWorker, I'm sick because one of my employees came to work with symptoms, and we work in close quarters. Now I have to use my vacation time to get well. Can I require someone to go home if they come in sick to prevent illness from spreading to other workers? Sincerely, Curbing Contagion ___________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Curbing Contagion, Here is the short answer: Yes, you can require employees to go home if they come in sick. But your company has a bigger problem than the bug that's going around. Let's start with the fact that you have to use vacation time while you're sick. Vacations should be used for traveling the world, lounging around on beaches with fancy drinks or cleaning out the basement. But, you know what vacation time shouldn't be used for? The flu. Lots of organizations don't provide sick days at all, and some companies simply offer general paid time off (PTO). A PTO policy is better than nothing, but there should be designated sick days—otherwise, people often hesitate to use their PTO to cover times when they are unwell. If the PTO bucket is generous enough, it's not a problem. However, at companies with stingy PTO policies, people come to work when they shouldn't. After all, if they've already booked a flight to go see the in-laws, they can't take time off for illness without canceling those plans. Additionally, even at companies that provide sick time or adequate PTO, many people don't take sicks days because they don't want their manager to think they are slackers. Remember perfect attendance awards back in elementary school? Those were dumb back then, and they are dumb now. Contracting an illness isn't a moral failing or a sign of disengagement—it's a sign that we are human and sometimes we get sick. So, what should you do to prevent sick employees from coming into work in the first place? Establish a reasonable sick policy. Check with your state and local laws, because places like Connecticut and New York require employers to offer sick leave. Allow people to work from home (if applicable) when they are feeling under the weather. Tell employees that they should stay home if they have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. Do not punish people for staying home. You can require a doctor's note, but that places an unnecessary burden on employees, since many illnesses don't require a doctor's visit. If employees are lying about sick days, chances are they're not performing well in other areas of his job. Focus on those. It may seem expensive to allow people to take time off for illness, but one sick person can spread germs to everyone else, which will drop your overall productivity as everyone drags themselves around, trying to work while feeling terrible. We all need sick days once in a while. Sincerely, Your ReWorker Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady Photo: Creative Commons

Fitting In: How Important is Cultural Fit?
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Fitting In: How Important is Cultural Fit?

Earlier this year, Sally Fields starred in a movie called Hello, My Name is Doris as a wacky 60-something clerk working in a hip company run by millennials. Leaving aside the film's focus on Doris's unrequited crush on a younger colleague, the film provided ample evidence of the disconnect when baby boomers work among younger (read: more hip) employees. Sight gags abound: Doris unable to keep her balance on the mandated switch from office chair to stability ball; Doris learning how to use the Internet (gasp!) from her friend's granddaughter. You get the picture. As much as it made this baby boomer cringe, this film, like DeNiro's The Intern, went over the top in portraying how cool the young folks discovered their older colleagues can be. Talk about condescending. I reference movies frequently, but that's because they reflect our cultural zeitgeist, whether or not we want to admit it. And what I suspect most HR people and managers throughout the organizations don't want to admit is a level of condescension towards employees who are outside the mean with respect to age, political leaning or educational levels. My work as a job search coach and resume writer provides no end of anecdotal evidence that a lack of workplace diversity exists in America. Sure, we strive (rightly so) for diversity within ethnicity, race, religion and sexual orientation, but otherwise? Not from where I'm sitting. Tales from the trenches include Tom, whose career in global supply chain management in the medical devices industry has won his employers significant revenue growth and cost savings. Self-employed for the past 3 years, he's now looking for a job, but is worried about being middle-aged and not having completed a college degree. Quantifiable achievements will likely make the lack of degree less relevant, but his age is proving to be a factor. Consider Annette, who is staunchly conservative in her political views, which might make her a cultural fit for many red state-based companies, but she lives in largely liberal Boston. While it is generally wise to refrain from political debate in the workplace because you can be disciplined or fired, employers tend to avoid hiring people whose world view clashes with that of the majority. And then there are people whose priorities are different. I nearly got rejected for a job where I wound up working happily for 11 years because I was a 47-year old suburban mom and the people who I interviewed with were mostly in their late 20s. At 47, it wasn't age that thwarted my appeal; it was that I was going to be walking out the door in time to have family dinner, not hitting the local pub to shoot pool and down a few beers. What's the danger here? It's a question of whether everyone in a company needs to be a "cultural fit." In a Harvard Business Review article, Katie Bouton argues that “Culture fit is the glue that holds an organization together," making it a key trait to identify when hiring. She cites a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study noting that the turnover caused by poor fit can cost an organization between 50 and 60 percent of the person's annual salary. Data doesn't lie, but perhaps we need to rethink what we mean when we talk about cultural fit. Maybe it's less about “You're just like the rest of us!" and rather, “You share our corporatevalues!" Bouton recognizes this, and advocates for companies to define their organizational values, whether they be collaboration, entrepreneurial mindsets or fierce independence. But the danger, I believe, is in seeking common corporate values based on other, more personally held values. An organization's values should be unifying, not dividing. In other words, millennials and baby boomers may think differently about many issues, but they can agree that providing stellar customer service is a mutual goal. Conservatives and liberals can unite over whether or not they are comfortable working for a tobacco company. Joining the crowd after hours to socialize isn't an issue if parents and non-parents share a passion for writing the most bug-proof code. If your organization has these values, they can transcend those closely held personal convictions, and create a culture where everyone belongs. Photo: Twenty20

How to Avoid Layoffs: Cost-Cutting Strategies for Business
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How to Avoid Layoffs: Cost-Cutting Strategies for Business

The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces. +++++ According to a release from the Labor Department, the economy lost 701,000 jobs in March—a figure far more negative than anticipated, although economists said it captured only a fraction of the carnage in the labor market in the second half of the month. Right now, nearly 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment. This number is thought to be larger, but states are limited by the number of applications they can process at a time.  Most businesses were not built to survive our current climate, and many won’t. Those that have should start taking steps to prepare for future downturns in the market. And unfortunately, many of these spending cuts affect employees’ pay. This is not always the case: Some companies set aside crisis management budgets to protect workers’ compensation in these situations. But without the deep pockets of an Amazon or Facebook, most businesses will still have to make pay cuts in order to keep operating budgets at a minimum and avoid layoffs or closures. But before making changes to employees’ compensation rates, companies should consider the options: 1. Put Promotions and Raises on Hold Unless critical to your business, halt all promotions. If they are necessary from an operational continuity perspective, communicate to the promoted employee that they will experience a change of title and responsibilities, but they will not receive a salary increase until financial conditions improve. And to save immediate payroll costs, place salary adjustments and merit-based increases on hold as well. If you have pay equity adjustments deemed critical, move forward with those. For non-sales staff, halt all incentive payments immediately. Communicate these changes to your employees, explaining that to save jobs, the business must be as lean as possible—therefore, bonuses must be sacrificed. 2. Consider Executive Compensation Adjustments Similarly, businesses might want to consider reducing executive salaries by 15-25% or freezing all cash and equity bonus payments to these individuals. If your company is publicly traded and has a compensation committee—individuals from the board of directors who review and approve the compensation of executive officers—work with them to reevaluate your existing incentives and equity programs. In most cases, original 2020 projections are no longer realistic, and metrics must be revised so they align with current priorities and are sensitive to the pain being inflicted on shareholders by declining stock prices. 3. Reduce Employee Hours Right now, many employees need flexibility. With schools and day care facilities closed, working parents are trying to balance child care with job responsibilities. Others might have to care for elderly family members who are sick or at-risk. Give employees the option to reduce their hours to four days a week or go part-time for the duration of the crisis, and adjust their pay accordingly. This way, a company can save on its payroll spend while still keeping workers employed. 4. If Necessary, Furlough Employees As evidenced by the current unemployment rate in the U.S., layoffs are already underway. In certain industries like hospitality, entertainment and retail, COVID-19 has had an immediate and devastating impact on workers. Many were furloughed or laid off, but some companies have found ways to assist their dismissed workers. When hotel cancellations spiked in March, hotel chains like Hilton, Hyatt and the Marriott all withdrew their 2020 outlook statements and began laying off employees. Hilton, however, furloughed many of its staff members and then took action: The chain established partnerships with companies like Amazon, CVS and Walgreens, which are struggling to meet consumer demands during COVID-19, and expedited the hiring of their displaced workers. What is usually a two-week application cycle has been reduced to a 24-hour process. If furloughs or layoffs seem inevitable for your organization, seek out these types of partnerships. Establish direct channels to get your displaced workforce connected with any existing opportunities that will bridge a gap in employment. 5. Evaluate Your Company’s Top Performers Careful research across different jobs and industries has highlighted a clear pattern: The payoff from employing top talent increases as a function of job complexity. So for jobs that are mildly complex, top employees outperform average employees by a median margin of about 85-100%. And for highly complex jobs, such as senior leadership roles, the contribution of top performers is more than double that of the average performer. Talented employees can also act as “force multipliers” and raise the performance bar for their colleagues. Simply adding a star performer to a team boosts the effectiveness of other team members by 5-15%. Now more than ever, companies will need to locate and use their best employees. Through technology like talent management systems or via regular conversations with team leaders and managers, organizations should collect and track performance data on their workforce. So if and when a company needs to make workforce planning decisions, they know which workers to keep around to help them survive.  6. If Possible, Pay People Now With rising unemployment rates and forecasts of economic downturn, employee anxiety levels are high, and they’re turning to their employers for support and stability. If possible, use this as an opportunity to make your employees feel valued and place them ahead of profits. Pay them as you normally would and, if financially viable, offer stipends to help with any expenses incurred due to COVID-19. Do this for as long as you can—it will make your employees feel valued and boost morale. To survive this unprecedented situation, companies must be strategic, but they also must support their greatest utility—their people. Jeremy Spake is a principal of thought leadership & strategy at Cornerstone.Â

How compliance training can improve workplace culture
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How compliance training can improve workplace culture

How to Implement Design Thinking In Your Workplace
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How to Implement Design Thinking In Your Workplace

The rise of increasingly complex business systems and technology mean that today's companies need a creative workforce more than ever. To foster that creativity, many companies have turned to designers—not only to create new products and services, but also to improve their business processes and foster more innovative, happy and successful employees. It's an approach called "design thinking," and it's paying off. Each year, the Design Management Institute conducts an assessment of top design-led companies like Apple, IBM and Coca-Cola. For 2015, DMI's assessment found that these companies outperformed the S&P 500 by 211 percent. To learn more about design thinking, we spoke with Linda Naiman, founder of the Vancouver-based consulting firm Creativity at Work. Naiman has helped introduce design thinking to organizations like the US Navy, GE and Intel. Here, she explains the concept of design thinking, why leaders should bring it into the workplace and how it applies to their talent management strategy. What is design thinking? Design Thinking is a methodology used by designers to solve complex problems, and find desirable solutions. A design mindset is not problem-focused—it's solution focused and action oriented. It's a co-creative, iterative process that focuses on human values and needs through a process of questioning assumptions, collaborating, focused brainstorming and building prototypes to test ideas and get feedback. Design thinkers first try to understand the unmet needs of customers or end users before coming up with ideas to address them. The goal is to create solutions that are not only technically feasible and financially viable, but also desirable to those end users. Linda Naiman's Framework for Design Thinking Why are companies adopting this methodology? If you look at some of the top companies that use design—Apple, Coca Cola, IBM—they've outperformed in the marketplace by reinventing their core business processes to focus on their customers' needs. Design-led companies put people first, not technology. "Design led companies put people first, not technology." Design thinking minimizes the uncertainty and risk of innovation by engaging customers or users through a series of prototypes to learn, test and refine concepts; it relies on customer insights gained from real-world experiments, not just historical data or market research. This way of thinking helps these companies improve their success rates and innovation. How do you work with companies to introduce or implement design thinking? Typically, I work with executives and their teams. They come to me looking for new ways to innovate. Maybe they're in a slump and they want to kick start creativity in group. Through workshops, I help them learn methodologies to reframe, to ask better questions and collaborate better. Rather than devising specific strategies for them, I teach them the thinking skills they need to devise those strategies for themselves. How can leaders apply design thinking to talent management? The best leaders have empathy for their teams. If you're in charge of a team, you need to think about what their needs are. What barriers do you need to remove to enable them to do their best work? How can you ensure diversity of thought in your team? How can you empower your team to take action? How do you create the conditions for your people to do great work? "Innovation is not just about products and services. It can be intangible as well, like business processes or changes to a company's culture." Innovation is not just [about] products and services. It can be intangible as well, like business processes or changes to a company's culture. So, a manager and team educated in design thinking may collaborate to look at their processes and find better ways to get the job done. Once they generate ideas for solutions, they build a prototype and test it to see if their idea works. What impact can design thinking have on a company's culture? If a company adopts this methodology, the culture will change on its own thanks to the values inherent to design thinking. These values include empathy, collaboration, experimentation, exploring ambiguity, a commitment to building on each other's ideas and the idea of prototyping (which is a core element of design thinking). You must quickly mock up new ideas and test them in order to get feedback. And that means creating a safe space where people don't have to worry about being a failure—failure is part of the process. Designing the way you work will help people do things more efficiently and give them more time to do more fulfilling work. Photo: Twenty20

How to Take Your Wellness Program Messaging to the Next Level
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How to Take Your Wellness Program Messaging to the Next Level

Remember writing notes on pieces of paper, folding them into airplanes and tossing them across the classroom to the delight of a friend? As any grade schooler knows, that level of personalized messaging is incredibly powerful. And it's often missing in today's internal company communications, especially when it comes to employee wellness programs. Of course, you're now working with digital tools, not pen and paper. But it's possible—and, I'd argue, essential—to deliver personal and creative content that captures your employees' attention and inspires them to take action. Here are two ways to boost engagement with your wellness program: 1) Use an Email Campaign Tool When were you ever excited about an email that you knew was also sent out to hundreds, if not thousands, of other people? Never. So why are you still sending your employees mass emails about their wellness program? Sure, it's quick and easy, but a batch-and-blast approach typically does little to incite action. To improve results, personalize your email experience and monitor your efforts using an email marketing tool. Some, like Mailchimp or ConstantContact, offer free services and are fairly intuitive. There are multiple benefits to using an email campaign tool. For example, if you were promoting an on-site employee biometric screening event, you'd be able to create a mobile-friendly campaign, track when emails are opened and send automatic follow-up messages to recipients who haven't yet read the original message. 2) Create and Send Relevant Video Content According to a 2016 survey conducted by Whyzowl.com, 79 percent of consumers say they'd rather watch a video to learn about a product than read text on a page, up from 69 percent last year. The same preference for video content applies to wellness programs. Creating video content may seem like a daunting task, but even a novice can now be a videographer, thanks to smartphones and computer webcams. But not every message needs to be scripted and edited—in fact, a quick, impromptu video message can feel more authentic, as long as it's relevant to your audience. For example, one of our Health Coaches recently recorded a 30-second video voice-mail using her computer's webcam. She then sent it to employees via text message, which typically results in a higher response rate than an email blast. Here's the video message that was sent: Check out this other recent video we created using an iPhone 7 and video editing software by Camtasia: Some other useful video editing tools include: Soapbox by Wistia: An app that lets you use your computer's built-in camera to record, edit and send quick video messages. (And, it's free!) Go-Animate.com: A tool with an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop interface for creating engaging animated explainer videos. Check out this video we made using Go-Animate.com for a customer's 2018 open enrollment announcement: ​ Snagit: We've found that a lot of online wellness tools don't have a video library of how-to tutorials. Snagit enables you to easily create and edit your own training videos for employees to use. Still not sure how to get started? Check out Wistia for how-to guides that tackle everything you need to know about creating business videos, and breathe new life into your employee wellness program. Photo: Creative Commons

HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Building a Culture of Belonging with Lorraine Vargas Townsend
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HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Building a Culture of Belonging with Lorraine Vargas Townsend

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. Lorraine Vargas Townsend has had one mission in mind during her 20-year career in HR: to ensure everyone feels a sense of belonging and respect in the workplace. She has worked at a variety of companies, from Schneider Electric to athenahealth to Mendix and, today, she is Chief People Guru at A Cloud Guru. In our final episode of Season 3 of HR Labs, Duane sat down with Vargas Townsend to hear more about what she’s learned over the years on how to create a true culture of belonging in the workplace. Using DEI&B to Unleash People’s Potential This pursuit stems, in part, from her own experience growing up in a Texas town where she—as a Latina and as a lesbian—didn’t feel as though she belonged. As the daughter of a hard-working, single, immigrant mother, Vargas Townsend also understood from an early age how work can dramatically impact the trajectory of people’s lives and their sense of belonging. She herself only experienced a deeper sense of belonging once joining the team at A Cloud Guru. “When I joined A Cloud Guru, it was one of the first times where I had a moment of clarity about the difference of being a good culture fit versus belonging,” she told Duane in the final episode of HR Labs. “I just knew that I belonged at A Cloud Guru, because this was a place that was not only tolerating me because of my difference, but it was protecting me. It was celebrating me.” And this feeling of truly belonging, Lorraine believes, is the only way to unleash someone’s true potential at work. Why Belonging is Good for Your People and Your Business There is ample data showing that DEI&B is good for business. But before being a good business decision, DEI&B, at its core, has the ability to improve the lives of the individuals at an organization. The reality of having—or not having—a job is that people’s work is inextricably linked with people’s lives.  According to Lorraine, a person who belongs is 50% less likely to leave an organization. They’re also 56% more likely to improve their performance, 75% less likely to call in sick and 167% more likely to be a promoter of the company. “The opposite of belonging is a culture where tokenism thrives and where tolerating people wins, instead of celebrating people and helping them get to prosperity and growth,” said Lorraine. HR’s Role in Building a Culture of Belonging But HR leaders can’t successfully work toward a culture of belonging by themselves—to do so involves tearing apart every single HR process and tradition and trying to rebuild it all to be as inclusive as possible. Where do we start? In Lorraine’s opinion, this journey begins with confronting previous mistakes, moving forward and leveraging data every step of the way. Check out Lorraine and Duane’s full conversation to hear more about the value of belonging and what else Lorraine has up her sleeve (she calls it, “the most glamorous audit to ever exist”). Thanks for joining us on this season of HR Labs, where we explored strategies for seeing real impact from your DEI&B efforts. If you’re just tuning in, check out our previous episodes on unconscious bias, microaggressions, pay equity and engaging white men in DEIB strategies. We’ll be back with Season 4 later this year.Â

HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Lilly Ledbetter Discusses Pay Equity
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HR Labs, DEIB Edition: Lilly Ledbetter Discusses Pay Equity

We’re thrilled to announce the third season of HR Labs, a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all of your people. This season is hosted by Cornerstone’s Chief Learning Officer and VP of Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller and Chief Diversity Officer Duane La Bom. Through conversations with change-makers, activists, executives and experts, they’ll explore strategies for taking diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) initiatives from intention to action. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen. One of the fundamental pillars of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is fair pay in the workplace. This week on HR Labs, Jeff sits down with activist Lilly Ledbetter—a woman whose name is synonymous with the fight for pay equity—to discuss the state of employee compensation today, what needs to change and why it's important for companies and their employees. A Pay Equity Icon Lilly understands all too well the injustice of the pay gap. Her fight began 19 years into her career at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, when she discovered that she was making 40% less than her male counterparts. That moment sparked a lifelong journey of advocating for equal compensation. Lilly filed a sex discrimination case against Goodyear, which she won—and then lost on appeal. Over the next eight years, her case made it to the Supreme Court, where she lost again. In the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Inc, the Supreme Court ruled that Lilly should have filed suit within 180 days of her first unequal paycheck, despite the fact that she had no way of knowing that she was previously being paid unfairly. In 2007, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, urging Lilly to fight back. So, Lilly fought—and became the namesake of Pres. Barack Obama's first official piece of legislation as president: the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which overturned the Supreme Court’s decision and states that the 180-day time period for filing an equal-pay lawsuit resets with each new paycheck affected by discriminatory action. Still, Lilly says her work isn’t done. She continues to make visits to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers and advocate for more regulation around fair pay. “I keep getting up every day, hoping to make a difference in this because this is terribly far from justice for the American family,” she said. Equal Pay for Equal Work In addition to her work on Capitol Hill, Lilly also speaks with employees and students about salary negotiation, as well as with company leadership directly, in an effort to make meaningful change in the corporate world. Equal pay for equal work ultimately helps organizations be successful, she says. A commitment to pay equity should be part of any company’s DEIB initiative, since it’s an opportunity to turn intention into action. “Their people are their representatives,” said Lilly of companies. “The people sell their product.” Listen below to hear more about Lilly’s story and her lifelong fight for pay equity. Subscribe to HR Labs and never miss a conversation about strategies for seeing real impact from your DEI&B efforts. Tune back in on March 17th to hear Duane’s conversation with professor of sociology Don Tomascovic-Devey­ about improving diversity and inclusion efforts by better engaging white men and middle managers. Â

Mental Health Is Top Of Mind For Companies—Here’s How to Make These Efforts Last
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Mental Health Is Top Of Mind For Companies—Here’s How to Make These Efforts Last

Within the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns over a potential mental health crisis started to emerge. Enforced quarantines and the massive, sudden shift to remote work left many employees feeling anxious, lonely and depressed. In fact, since the outbreak of the pandemic, 75% of people say they feel more socially isolated, while 67% of people report higher stress levels. Over half (57%) are feeling greater anxiety. In response, some companies have taken actionable steps to support their employees’ mental health. Back in April, Starbucks announced it would offer employees and their family members 20 free counseling sessions a year. Similarly, PwC introduced well-being coaching sessions for all of its employees. While these types of efforts are necessary in light of the current situation, they do not fully address the underlying issue: The continued stigmatization of mental health conditions in the workplace. A 2019 survey of 1,500 employees found that less than half of respondents believed their company prioritized mental health. Further, a majority of respondents also reported that they were afraid to talk about mental health in the workplace for fear of being judged for it. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its resulting economic downturn, have negatively affected many people’s mental health and exacerbated people’s existing mental illnesses. This makes it more important than ever for companies to break the stigma around mental health in the workplace and implement long-term, effective solutions for addressing these issues. Companies should focus on getting better at talking about mental health at work, reexamining their employee benefits programs and encouraging employees to use available mental health services. Talking About Mental Health at Work One of the biggest shortcomings in employers’ mental health efforts is being ill-equipped—or simply reluctant—to address these issues. Only about 25% of managers in the U.S. have been trained in referring employees to mental health resources. But this is a necessary skill for managers to develop. Many mental illnesses can impede a person’s ability to function properly, let alone perform at work. Depression, for example, can cause an employees’ productivity to drop. This is all-too-common in the workplace—in fact, $17-$44 billion in revenue is lost annually due to depression. To better address mental health problems at work, employers need to be sure that their employees feel comfortable talking about these issues. And to do that, there has to be trust—especially between managers and their direct reports. Facilitating regular check-ins between employees and managers can help, but in those meetings, encourage managers to practice vulnerability. When managers describe their personal challenges, whether related to mental health or not, it makes them appear more human and relatable—and employees will feel comfortable doing the same. Invest in Better Services A shocking number of employees still feel as though there is a lack of mental health coverage at their company, and rightfully so: Only 13% of companies provide on-site stress-management programs and just 11% offer mindfulness or meditation benefits, according to a recent study from SHRM. However, a majority of companies today do offer employee-assistance programs (EAPs), which typically provide employees with immediate phone access to a counselor, a limited number of free sessions with a mental health care professional and therapist referrals. But the utilization of these programs is low, averaging below 10%. This is due in part to a lack of communication about the availability of these services—and because these programs typically offer the bare minimum in terms of usable mental health benefits and options for support. EAPs don’t require a lot of effort or money from companies, which is why so many prefer to use them. Most are relatively inexpensive, costing between 75 cents and $1.50 per member per month, regardless of how often staff uses them. Companies need to invest in EAP programs that offer better, more effective treatments. For example, in addition to an EAP’s existing offerings, employers should consider providing onsite counseling services and online programs that use cognitive behavioral therapy to treat patients. There are also other services, such as Psyched In Residence, that businesses can use to bring qualified, accredited and experienced psychotherapists in the workplace—without people needing to specifically ask for it. These days, practitioners can also deliver their professional and emotional therapeutic services in-person or virtually. Reiterating Available Benefits Now—And Later Thankfully, experts predict that a majority of employers that added, or made changes to, their mental health resources in response to COVID-19 will likely keep them long-term. But providing resources is not enough. In order to convince employees that their mental health is important to a company now and into the future, action must come from the top down. If serious about normalizing mental health at work, companies should place CEOs at the center of their mental health initiatives. Most companies do not have a single owner for all their mental health initiatives—instead, they allow many departments, like HR and learning and development, to play different but simultaneous roles in managing them. But without a proprietary leader for these programs, it’s harder to create accountability. CEOs can act as the “normalizer-in-chief.” They can oversee all of a company’s mental health initiatives, hold different departments accountable to them and lead more conversations about mental health and the role it plays in the workplace. By making it clear at a company-wide meeting that they understand the importance of removing the stigma around these conditions at work, a CEO sends a message to the rest of their organization that they are serious about creating workplace culture that’s understanding and prioritizing of mental illnesses—while focusing on eliminating associated stigmas. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a lot of underlying workplace issues—addressing and providing resources for mental health chief among them. But to effectively address these issues, thoughtful changes must be made to how often a company talks about mental health and how it invests executive time and money in supporting these initiatives. For more information on how to support employees’ mental health during this difficult time and into the future, check out this recent article from Cornerstone’s EVP of Learning and Organizational Effectiveness Jeff Miller.

The time is now: Building stronger and more inclusive workplaces
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The time is now: Building stronger and more inclusive workplaces

We are in a potentially transformative moment. Stepping up to meet this moment and create positive change—in our organizations, our communities, or even within ourselves—requires listening, learning, and, at times, unlearning. We need to unlearn corrosive behavior, unlearn defensive responses that hinder honest dialogue, and unlearn our biases. View this webinar for a candid panel discussion about the critical challenges and opportunities in front of organizations as they re-think diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Cornerstones Chief Talent Officer, Kimberly Cassady, will be joined by Minda Harts, author of The Memo: What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table, and Dr. Sondra Thiederman, one of the nations leading experts on unconscious bias. The panel of experts will discuss: - Building a more equitable and inclusive workplace, including providing meaningful opportunity to BIPOC - Understanding how unconscious bias can undercut your organizations goals - Tips and tools for unlearning those biases - Why “allyship” can be the wrong focus

Webinar: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Talent Management
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Webinar: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Talent Management

As movements like MeToo, Time’s Up, and Black Lives Matter highlight social inequality in the workplace and outside of it, leaders in business are in a position to reexamine their own organizations’ practices. An uptick in job postings for roles in the diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) space shows that organizations are responding to what’s happening in the world and operationalizing it at their own organizations. But every organization is at its own unique starting point—and it can be difficult to know how to begin or move forward. In an effort to help organizations shape their paths, our team at Cornerstone recently hosted a webinar, “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in Talent Management,” during which we shared recommendations for making improvements to DE&I in the workplace. To start, fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging involves working to mitigate areas of unconscious or implicit bias in recruiting, performance management, learning and development and compensation. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. And wherever our starting place is today, our end goal should be the same: to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace. Here’s how we begin together. Understand the Facets of Identity For diversity, equity and inclusion to exist, biases must be identified and eliminated. Perhaps the most commonly considered areas of potential bias are race, gender, and sexual orientation—but identity is expansive. We have to remember that people are complex. Not only do we all have multiple facets of our identities, but our interactions with those around us also shape how we view and interact with the world. Intersectionality, therefore, is a crucial concept to understand. In her work, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color” Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw explains it well. She writes that no individual has a singular identity—no one is simply a white man or Black woman or lesbian or straight—but rather a composite of various facets of identity. Facets of identity include: age, national origin, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, gender, education, work role/experience, personality, customs, geographic location, functional discipline, languages used, values, communication style, work style, learning style, economic status, family situation, military experience, philosophical perspective. When any of these identities are left out in representation or treated differently, there’s potential for bias, discrimation and other issues. But having representation across various identity intersections creates diversity and ensures a healthy, inclusive workplace. Rewrite Job Descriptions To Encourage Diverse Applicants Once you’ve understood and identified the importance of mulit-faceted identities, it’s time to diversify your talent pool and broaden the scope of candidates. That requires examining your existing job descriptions closely: Does each description reflect the actual day-to-day responsibilities of the person in that position? Are there unnecessary “requirements” listed that may prove a barrier to candidates who will be able to do the job, and well? Rank responsibilities in order of what is done the most, and think about any unnecessary requirements in the job description, removing them. And consider this: A white man will likely apply for a job even if he does not meet every listed qualification, while women and people of color often shy away from job descriptions that list qualifications they do not have. Remove implicit barriers—in language and requirements—to encourage a more diverse candidate pool to apply. For example: if a job description includes the phrase, “masters degree preferred,” but a masters degree is not required for someone to perform the role adequately, consider removing it. If you don’t really truly need a masters degree to do the role, you may be inadvertently excluding groups of potential candidates. Try using tools like Textio and Gender Decoder to identify and remove implicit barriers in language; and, expand search efforts by finding targeted job boards and connecting with affinity groups like Out in Tech, AfroTech and Techqueria. Recruiting Is Only the First Step For Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Efforts to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging may start with recruiting a diverse pool of candidates, but should not stop there. Incorporate DE&I practices into career development, especially in the areas of succession planning, internal talent mobility systems, training and development opportunities, and performance management. Ensure evaluations do not include subtle biases, and train managers to recognize and mitigate bias. The best way to mitigate bias is through continuous performance management. Collect as much data as possible—not from a single manager, but from teammates or individuals working with an employee on a project—to be used for performance assessment. Work to evaluate employees fairly, and offer the right access to training opportunities, mentors and sponsorship. Data-driven decision-making can overrule bias. And, finally, be sure to set up pay equity task forces to look at disparities in pay. All of these efforts combined can lead to more engaged and productive employees. Overwhelmingly, data tells us that a diverse, equitable, inclusive environment translates directly to more engaged employees, which research tells us translates directly to more productive employees. At the end of the day, this translates to greater customer satisfaction, higher revenues, and increased sustainability for organizations. DE&I isn’t just the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, it’s good for business. For more insights, access the full webinar, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Talent Management” here.Â

Webinar Recap: The Art and Science of the Virtual Classroom
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Webinar Recap: The Art and Science of the Virtual Classroom

We’ve all heard it before: “Can’t we just…?” Because setting up a virtual training session from a previous instructor led session seems intuitive and simple, stakeholders typically have high hopes for its success. They might ask: “Can’t we just put together some slides? Can’t we just set up a training session for next week?” In reality, however, hosting a virtual training session requires a great deal of work. As part of a partnership between Cornerstone and the Training Officers Consortium (TOC), Cornerstone is delivering a series of informative sessions designed to provide tactical and practical tips for transforming the ILT to the virtual classroom. Earlier this month, Melissa Chambers, director of online instruction at MSC Consulting, and Chris King, Learning Provocateur at CEEK, LLC, joined me in a a webinar on the difference between delivering training in person and online, sharing key tips for designing the training and choosing the right tools. But as anyone who has ever hosted an online event knows, planning the content is just the first part of the process. “In theory, it all sounds simple, but if you’re not prepared, you can fail miserably, and that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths,” Chambers said. As a follow-up to their highly successful session, Chambers and King reconvened to share insights on the other part of hosting an online training: execution, which includes logistics and facilitation. Below are their recommendations for carrying out a successful online training session. Develop a Virtual Event Roadmap The first logistical step to hosting an online training event is to develop a virtual event roadmap that lays out the execution of the event step-by step to set expectations internally. The initial phase includes identifying the presenter, topic and date as well as writing the session description, drafting slides, creating a session room, sending invites and scheduling preparation sessions. After that, the presenter should take time to prepare an immersion audio test, develop materials, prep test files, add questions, plan interactions, test everything and post any handouts that participants will need during the session. And, as part of the last phase of the roadmap, the organizer needs to rehearse and, on the day itself, log in early to test audio, welcome participants and ultimately host the training session. Designate Producer and Presenter Roles Though the presenter plays a central role in creating and executing the training session, there’s another key figure that can determine whether a presentation is a success: the producer. There’s a lot to facilitate during an online session, and the presenter has to focus on delivering content rather than handling any technology challenges that arise. That’s where the producer comes in. For example, the producer can help troubleshoot malfunctioning technologies in the background or answer questions that arise from participants in the chat. “It’s multitasking in a way you’ve never had to before. You have to handle live features. The biggest thing people miss is that there’s a lot to manage,” Chambers said. And, when something doesn’t go as expected, it falls on the producer to fix it without the attendees becoming aware of the issues. Make the Most of Available Technology There’s more to an online training session than a set of slides. Today, there are lots of different tools available, like live polling, video within the presentation, web browser sharing and even breakout rooms for separate, smaller discussions—it’s up to the design team to determine the best way to apply these tools to create an engaging and interactive session. With web browser sharing, for instance, the presenter can launch a website that participants can then navigate individually, which is good for creating scavenger hunts for reference materials. In this option, the participant, rather than the facilitator, controls where they go, yielding a more independent experience. Set Up Participants for Success The sessions are designed to help participants absorb training, so putting their experience first is key, Chambers and King said. That involves not only setting them up with preparation materials, but also having a plan B ready for when things go wrong. Before the session, the organizer must communicate the requirements for the event (both technological and contextual), confirm that learners have read any prerequisite materials and give detailed instructions. Because participants won’t all be in the same room, it’s important to “provide more information than you normally would have,” King said. “The goal is to make the technology fade into the background.” Other Best Practices Online sessions may be the only way that educators can deliver training for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean that they need to sacrifice the quality of the learning experience. To ensure the best possible outcome, “modulate and project your voice; give clear, succinct instructions and repeat them; keep your tone ‘conversational’; and mute your mic when not speaking,” King recommended. As for things to avoid, make sure you don’t read from the screen, use too many filler words (um, uh, etc) or apologize for any failures of the technology. Don’t be afraid of the silence, King said, but don’t be afraid of any side conversation (in the chat) between participants either. “Side conversations are one of the best indicators of engagement,” he said. And for the biggest question on everyone’s mind, no, you don’t always have to use video, King and Chambers agreed. While there are some advantages to that face-to-face interaction, in the current state of things, it can be downright exhausting. Learning should be a positive experience, and if video adds unnecessary anxiety, there’s just no need for it.  To view the full session on demand, click here.

What Does It Mean to Create a 'Culture of Failure'?
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What Does It Mean to Create a 'Culture of Failure'?

In my last post, I discussed the importance of failure in company culture. In order for people to take risks and push the envelope, they need to have a certain level of comfort with defeat. In other words, you don't only need to walk before you run to succeed—you also need to be okay with stumbling every once in a while. But what does this "culture of failure" look like, and how is it achieved? Embracing failure isn't about patting people on the back when they miss the mark—at its core, a culture of failure is about feedback that helps you make the mark next time. If you want to progress as an individual or as a company, you need to be willing to identify your weaknesses and maximize your strengths. However, even the most self-aware people are limited in their ability to identify these strengths and weaknesses on their own. They need help—and, based on my experience, they want help. If you look at recent research on the millennial generation—which, in many ways, I believe strongly reflects the desires of every generation—you'll find that almost everything points back to the desire for growth and development, for continuous feedback. Most people are craving conversations that push them to the next level. The question is, how do you get there? Build Structured Communication Creating a culture of failure comes down to communication—communication between employees and managers, between managers and VPs, between VPs and the C-suite. As director of talent management at Cornerstone, I've focused a lot of my time and energy on fostering the type of communication that leads to a company and workforce not only open to risk-taking, but prone to it. At Cornerstone, we train managers to provide their employees with "stretch projects." The key to these projects' success, however, doesn't lie in giving the assignment—it lies in the conversations that occur before and afterwards. Prior to the project, the manager asks the employee, "What's your likelihood for success? What's your expected failure rate? What are your obstacles?" After the project, the manager debriefs with the employee to identify successes and failures on both ends: "What were the unforeseen obstacles? Was the task as clearly communicated as possible? Were the challenges identified individual blocks, or systemic blocks? And if they were systemic blocks, who should have gotten on your side?" Teach People to Ask For Feedback With structured communication, employees will begin to feel more comfortable taking on stretch assignments. First, because they know the goal isn't success—it's growth. And second, because when they fail—and, usually, they are bound to "fail" in some sense—they will have a deep understanding of how to succeed the next time around. The second benefit of structured communication—and another step toward fostering a workforce comfortable with failure—is that it will teach people to be comfortable with feedback. When most people ask for "feedback" today, I've found that what they truly expect is congratulations. Why? It's not that they don't want to improve—it's just that they aren't used to hearing constructive criticism, and are therefore unsure of how to handle it. Structured communication familiarizes both employees and managers with receiving and providing tough feedback. After a few stretch assignments, employees will learn to be their own best advocates and managers will learn how to truly coach their employees. Instead of asking, "How did that go?" employees will learn to ask, "How could that have gone better?" And instead of a nonchalant "Good job!" managers will be able to provide both congratulations and criticism. Prioritize Growth Last but not least, it's not enough to simply encourage employees and managers to communicate or discuss feedback. It needs to be a formal part of your culture, embodied by your values. Because as I've learned during my career, there are two truths about culture: 1) Culture can be made and 2) Whether you consciously make it or not, culture will happen. If you aren't mindful and strategic about integrating failure into your company culture—through formal communication, trainings and leadership by example—you won't realize the eventual success that comes from risk-taking. It is critical to prioritize manager feedback, employee reviews, and general stretch assignments. As a CLO or CHRO, you can beat the drum of "failure is a good thing" all you want—but unless you formalize this belief, and immerse your workforce from the start in a company that encourages feedback and growth, you won't see a true cultural shift. An excuse I hear all too often is, "I want to give feedback—it's just that I'm too busy." The hard truth is that at the end of the day, your employees are the only thing you should always have time for. If you're too busy for them, then you're failing to invest in the future of your personal career, team and company. Like all good things, this is easier said than done—but as I've learned throughout my career, your biggest failures will take you farther than any small success. Photo: Creative Commons

Why the Key to DEI Initiatives is Data
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Why the Key to DEI Initiatives is Data

Since June, there’s been a renewed urgency in corporate America to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. And recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Solange Charas. She is the founder and CEO of HC Moneyball, a data scientist and HR compensation consultant on a mission to ensure equity doesn’t become just another buzzword in business. Including the word "moneyball" in her company’s title is no accident. After Michael Lewis's best-selling book, moneyball became a metaphor for using KPIs in business—from budgeting and data analytics to productivity. But today, DE&I aren’t actually in the KPIs of most organizations. That’s even true for HR: According to a recent study, only 7% of businesses in the U.S. set representation hiring targets for gender and race, and these are only part of the DE&I story. Paraphrasing the father of modern management Peter Drucker, “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Luckily, more companies are coming around to the need for DE&I measurement: Fifty-six companies and organizations recently joined the groundbreaking Gender and Diversity KPI Alliance (GDKA) to support the adoption and use of a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure gender and diversity in their companies and organizations. It’s a small step that indicates CEOs realize genuine diversity and inclusion will require more than meeting EEO guidelines and checking off boxes. Quantifying equity can be uncomfortable, exposing unspoken truths previously accepted in company cultures. But measuring behaviors, good or bad, is necessary, and brings us closer to real change. Matching DEI Commitments to Real KPIs According to Dr. Charas, to truly create the fairness that equity implies, companies first need to locate and measure their current inequities. These KPIs can be used to locate and address pay inequities, for example. In 2009, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act attempted to close gender pay gaps, But in 2019, ten years after its enactment, women in America were still paid only 81 cents for every dollar made by men. For women of color, it’s only 75 cents. But pay inequity is just the tip of the iceberg. By studying the impact of common metrics—both financial (productivity, ROI) and operating (attrition, retention, diversity, training effectiveness), Charas has quantified the efficiency impact of these metrics on bottom-line performance. Her analysis revealed inefficiencies and inequalities in areas beyond pay. If we’re going to finally “fix” equity and lead fairly, then we need to start quantifying and evaluating the efficiency of equity in our organizations in other areas—like the following. Recruitment and Attrition Equity It’s well documented that interviews are not only inherently biased but inaccurate at predicting job success. And yet, they are often the only assessment tool used to hire new employees. How can you be sure all your candidates were screened and selected fairly if you’re not measuring it? Ensuring that 13% of the candidates are Black and 18% are Hispanic or Latino won’t create equity. Instead, here are some questions to consider when formulating your recruitment metrics: Are your job offers presented equitably to all minority groups and what is the acceptance rate for these demographics? Does the distribution of candidates reflect the diversity of your community or region? Do candidates selected for interviews reflect the diversity of your community or region? Do the candidates that are extended a job offer reflect the diversity of your community or region? Are the candidates that accept job offers reflective of your community or region? Is this diversity reflected in all roles or is it skewed when comparing front-line to management? Many organizations measure hiring equity because they are required to do so, but what about workers who leave? Do people of color, ethnicity, and gender quit at the same rates as white workers? You also need to start monitoring employees who leave as diligently as you track those who enter. Training and Mobility Equity Companies have to be able to prove that all employees, no matter their ethnic or gender categories, are given equal opportunities. Develop training methods that consider the following questions: Can you verify that each group participates and completes the training at the same rate? If no, why or why not? Are all genders, ethnicities, and races represented in leadership training and not just front-line training? What is your training dollar investment per each category? Is it distributed equally by gender and color? And equally important is looking at what happens after after training: Are all ethnic and gender categories given the same opportunities for mobility and advancement? Are managers favoring younger or older workers? Say your company finds that 10% of its Black employees were promoted over the last 5 years—the same rate as your white population. That’s great, but don’t stop here. Dig a little deeper: You might find white males got promoted within 12 to 24 months of training but Black males take 60 months or more. And missing from the data was the fact that women of color quit or were terminated before being offered any new opportunity. Don’t stop after discovering a single equity disparity; keep digging until you have unearthed the whole truth. Velocity Equity This one is my favorite. Think: step stool vs escalator. While men in feminized workplaces experience a ‘glass escalator’ and are quickly promoted into supervisory positions, women in male-dominated positions tend to get a smaller boost—a glass step stool. Ask yourself: Do each EEO, gender and ethnic category experience privilege, advancement and even attrition at the same pace? Equity isn’t just about whether or not you’re offering promotional opportunities or lateral opportunities or training opportunities. It’s whether or not you’re offering all races, genders and ethnic groups a step stool or an escalator. DEI is Everyone’s Job Equity can’t be explained away by rhetoric—it’s about the numbers. Whether or not you believe equity is framed and defined by ownership or diversity, it is quantifiable. By now, many of you might be thinking: quantifying equity takes a lot of time, money and resources. And that’s not my job or department. But let me make this perfectly clear: Fairness and justice is everyone’s job. It also doesn’t take a data scientist and AI to get started. It can be simple. Let me share the advice of Victor Assad, CEO of Victor Assad Strategic HR Consulting: “Just start. The data is just sitting there. Most companies just need to look at it. You don’t need advanced technology or the skills of Bill Gates. All you need to do is start—collect the data and use a simple spreadsheet. The rest will follow.” Ignorance is not bliss: Quantifying equity must be top of mind in the C-Suite and HR. Looking to support your company’s DE&I program with better tools, courses or technologies? Click here to explore Cornerstone Cares, an online library of free learning resources with courses on everything from managing remote teams to mitigating unconscious bias at work.Â

The Power of Workplace Empathy
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The Power of Workplace Empathy

As an HR leader, if your goal is to nurture organizational empathy, then you have to make empathy a conscious part of your day-to-day. Unfortunately, many leaders and HR leaders struggle with how to exhibit empathy and build an empathetic organizational culture. Watch our On-Demand webinar to get tips and advice on how to build, nurture, and grow organizational empathy from the top down. Speaker Heidi Spirgi is the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer for Cornerstone. She brings over 20 years of experience helping organizations unleash the power of their workforce by reimagining their approach to talent management. Watch the webinar now!

Why Company Culture Can’t — and Shouldn’t — Be Taught: Q&A with Cris Wildermuth
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Why Company Culture Can’t — and Shouldn’t — Be Taught: Q&A with Cris Wildermuth

From performing day-to-day tasks to building the internal relationships necessary to thrive, new hires always have a lot to learn. Since adapting to new company culture is part of that equation, should companies actually teach corporate culture? They can't unless they know what the culture is, says Cris Wildermuth, assistant professor of leadership development at Drake University. We spoke with Wildermuth to find out why understanding culture is the first step and how employees can turn a blind eye to certain parts of company culture. Can employees be taught corporate culture? Part of the difficulty of teaching culture is you have to become aware of the culture in the first place. So much of culture is hidden even to the people who hold that culture. There’s so much of our culture that we don’t know that we know. We’ve learned over time because when we did something, someone frowned at us or we received punishment of some sort, but we aren’t necessarily learning it consciously. When I talk about culture, I use the iceberg metaphor — people are talking about things that are on the surface of the iceberg, but not everything that’s underneath. You could be saying things like, "Around here we have a strong work ethic. We arrive early and leave late." But you may not say, "Around here you’re supposed to speak the truth unless you’re talking to a higher-up in which case you lie like crazy." I highly doubt anyone would want to teach that even if it’s true. The point is, the culture that we wish we had is the one that we teach rather than the one we actually have. How can companies implement a version Company Culture 101 for new hires? For starters, people need to have conversations about what culture means. In the workplace, learning and development professionals can organize workshops around what culture means and then employees could be sent out to identify elements of the culture that matter. When you analyze culture you also look at other things, like hard numbers — who’s being promoted? What are desirable characteristics of employees? What questions are being asked in interviews? An organization might want to have people from the outside help because there are some things that are so obvious that we don’t see them ourselves. Some people say company culture can’t be taught and needs to be learned through experience. What’s your response to that? Those that are saying it can’t be taught would probably agree that it cannot be taught because you don’t know what you should be teaching in the first place, and even if you did know you would probably not want to tell the truth. The problem with teaching culture is you’re adding a vector of "should" to it. You’re not only saying this is how things are around here, but also this is the way things should be around here. Therefore if you’re going to be successful, this is what you should do. Is the culture that you have right now the culture that will really help take your organization to the next level, that will help you adapt to new environmental conditions? If it isn’t, then you could be hurting your chances of seeing changes in culture. That’s another problem: Should we only hire people who fit in? Well it’s likely that people who fit in will be happier, but the other side of that coin is, what if the misfits are the ones who carry the seeds of greatness? Photo credit: Can stock

Why Employment Brand Is About the Candidates — Not the Company
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Why Employment Brand Is About the Candidates — Not the Company

Recruiting is becoming increasingly integrated with marketing, and some even predict that recruiting will eventually become a marketing role. As much as companies focus on the consumer-facing brand, they're dedicating more attention and energy to their employment brand. This means recruiters need to have a new mindset along with a new set of tools in their repertoire, writes Matt Charney on Human Capitalist. Charney pinpoints three fundamentals for navigating the changing landscape of recruitment marketing. Employees Shape Employment Branding In the past, companies shaped how prospective candidates and in-house employees viewed the brand with help from outside agencies, notes Charney. Today, as much as employers try to guide the conversation around employment branding, it's time to face the reality: employees and candidates have the microphone. Charney adds: "People are talking about your brand, whether you like it or not. That means ditching the generic smiling stock photos and platitudes about people being your greatest asset on your career site and actually developing a brand that shows what it is really like to work at your organization — warts and all." Leads Aren't Just About Inbound — They're Outbound Too While recruiting top talent is important, being able to retain those employees is just as important. HR managers are steering their focus to inbound and outbound leads. "Success at recruiting, like marketing, has become incumbent not only to being able to create a pipeline of the right leads, but also the ability to nurture them," writes Charney. To address this shift, CRM and applicant tracking systems are integrating inbound and outbound leads into their technology. Recruiting is a Two-Way Channel Talent networks are great for notifying candidates about company news and nurturing leads — but it's not as easy as just creating a network and checking it off the list. The glaring reality is that many companies don't even have talent networks even though there's a use case. Three in four candidates would join a talent network, yet only 19 percent of companies actually have one, according to a recent poll by Talemetry. Once a talent network is in place, companies need to provide added value for candidates, notes Charney. "That means not only blasting job postings, but also sharing information and insights on your company, the hiring process, and general job search best practices which create not only more engaged leads, but better — and more viable — candidates." Read more at Human Capitalist. Photo credit: Can Stock

3 Signs Your Company Culture Isn’t as Inclusive as it Could Be
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3 Signs Your Company Culture Isn’t as Inclusive as it Could Be

Surprisingly, Merriam-Webster Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year wasn't "selfie" or "twerking." Rather, it was something with a little more gravitas: "culture." And the choice speaks, in part, to a growing understanding among businesses that creating a strong, inclusive company culture will be a priority in 2015. But making a "Best Places to Work" list is only part of the equation. Vivek Wadhwa, a tech entrepreneur and academic who has researched and written extensively about diversity in Silicon Valley, cautions that a company's leadership and HR policies send strong messages to prospective and current employees — and those messages may not match the company's intent. Here are three signs your company’s culture isn’t as inclusive as it can be: 1) Your Board Members All Look Alike. Take a look at your top ranks and ask yourself if that group reflects the kind of talent you want to attract. If your company claims to value diversity and different ways of thinking, but the board and executive team is homogeneous — whether it's all middle-aged businessmen or five engineers in plaid shirts and identical hoodies— it sends the message that diversity isn’t actually a top priority, argues Wadhwa. Wadhwa points specifically to the lack of women on many tech company boards. "They say that there’s not enough women graduating with the right background to be on these boards," Wadhwa says. "But if you look at the boards, you see guys with English degrees, French literature degrees — they’re clearly not all programmers. There’s plenty of room for women." 2) Your Paid Leave and Flextime Policies Are Lackluster. Today's jobseekers are actively looking for companies that meet them halfway when it comes to achieving a healthy work-life balance. It’s easy to play up fun perks like free lunches and dog-friendly offices, but harder — and more important — to create truly flexible and family-friendly policies. Failing to do so is a not-so-subtle way of saying that the company’s needs trump those of its employees. Currently, 12 percent of employees in the U.S. have access to paid family leave, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. But offering a generous paid leave for parents benefits everyone: Women who take advantage of paid leave are more likely to return to work and work more hours, according to a recent New York Times report. Offering paid paternity leave — an even rarer perk for U.S. workers — also gives your company a competitive edge when attracting strong talent. "Gen Y men rated day-to-day flexibility even higher than Gen Y women," Karyn Twaronyte, a partner at professional services firm Ernst & Young, told NPR. "They would be more likely to leave a company if day-to-day flexibility was not offered. I don't know that we would have seen that 10 years ago in the workplace." 3) You're More Focused on a Skills Gap than Internal Culture. An inclusive workplace starts from within, says Wadhwa, pointing to the tech industry's myopic focus on teaching more women and minorities to code. "Anyone can learn how to code," he says, "but the real question is do they want to? Many don’t, because the environment is such a boy’s club. It’s not welcoming to anyone else." Instead of focusing exclusively on jobseekers, Wadhwa says companies should consistently make women and minorities visible examples of success. (If most of your company's administrative or support roles are filled by women, for example, it subtly sends the message that there's a glass ceiling.) Wadhwa points to Y Combinator, a start-up accelerator based in Mountain View, as an organization that’s "gone out of [its] way to try and fundamentally fix the diversity problem." The company regularly invites female founders to speak at events and encourages startups to establish progressive HR infrastructure from the onset, among other tactics. "Companies need to stop blaming the talent pipeline and deflecting from their own lack of diversity," Wadhwa says. "The most proactive businesses are looking inside themselves and making changes internally."

Why You Need a New Strategy for Retaining Female Talent
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Why You Need a New Strategy for Retaining Female Talent

There are big changes coming to American companies. While many business leaders look to the economy for trends and forecasts — closely following any promising signs as we recover from the 2008 crisis — there's another change brewing right under their noses. And it doesn't take knowledge of the stock market to understand. The change is a massive shift in workplace demographics. Four shifts, in fact: Women are leaving the corporate world; nearly half of Americans will be retiring from the workforce in the next decade; minorities are now the majority; and freelancing is the new 9-to-5. Is your organization prepared for the shifts to come? Developing successful organizational strategies is hard enough, but if you develop a strategy without understanding workforce demographics, you're shooting in the dark. This is the first post in a series exploring each demographic trend. Here, a closer look into the first of four: How will the changing gender dynamics of corporate America impact the workforce, and what can you do to prepare? Women Are Becoming Your Competition After years of bumping their heads on glass ceilings, women have had enough of the corporate world. In fact, studies show that more than half of women who start out in Fortune 500s leave before they reach the executive level. Women who leave large companies often join upstart competitors or become new competitors by launching their own businesses. As of 2010, there were more than 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S, and women-owned firms were growing at twice the rate of all other groups. Why are women leaving? In 2012, women held 14.3 percent of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, yet were paid only three-quarters of what their male colleagues earned. The wage gap does not reflect a skills or needs gap: Today, young women are just as likely as men to hold a bachelor's degree, 50 percent more likely to have a graduate degree and more than 40 percent are their families' main breadwinners. So, why does this matter? Gender Diversity Improves Performance One reason your organization should pay attention to gender demographics at work is purely economical. Two recent high-profile studies have found that having even just one woman on a company's board correlates with significantly better performance. Credit Suisse evaluated more than 2,400 global corporations over eight years and found that large-cap companies with at least one woman on their boards outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards by 26 percent. Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with women on their boards had significantly higher returns on equity (53 percent), better sales (42 percent), and a two-thirds greater ROI than companies with all-male boards. Female leadership is not a "nice-to-have." It's a must-have for companies to survive and thrive. Organizations that understand the value of diversity need to step up to the plate if they want to attract and retain women. Here, three tips for creating a structure for gender parity success at your company: How to Retain Female Talent 1. Start a formal mentoring program. People tend to network and develop mentorships with people of their own gender. If men have more opportunity for leadership roles and they network with other men, men will continue to dominate leadership roles. Women, who have mentors with less clout and are sponsored significantly less than men, need access to mentors and sponsors of both genders. 2. Institute flexible work arrangements. Fear of negative career consequences, manager skepticism, excessive workload and a "face time" culture are among the barriers that prevent employees from adopting flexible work arrangements. Set standards for both genders and give managers the training they need to be comfortable managing flextime workers. This removes the barrier for women who are the primary caretakers in their family of children or elderly relatives, which is a significant amount, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It reports women do 54 percent more of childcare than men, and 50 percent of elder-care. 3. Function as a results-only work environment (ROWE), and create formal compensation policies with clear criteria. ROWE-type policies can help with turnover caused by work-life conflict, one of which is family burdens. The traditional solution to work-life challenges is the decision to have women stay home. This reinforces gender inequality, and subtly disadvantages women, particularly mothers. Judging women by the quality of their work rather than whether or not they are physically present can increase retention. When it comes to attracting and retaining women, good intentions aren't enough. You need an action plan to prepare for the future of work, and you need one now. Stay tuned for the next post in this series about how to thrive amid shifting workplace demographics. Photo: Shutterstock

Managing Merger Mania: Don’t Skimp on Employee Engagement
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Managing Merger Mania: Don’t Skimp on Employee Engagement

It’s human nature to fear and resist change, at least initially. And few experiences invoke more stress or uncertainty than a workplace merger or acquisition. No matter how rosy corporate’s official line might be, a merger is among the most stressful situations that employees face. Disinformation, rumors and fear of the unknown can affect even the most highly engaged employees. These factors are toxic to company culture and are a lousy way to kick off any new corporate marriage. Managing the Uncertainty Calm, grounded managers can help temper the turmoil during the uncertainty of a merger, but it’s not an easy task. These are trying times for managers, too, who likely have their hands full preparing for the unknown. But it’s a great opportunity for managers to assert their leadership and to help make the deal a success. The odds are stacked against success. Most research finds that about 70 percent of mergers and acquisitions fail, with cultural differences playing a significant role. A 2009 McKinsey & Company study on post-merger integration found that an overwhelming 92 percent of employees interviewed following a merger said the process would have benefitted from more cultural understanding in the early stages. "In a culture clash, the companies’ fundamental ways of working are so different and so easily misinterpreted that people feel frustrated and anxious, leading to demoralization and defections," write Dale Stafford and Laura Miles, partners with analyst firm Bain & Company. "Productivity flags, and no one seems to know how to fix it." Keep Calm and Carry On Managers play a crucial role in trying to beat the dismal odds. The first step is to maintain morale and employee engagement in the face of uncertainty. An AON Hewitt study on employee engagement during times of corporate change highlights employee engagement’s important role during the preparation stage. During a merger event that will significantly impact a person’s job, the percentage of highly engaged employees is cut in half, according to the study. The percentage of highly disengaged employees, meanwhile, jumps significantly. Disengaged employees can’t be turned overnight, so an ongoing focus on engagement is crucial. Lend an Ear Employees can feel a complete lack of control over their careers during a merger. Even the simple act of listening to employee’s concerns can go a long way toward giving them a semblance of power. When Atlanta technology entrepreneurs Aaron Hillegass and Charles Brian Quinn decided to merge their companies, they knew it wouldn’t be simple. The process affected employees from both companies, many of whom resisted changes such as a switch from hourly to salary compensation. "We thought they’d be excited, but they weren’t," Hillegass tells Inc. "They found it scary to have their compensation changed in addition to the merger." To assuage those fears, Hillegass’ new business partner, Quinn, sat down with employees to talk through concerns and changes they wanted to make. By listening and giving employees a sense of ownership, the new company avoided defections. Culture Matters It’s never easy to combine two companies with distinct cultures. With so many financial and operational issues to resolve, business leaders often foolishly overlook the role talent management plays in the success — or failure — of the deal. A Bain & Company survey of executives found that cultural differences are the top reason that mergers and acquisitions fail. But technology tools can play a big role to help leaders squash culture problems before they undermine a deal. The study suggests that leaders rely on technology to take an audit of the culture at both companies, identify differences — no matter how subtle — and develop a plan to integrate the cultures. Employee participation throughout the process is crucial. Photo: Creative Commons

4 Facts About Biometric Screenings You Need to Know
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4 Facts About Biometric Screenings You Need to Know

As a wellness professional, I often receive questions from clients about why their employees' biometric screening results differ from what they received from their doctor or from the previous screening vendor. While there are a few factors that can create a variance, I wanted to do a little more digging—after all, the popularity of biometric screenings is continuing to skyrocket, and I think it's always better to have a clear understanding of what our clients are investing in. But first, what's a biometric screening—and why are they so popular? The rise of workplace wellness programs has also sparked an increase in on-site physicals to provide a better benchmark for employers when it comes to investing in their workforce's health. A basic screening measures physical characteristic such as height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure and aerobic fitness. According to the Willis 2014 Health & Productivity Survey, 74 percent of US employers include a biometric screening as part of their workplace wellness programs. If you're currently providing screenings, or considering it, here's what you need to know about the accuracy of the process, and how labs analyze biometric screenings: 1) No two labs will have identical test results Lab variance occurs when two or more labs receive the same blood sample, but end up with different results. In this event, technically each of the test results are correct. How is that possible? Well, according to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), laboratories are allowed a +/- 20 percent variance between other labs (which we'll dive more into next). Lab variance happens because the testing methods differ from lab to lab—each lab has different preliminary testing controls, different machines and obviously, different technicians working. When just these three variables are introduced into the testing process, the results are subject to minor changes. This is why your physician will send blood samples to the same laboratory, instead of multiple labs—the percentages for accuracy and precision aren't the same for every lab. How does this impact your employees' screenings? If you plan on switching screening vendors, inform your employees about it upfront. Otherwise, they may be blindsided by a potential swing in their health numbers without understanding why. 2) Labs are allowed a 20 percent variance The below image illustrates how variance works using real data from our lab partners over at Bayshore Clinical Laboratories. Nearly 5,000 labs completed a required audit on their equipment and testing method, which was then plotted as a whole to determine the mean. The goal for any lab is to be closest to the average, which determines the most accurate result. For total cholesterol, Bayshore was nearly spot on at 158.9, where the mean was 163. 3) Labs go through rigorous testing and quality control audits While results can vary, labs are still held to strict standards to ensure this variance doesn't impact your employee's healthcare provisions. According to Ken Jaglinski, laboratory director at Bayshore, labs base their work on two things: precision and accuracy. Precision means that across multiple tests, they must hit the same result consistently. Accuracy means that if there is an expected result, they must hit that result as closely as possible (like getting a bullseye, or as close to it as possible multiple times). How do labs ensure precision and accuracy? First, they run preliminary tests on every machine to make sure they are current. Next, each test sample is monitored through test validation and plotted on a quality control chart to compare to other labs testing the same characteristics. The below target represents an actual plot of Bayshore's results for a single test to preserve their own accuracy. Lastly, each lab participates in state-regulated testing to ensure as much consistency as possible. What does this mean for you? When picking labs to work with, ask to see their latest validation test, so you can compare their results to other labs. 4) Results from portal analyzers are not usable for clinical diagnosis If you want your employees to use their test results from your company's biometric screening event, then make sure your screening vendor is sending the blood samples to a CLIA certified laboratory. The problem with CLIA-waived or non-certified testing is that the results aren't diagnosable, so your employees' doctors may end up re-ordering the same lab tests for them. Dry blood spot cards are the best of both worlds: They use finger stick testing (the least invasive method) while still being analyzed in a lab (also the most accurate). Have any other questions about how biometrics screenings work for workplace wellness programs? Get in touch at benjamin@kadalyst.com. Header photo: Shutterstock

7 Reasons Employee Sabbaticals Are a Winning Idea
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7 Reasons Employee Sabbaticals Are a Winning Idea

As employees put more emphasis on work-life balance, companies are catering to their needs by offering concierge services, massage therapists and in-office gyms. While these company perks make the workday less stressful, they don’t truly acknowledge the need for employees to escape from the office and their work life. That’s where the employee sabbatical comes in. These work hiatuses are great for employees and companies — employees have an extended amount of time to relax and rejuvenate, so when they return to work, they are ready to dive in with new ideas. Yet only 4 percent of U.S. companies offer a paid sabbatical program and 16 percent offer an unpaid sabbatical program, according to the Society of Human Resource Management. Most company sabbatical programs offer employees who have been with the company for a certain number of years a month-long vacation. Healthcare tech company Epic Systems extends that offer by covering the costs for an employee to travel to a new country, but it’s only company-paid if it’s a never-traveled-to-before destination, according to Business Insider. Benefits of Sabbatical Programs It’s understandable that companies are hesitant to implement a sabbatical program, paid or unpaid, since employees are valuable resources, but companies with sabbaticals reap the benefits of such perks. 1. Employees return rejuvenated and often feel like they have a new job. After working the same job day in and day out, employees often experience burnout and don’t feel encouraged or motivated to go to work. An extended vacation is the perfect way for employees to recharge and come back to work with renewed focus. "They are giving us the opportunity to have some reflection time and rejuvenate," said Kelley Kirker, a concierge employee at email marketing company Emma. "There is a unique exhale when you have a month off." 2. Employees find inspiration for new ways to grow the business. When a MeetUp software engineer returned from his sabbatical in Berlin, he wasn’t excited to be back in Silicon Valley and instead wanted to move to Berlin, a sprawling city for tech talent. MeetUp proposed that he open a software engineering office in Berlin to capitalize on the great engineering talent and expand to a new city. 3. Employees can focus on personal goals. During the busy work week, personal goals to start a new boot camp, learn a new language or volunteer at the local soup kitchen can fall to the wayside because work takes priority. "While on the sabbatical, the employee has an opportunity to rediscover old interests and friends, explore new ideas, travel, get fit, do retirement pre-planning or a special project, take care of family needs, and much more," says Nancy Bearg, co-author of "Reboot Your Life: Energizing Your Career and Life by Taking Break." She says, "It broadens perspective and makes personal and professional priorities clearer." 4. Younger employees have the opportunity to grow in their roles. When more experienced employees take a sabbatical, the rest of the team has to pitch in to do the work that the manager usually handles. This provides a great chance for younger employees to take on new job tasks and expand their skill sets. "While the employee is away, management and employees must step in, cross train, fill in, and find new ways to cooperate," she says. "All of this builds greater depth and experience and flexibility." 5. Employees are encouraged to stay with the company. Many young employees jump from one job to the next, often spending as little as one or two years with a company. Sabbaticals that are rewarded based on time with the company encourage employees to remain loyal to a company for an extended amount of time. 6. Companies show they care about what employees want and need. Employees want to work for a company that understands the balance between work and life, and the younger generation is demanding that their personal lives continue, whether personal and work life are mixed or kept separate. "In older generations, you did everything you had to do for your company at the expense of your family," said Steve Hayes, founder of recruiting firm The Human Capital Group. "Younger generations realize there is a balance we need to draw." 7. Companies experience reduced employee turnover. When Clif Bar asked its employees what perks they valued, sabbaticals ranked at the top, and partially as a result of offering time off to 7-year employees, the company has less than 3 percent turnover, according to Huffington Post. While companies may resist the idea of sabbaticals, they provide great benefits to employees and companies. In a workplace where employees are at the center and must be valued or else they’ll leave, companies must be innovative with how they’re attracting and retaining talent.

Want Engaged Employees? You Need Values First
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Want Engaged Employees? You Need Values First

Employee engagement may be the latest HR buzzword, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it as a fad. With only 13 percent of employees engaged at work around the world, the majority of employers have a lot of room to improve — and positively impact the bottom line while they're at it. A recent report from Dale Carnegie found that companies in the United States with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent. Similarly, according to Gallup, organizations with high engagement levels also report 22 percent higher productivity. Of course, there's no lack of advice on how to join this club of highly engaged and high performing organizations, but I think any engagement effort comes down to a crucial foundation: your values. As a company leader, in HR or at the executive level, strong personal values allow you to guide the organization in a positive and genuine direction. And when your organization demonstrates strong values, then you will begin to naturally attract and hire employees who share and aspire to the same values. Building a culture of purpose and engaging employees still takes significant time and strategy, but finding the right kind of people to work at your organization is a crucial part of starting this journey. How to Define Your Values If "values" seem like a vague concept to you, let me put it this way: What defines you at your core? It's not an easy question to answer — and it shouldn't be. Over the years, I've found that this five-step exercise can provide an inspirational start: 1) Identify a peak moment in your life Can you recall a moment where your life couldn't get any better? When everything felt aligned? It may have even felt like the best day of your life. Now, describe this peak moment in detail. If you are working on this exercise alone, write the description. If you are doing this with someone, talk about this moment for 2-3 minutes while the other person takes notes. For example, one of my peak moments was taking leaders on Safaris for the Soul in Africa. I loved watching the leaders grow during the two-week program and hearing the wildlife sounds. 2) Discuss the values exemplified in this moment Why do you remember this moment so clearly and fondly? Think about why it stands out to you as a defining experience in your life: Was it the place? People? Activity? There were three things that contributed most profoundly to my peak moment: being outdoors, working with people to develop their potential and being adventurous. 3) Pick the most important value out of your list Remember that your values apply to both your personal and professional worlds — pick one value from your list that you think is particularly important to you in any context. For example, I would choose "adventurous." 4) Define what the chosen value or values mean to you Why did you choose this value out of all of the ones you listed? In what other ways have you displayed or followed this value in your life? This should be a personal description — so don't worry about creating a "dictionary" definition that could work for everyone. In my mind, for example, "adventurous" means choosing an unconventional path, trying lots of new things, going to new places, exploring options and tinkering with ideas to find solutions. 5) Choose a value name that resonates with YOU Your value doesn't necessarily have to be one word — it could be two words, or a short phrase. Think of what name exemplifies your value. It could be the original word you wrote on the list, or a brand new one. Most people would simply call the value I identified "adventurous." However, the word adventurous doesn't resonate with me — instead, the name "wind in your face" is much more memorable. After walking through these five steps and coming to a clear value, go back to step one using the same or different peak moments until you've identified five or so core values. Putting Your Values to Practice As a leader, it's especially important that you exemplify these values in the workplace and use them to guide your business decisions. You need to walk the talk. Before you make an important decision, review your list of values and consider how your potential courses of action align with each of your values on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not aligned at all). When you're done, you want at least an average of 7 — less than that likely means the course you're considering will not only lead you astray, but your company as well. By integrating your personal values into all aspects of business, you will begin to direct the company in a more thoughtful manner and encourage your colleagues to do the same. I also highly recommend working through the values exercise with your leadership team, even if you've already done it alone. By helping each member of the team find his or her individual values, you will move toward remedying the colossal lack of engagement in today's workforce. Photo: Shutterstock

A Day in the Life of a Corporate Citizenship Director
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A Day in the Life of a Corporate Citizenship Director

From a law firm offering pro bono services to an organization empowering women to a small company supporting community service projects, corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are quickly becoming standard business practice. According to CorporateRegister.com, companies around the world published 30 percent more CSR reports in 2014 than 2010—an increase likely driven by consumer demand. A recent Nielsen study revealed that 55 percent of global online consumers are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies committed to social and environmental impact. CSR programs, also referred to as "corporate citizenship" or a "triple bottom line," can create value by enhancing an organization's reputation, building trust among stakeholders, creating a better public image and increasing positive media coverage. But what makes a great CSR program tick—and where do you start? To learn more, we spoke with four passionate corporate citizenship leaders. Here they talk about their biggest challenges, important initiatives and advice for other company leaders aspiring to adopt a triple bottom line philosophy. Gina Tesla Title: Director of Corporate Citizenship at IBM How did you get involved in corporate citizenship? After a career in advertising, I volunteered for the Peace Corps—working in community economic development in Panama—before attending business school at Cornell University. I see my role in corporate citizenship as a perfect way to use those blended experiences and skills. What current initiative are you most excited about? We are building a partnership with the Peace Corps where IBMers can volunteer for short-term assignments with Peace Corps Response. This year we will have three different pilots together: Ghana, the Philippines and Mexico. We've begun the Ghana pilot with projects focused on girl's education in conjunction with the Let Girls Learn initiative. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? Get advice from people who have done this before. Many companies have joined in on projects for our Corporate Service Corpsprogram to learn, and have then have gone off on their own. Adrienne Chistolini Title: Corporate Social Responsibility Associate at Bank of America What current initiative or project are you most excited about? I'm helping to organize an annual summer program that offers funded internships to high school students in the U.S. at local non-profit organizations. The program culminates in a week-long conference in Washington, D.C. where students learn about the intersection of business, government and philanthropic organizations. What is the most challenging part of your job? There is always more that can be done in the philanthropic space. We must simply put our best effort forward knowing there is always more work to be done. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? I believe it is important for companies to observe and seriously consider the environments they work in before taking action. In order to make the greatest impact, you need to have local, on-the-ground knowledge of the communities you hope to serve and must avoid blindly channeling your resources into areas where they may not be put to the best use. Yvonne Tang Title: Director of Corporate Citizenship at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts How did you get involved in corporate citizenship? I was fortunate to be interning at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts when they were looking to develop a community involvement program. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, applied for the job and have been a part of developing our corporate citizenship programming ever since. What current initiative or project are you most excited about? The last few years, we've honed in on central areas of volunteer opportunities to engage our associates and employees—one of which is a healthy living focus. We recently started working with the Trustees of Reservations and Boston Public Market, which provide demonstrations and tasting classes on a weekly basis. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? Companies that have successful corporate citizenship programs are the ones that can align a non-profit's mission with the company's priorities and goals. Sheila Appel Title: US Regional Director of Corporate Citizenship at IBM What current initiative or past project are you most excited about? Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) is a grades 9-14 school in Brooklyn, NY, created by IBM, the New York City Department of Education and The City University of New York. Through P-TECH, students are earning their high school diplomas and associate degrees and are first in line for jobs with their industry partners. What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job isn't "my" challenge at all, but rather the challenge our world leaders face every day. What we have is the opportunity to leverage our people and our citizenship programs to help these leaders solve the most pressing problems in their countries, states, regions and the communities where we live and work. What qualities make for a successful CSR program? For a company to embrace citizenship as a core practice, each employee must be a steward of the company's reputation as a global corporate citizen. Trust, personal responsibility and commitment to community keep a company successful. Header photo: Shutterstock

3 Ways to Create a Flexible Learning Culture
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3 Ways to Create a Flexible Learning Culture

The modern career is no longer defined by a vertical ascension of titles. Today, we rarely see a resume with a gradual move from "Junior Sales Associate" to "VP of Sales" over a ten-year period in the same industry. Instead, people move from one industry to another, and one department to the next, gathering a variety of skills and diverse knowledge as they grow. The career "ladder" has essentially become a career "chutes and ladders"—where there are multiple paths to success, and opportunities around every corner. The new definition of careers means employees have new learning and development expectations from their employers. While people desire more independence at work, they also crave more personalization. Sure, people want to carve their own path—but they also want mentorship and guidance along the way. Here are three ways HR leaders can meet these dual needs, and create a workplace culture that is both flexible and supportive. Offer 24/7 Access to Resources People working across different departments and schedules make it difficult to meet everyone's interests and availability. Instead of offering infrequent, mandatory training sessions, develop a learning hub that covers multiple topics and can be accessed 24/7 on multiple platforms. Consistent access to resources enables employees to learn on their own terms and test out different interests—for example, a sales associate might be interested in taking a marketing class, or vice versa. Learning and development opportunities should always be readily available to those who want them. At Cornerstone, our learning management system is pre-loaded with content from our content partners like TED, Skillsoft and Harvard Business Publishing. In addition to covering a variety of skills and interests, the content is available in different formats—from a 2-hour course from Harvard on management to a 2-minute video on how to give a great presentation. Everything online is mobile-ready, and we also offer in-person learning sessions. Provide Ongoing Feedback Recently, there has been substantial backlash against the annual review in favor of ongoing feedback. In my opinion, both forms of performance evaluations can be valuable—learning isn't measured by whenyou give feedback, but by how people feel about reviews. A true learning culture is an environment where people feel comfortable about asking for feedback and receiving it at any time. An annual review is only harmful if it's a surprise—and it should never be a surprise. People should always have an understanding of where they stand, and the review should be an opportunity to spend a couple hours reflecting more deeply on where they stand now, and where they want to go. A motto we use at Cornerstone is "Always be developing." We recently rolled out a course for employees on situational leadership, which encourages employee-led feedback. We're trying to teach people to be proactive about performance conversations, so we can identify their career goals and help them get there earlier. Align Employee Goals with Organizational Needs After defining an employee's goals through feedback sessions, focus on how those goals align with your organization's needs. Career paths need to support both vertical and horizontal movement, and matching an employee's goals with organizational gaps will allow you to identify unique opportunities for him or her across the company. In addition, aligning these goals and gaps will help your employees understand how they are making a difference in your company. The complexity of today's career paths also means people are shying away from simply defining goals by "core competencies," or a defined set of skills. At Cornerstone, goals are defined by three things: knowledge, behavior and attitude. This triumvirate is our guiding light when we evaluate employee performance, when we ask employees about their aspirations and when we think about new opportunities for our employees. We want our employees to know that we support their personal and professional growth. With the notion of a career becoming more and more fluid, it's crucial for organizations to see individuals as partners in learning and development. Learning is about empowering people to reach their full potential—and subsequently, empowering your organization to do the same. Photo: Creative Commons

3 Ways to Make Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Stick
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3 Ways to Make Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Stick

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is no longer about filling a quota. Today, D&I is recognized as a key way to boost profits and increase innovation. It simply makes business sense. McKinsey's 2015 Diversity Matters report revealed a strong correlation between diversity and financial performance. According to the findings, companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity are 35 percent more likely to perform above the industry median compared to those in the bottom quartile, while gender-heterogeneous companies outperform by 15 percent. And, in the U.S., every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity among senior executives leads to a 0.8 percent increase in EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes). Top of the Priority List Given this potential to impact business, it's not surprising that CEOs are taking notice. The 2017 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey found that the number of executives citing diversity as a top priority had jumped by 32 percent since 2014. This is crucial because although HR plays a key role in implementing D&I changes, long term success requires a cultural and strategic shift. Like any company-wide push, prioritizing diversity means securing senior buy-in, pinpointing clear objectives, setting targets and measuring results. But in addition to jumping through standard management hoops, there are some specific ways to build successful D&I programs: Banish Brain Bias While overt bias against individuals or groups is generally easy to spot, people are sometimes unaware of their own unconscious bias, for example, unwittingly hiring people who are like themselves. While educating people about unconscious bias and helping them identify it is an obvious first step, it's not enough. To overcome bias, organizations must move away from what psychologists call System 1 thinking, where decisions are emotional, instinctive, subconscious and based on gut feelings. Instead, what's required is System 2 thinking, which is rational, deliberate, rules-based and takes more work. From a recruitment standpoint, this means having a structured format for interviews during which all candidates are asked similar questions, followed by a an analysis process. Turn to Technology To influence change, organizations need to be able assess where they are today and measure results. Earlier in November, for example, Apple shared an update on its efforts with the release of its Diversity and Inclusion Report, which revealed that between July 2016 and July 2017, half of all new hires at the company were from "historically underrepresented groups in tech." People analytics are a vital tool for spotting these types of improvements, as well as identifying problem areas. By analyzing data throughout the recruitment process, organizations can identify where people are underrepresented, and plug those holes with new hires. The same principle holds true for all areas of talent management—analytics can uncover patterns in gender or racial bias in performance reviews, compensation and rewards. Lead From the Front A diverse organization calls for leaders who are not only from diverse groups themselves, but who are also serious about creating a culture of inclusivity at work. Deloitte identified six traits that epitomize inclusive leaders: courage, cognizance of bias, curiosity, cultural intelligence, collaboration and commitment. Still, it's up to HR to recognize and foster these traits. It's important to recognize that diversity encompasses differences in cognitive and emotional make-up as well as race, color, sex and sexuality. When it comes to nurturing future leaders, today's leaders need to resist looking for carbon-copies of themselves. For example, leaders need to be self-aware of their own work style, and accept that they need to collaborate with people that work differently to create a better team. While D&I is increasingly getting acknowledged as a good business practice, even those making it a strategic priority have a long way to go. The key is ensuring that D&I becomes a standard part of leadership development, and is seen as a core leadership skill. Photo: Creative Commons

4 Ways to Create an LGBT Friendly Workplace
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4 Ways to Create an LGBT Friendly Workplace

Approximately four percent of the United States workforce identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to a 2016 research survey by UCLA's Williams Institute. While this number may seem small, note that a reported 50 percent of LGBT workers choose not to disclose their sexual orientation at work out of fear they might miss out on promotions, be discriminated against or treated differently. When it comes to workplace diversity, this fear of self-identification poses real challenges for company leadership. While inclusive policies have improved, corporate America still has a long way to go. In 2002, only 13 employers earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which rates workplaces on LGBT equality; in this year's report, 517 out of 5,228 major brands received a perfect CEI score. Supporting and attracting diverse employees has a strong business case, too. A recent report from research and marketing consultancy Out Now, "LGBT Diversity: Show Me The Business Case," found that the US economy could save $9 billion annually if organizations were effective at implementing diversity and inclusion policies for LGBT staff. Here are four things your company can do to ensure that all employees feel comfortable, respected and included in your company culture and workforce community. 1) Standardize Parental Leave Policies Parenting is hard no matter how it happens. Companies that have more than 50 employees are required to offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave as part of the Family Medical Leave Act, but other companies are going far beyond that. Netflix and other Silicon Valley heavyweights have begun offering unlimited parental leave for all of their employees. A policy like this makes a statement that a company values all employees, regardless of their role as a parent. This leads to increased employee retention and more support for employees during one of the most stressful family transitions of their lives. 2) Encourage Internal LGBT Networking and Communities One of the most important and often overlooked pieces to the employee retention puzzle is friendship and mentorship among colleagues, peers and team members not just in a department, but across the organization. Companies should help foster and encourage an internal LGBT network community within their organization. While this seems small, it is important, especially when you consider that 23 percent of LGBT workers surveyed said they believe they were discriminated against at their workplace. 3) Create a Strong Culture of Inclusiveness It's not enough just to write a press release or a corporate email notice proclaiming an organization's commitment to inclusiveness. You need to walk the talk by providing extensive employee leadership training in this area. Employee policies should be updated, revised or created to reflect the new focus within the organization. This change requires more than adding a 20-minute video into your new hire orientation. The message that you are an inclusive company and will not tolerate negativity or harassment at work needs to be reinforced everywhere—from the break room to leader meetings and employee conversations. 4) Support LGBT Issues in the Community Employers who truly want to make a difference and be inclusive—not just within their organization but also in the communities they serve—should begin supporting local LGBT events and issues. This could be as simple as encouraging team members to march in the local Gay Pride Parade, or taking a stand on a local law or ordinance that might impact their LGBT employees. The key to providing great benefits to any employee population starts with understanding the wants, needs and expectations of your employee population and how those intersect with your employee culture. With any company culture, it's important that a foundation is built on respect, admiration and a commitment to inclusion for all team members. Diversity helps foster creativity, growth and innovation, so investing in diversity means investing in the future of your business. Photo: Creative Commons

4 Ways HR Analytics Can Improve Workplace Diversity
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4 Ways HR Analytics Can Improve Workplace Diversity

The U.S. has always been known as a melting pot; diversity is its strong suit. However, when it comes to corporate America, diversity has historically been lacking. Although 92 percent of U.S. population growth is attributed to ethnic groups and 36 percent of the workforce is comprised of people of color, only 21 minorities (that's right—21, not 21 percent) are Fortune 500 CEOs. Fortunately, this norm is changing as more minorities are becoming key consumers, clients and leaders in the workforce. In the next 10 to 30 years, census data says that there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States. Projections also say that by 2020, minorities will make up 40 percent of the civilian labor force. It's time for HR leaders to embrace the changing demographics—and thus, usher in a new era of innovation. The Business Case for Diversity Plain and simple, a diverse talent pool leads to diverse ideas. There are multiple studies showing that diversity improves organizational bottom lines: McKinsey quarterly reported that between 2008 and 2010, companies with more diverse teams were top financial performers, and according to a study by Lu Hong and Scott E. Page, groups of diverse problem solvers outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers. However, after years of trying to promote diversity by eliminating bias and discrimination in the workplace by legal means, it still exists. So, what can HR leaders do to combat ongoing bias? Eliminating Workforce Discrimination with Big Data Using big data for HR (predictive analytics, talent analytics, HR analytics and human capital analytics) may be the solution to cutting out discrimination and bias while fully embracing the demographic shift. HR analytics is not simply about raw data; it's about what insights that raw data can provide to answer questions relevant to your staff. While HR analytics may look to the past for information, its main function is to shine a light on current behavior and predict future behavior. Here are four questions HR analytics can potentially answer to help organizations move past discrimination and bias: 1) What variables influence our compensation structure? Without in-memory technology, all HR data—turnover rates, salaries, employee demographics, lists of available positions, etc.—was stored on different disks in a database. If you wanted to compare salaries to turnover rates and gender, you'd need to first locate the data, then retrieve the data from different disks before you even begin analyzing; the whole process could take weeks. In-memory analytics speeds up the process with faster, cheaper and more powerful memory chips that can be put in the server's memory rather than the database. That means complex data can be controlled and manipulated almost in real-time. For example, when deciding on performance bonuses, HR can quickly run a report detailing the twenty-year history of performance bonuses compared to years worked, department revenue, revenue by location, gender and male:female ratio. Patterns of bias in the past can be easily identified, prompting bonus structures based on solid data. 2) Who's likely to resign? Organizations can use predictive analytics to determine future behavior as well, such as identifying employees at risk for resigning. Recruiting diverse talent is one thing, but if your minority talent has a high voluntary turnover rate, you haven't done much to improve the diversity of your workforce. Predictive analytics can look at specific populations to determine who is likely to resign, and HR can use that information to create initiatives to improve the work experience of those populations. 3) Will a candidate feel welcome at your company? Using data can also help companies identify the core values and behavioral traits of candidates—and vice versa. For example, survey company Saberr uses algorithms to compile, process and compare fundamental values, behavioral compatibility and diversity to predict the potential strength of interpersonal relationships between certain applicants and potential employers. They do this with a survey for both the applicant and the employer that moves past skills and credentials, thereby bypassing initial bias in the hiring process. 4) Do we really need to address this issue? Perhaps the most impactful use of HR analytics is presenting data visually to easily demonstrate an issue and influence decision-makers. Data can be presented in graphic and statistical reports that are easy for leaders to understand—and take action on. For example, let's say 45 percent of your job candidates are people of color, yet only 3 percent of the hires are minorities. If leadership just isn't seeing the big picture when you explain it verbally, presenting the hard facts in a way that is straightforward, easy to understand and irrefutable may be the only way to enact change. Examples like these give us just a glimpse at the potential of big data to enhance the effectiveness of HR leaders. However, data is not the solution in and of itself—you need to ask the right questions. Minority candidates have been employed within a culture of systemic discrimination from the start, which often influences their work history. Simply taking names off of a resume and evaluating candidates by job title and education will only perpetuate the problem. HR professionals need to be careful to keep the human in human resources. If the right questions are asked, data-driven decision-making will prove to be a powerful ally to HR professionals working to reflect our country's rich culture diversity in the U.S. workforce. Photo: Shutterstock

5 Components of a Continuous Learning Culture
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5 Components of a Continuous Learning Culture

In Peter Senge's book "The Fifth Discipline", he outlines the idea of a learning organization. The concept is that a company facilitating learning for its employees is then constantly transforming itself. What's the benefit of becoming a learning organization? Remaining competitive in today's ever-changing business environment. During Saba's Insight conference last year, one of the speakers expanded on Senge's work and presented the learning organization in a unique way that stuck with me. Instead of saying that we need to become a learning organization, the speaker said we need to become a continuous learning organization. The keyword here being continuous. I like the sound of that! A new mindset Moving to a continuous learning organization involves a bit of a mindset shift, specifically when it comes to "learning." If you Google the word learning, it's "the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study or being taught." By contrast, the definition of training is "the action of teaching a person a particular skill or behavior." Becoming a continuous learning organization isn't about training, it's about learning. And learning is about creating an environment where employees can acquire knowledge or skills through experience, study or training. If learning were a mathematic equation, it might look something like this: Learning = Exposure + Experience The question becomes, "How can organizations build a continuous learning culture?" I'm glad you asked. Here are five key elements: Strive for a common organizational vision. Companies need to share their vision in employment branding, orientation and onboarding, as well as throughout the employee life cycle. Employees need to see how their work helps the organization achieve its vision. Linking our daily work to the organizational vision is powerful. Not only will it help to retain employees who connect with the company's vision but, realistically speaking, it will help employees who no longer connect to opt out. Create an open opportunity culture. Organizations need to make sure that employees enjoy continuous opportunities to learn. And that employees don't have to wait an unreasonable amount of time for those opportunities. In today's candidate-driven talent market, employees aren't going to wait for months and years for opportunities. Nor should organizations want them to. The better employees are, the better the company can be. Promote personal mastery. This ties into 2 above. When it comes to continuous learning, personal mastery expands so any employee can attend any type of training. Why limit leadership training to manager-level and above? Every single employee would benefit from the content. On the flip side, why not encourage a new manager to shadow their employees so they can see a true "day in the life"? It could be a huge benefit for everyone involved. Develop content-rich communication. In 3 (personal mastery), we mentioned content. All of the content that employees receive should be "content-rich" in terms of value, authenticity and accessibility. This doesn't just apply to internal memos, emails and 1:1 meetings . The marker "content-rich" should apply to all forms of communication including performance reviews as well as formal and informal training and development programs. Share internal and external best practices. Please notice this doesn't say "duplicate" best practices. That's not the point. Best practices provide inspiration. They can be used to start conversations, solicit feedback and develop content (see 4). Sometimes to step into becoming a continuous learning organization, we need to examine what others are doing and ask ourselves, "Could we make something like that work for us?" The learning pyramid When these five key elements are brought together, it builds a pyramid that filters down to employees. We're often used to seeing pyramids flowing upward, however, in this case, the goal is clear. A continuous learning organization needs employees to survive. The company's values define their vision, which drives senior management and the goals they set. Employees work on those goals. If organizations want to remain competitive, they need to learn how to create a continuous learning culture. Senior management must support the five key elements for success. The organization needs to make employee learning a priority, not just with words but with time and monetary investment. And lastly, the effort must be supported at every level of the organization. Continuous learning isn't something that entry-level employees should check off as part of an onboarding activity. For it to succeed, it must be a process that is ingrained into the company culture. Start today to become a continuous learning organization.

Are Health Analytics the Future of Wellness Programs?
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Are Health Analytics the Future of Wellness Programs?

Today's wellness programs still heavily rely on viewing historical data, which forces you to design your health and wellbeing plans by looking through the proverbial rearview mirror. In a time where the focus is on “prevention," this method means we may already be too late. What if you could look outward through the windshield and see what's ahead, avoid accidents and become the most efficient drivers on this journey to employee health? More importantly, what if possessing such “powers" was the difference between saving a colleague's life and losing someone? What Are Health Analytics? Artificial intelligence (AI) has found its way into the healthcare industry, and for good reason. Healthcare providers need technology to help them make better decisions regarding patient care. That's where health analytics plays a vital role, analyzing medical and pharmacy claims, biometric screening data, as well as other sources that provide a level of influence and confidence in the decision making process. Data scientists have developed sophisticated algorithms, that can now predict within a 95 percent accuracy if someone will visit the Emergency Room within the next 12-months, as well as forecast future healthcare cost drivers. Such tools are now being made available outside "the clinic" and into the hands of employers, health plans, insurance brokers and wellness providers. Image courtesy of MEDAi - Based on an independent study by Milliman An independent study across 100 employers, totaling 176,000 employees, set out to determine the accuracy of one such AI too, MedAi. The blue dots represents the predicted healthcare costs and the overlaying pink dots reflect the actual costs incurred. This study demonstrated the accuracy of the forecasting tool to be within a 95 percent certainty. Think on that for a second. Can you imagine if you knew that Susan in Human Resources was likely going to have a major health event within the next year that would put her in the Emergency Room? Though HIPAA prevents you from knowing this about Susan directly, your health coaching vendor could, potentially, save her life. Pretty amazing, right? What Can You Do With Health Analytics? What if you could filter the data on your organization by location, demographics and health condition? You might instantly see that your facility in Wichita, KS has a prevalence of high cholesterol among your male population over age 40, costing you a forecasted amount of $150,000. Plus, 5 percent of those identified will likely be in the Emergency Room within the next year, and 20 percent of them don't currently have a Primary Care Physician (PCP). What could you do armed with this kind of information? The correct answer: a lot! Image courtesy of Springbuk.com, displaying data filter capabilities that react instantly on the dashboard. Tools like Springbuk allow you to create a focused cohort, so you can monitor groups over time to see if care gaps are being closed and forecasted costs are decreasing. For example, you could send out mailers to all your male workers about the importance of having a PCP and showcase 3-4 providers in-network within 5-miles of the facility. Your Health Coaching vendor could provide outreach to these employees to discuss ways of decreasing their cholesterol, and your Disease Management vendor could assist in closing care gaps. (And if you don't have vendors, you now have the data to inform your leadership that you need them!) Health analytics are the future of employee health management, and today's wellness leaders know that in order to make a sustainable impact on employee health—and healthcare costs—they need to be armed with smart intelligence. Header Photo: Twenty20

Cartoon Coffee Break: Finding a Work-Life Balance
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Finding a Work-Life Balance

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Is finding a work-life balance aspirational or impossible? We asked company leaders to share their insight. Header photo: Creative Commons

Cartoon Coffee Break: At-Home Office Spaces
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Cartoon Coffee Break: At-Home Office Spaces

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. Across the country, employees are adapting to the work-from-home lifestyle. Most are adjusting to new work schedules and virtual meetings; meanwhile, working parents are finding ways to balance child care with job responsibilities. Some workers might even begin to prefer these conditions, but it’s hard not to miss some aspects of going into an office—namely, the physical perks of your company’s workspace. When working from home, most employees must go without the typical furnishings of a physical office, like extra computer monitors, lamps, snack bars and ergonomic chairs. In fact, some might not even have a desk or a quiet space to work from at all. As nationwide social distancing continues, some workers are getting creative and redesigning their homes or apartments to work as offices, too.Â

Cartoon Coffee Break: Team Bonding
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Team Bonding

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Header Photo: Creative Commons

Cartoon Coffee Break: Wellness Programs
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Wellness Programs

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Header photo:Creative Commons

Cartoon Coffee Break: Video Call Fatigue
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Video Call Fatigue

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon.  With shelter-in-place and social distancing measures still in effect for most of the United States, companies and teams are still working remotely. While some are thoroughly enjoying this at-home work experience, others are exhausted by it. More specifically, some are experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” a new term that describes the draining effect of video conference calls. Why do they wear us out so easily? It’s due, in part, to how video calls force us to behave: For example, employees have to engage in long stretches of direct eye contact and see each other’s faces up close. Remote work is causing us to interact with casual acquaintances, coworkers and even strangers in ways that are typically reserved for close relationships. What’s more, video conferences require workers to focus more intently on conversations (which can be exhausting) and can even make it more difficult to communicate, since picking up on social cues or body language is challenging—if not impossible. As remote work continues, workplaces will have to keep looking for signs of Zoom fatigue and actively trying to prevent it. To do this, companies should encourage employees to take breaks after every video call, avoid multitasking, and wherever possible, replace them with phone calls or email updates. For more ways to promote genuine connection during remote work, read tips from Cornerstone Head of Content Engagement Rae Feshbach here.

Cartoon Coffee Break: Working and Learning From Home
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Working and Learning From Home

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. When schools and universities were forced to close campuses due to COVID-19, everyone was sent home to finish up classes virtually. Overall, this quick switch has been challenging: Teachers have had to adapt their coursework and teaching styles to translate via video conference. Meanwhile, students have had to find ways to stay focused outside of a classroom setting.  But for parents of younger students, learning from home has been especially difficult. Traditionally, children pair locations with specific behaviors: Home is where they relax and play, and school is for work and learning. Therefore, outside a school building, it can be harder for them to focus. Without the physical presence of their teacher, it’s up to parents to keep them engaged throughout the ‘school day.’ So while handling regular tasks tied to jobs or adult responsibilities, parents also have to be ready to help with a homework problem at a moment’s notice.  If you or someone you know is a teacher, check out Cornerstone Cares. This free website is filled with Cornerstone online learning content and includes a dedicated set of training resources for K-12 teachers.Â

Cartoon Coffee Break: Working Parents Have Been Hit Harder By The Pandemic
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Cartoon Coffee Break: Working Parents Have Been Hit Harder By The Pandemic

Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back regularly for a new ReWork cartoon. Many company leaders and their employees have been working from home for over seven months now. Several are finding it difficult to stay focused or remain as productive as they were in the pre-pandemic office. Employees are increasingly feeling burnt out—and this is especially true for working parents. This demographic has been juggling work with teaching and caring for their children—and will most likely have to continue doing so for the foreseeable future. According to a recent survey from Catalyst and CNBC on the impact of COVID-19 on educational plans and the working parents of school-aged children, about 66% of parents said their children will be in 100% remote or virtual learning this fall. The Career Concerns of Working Parents Many parents are worried about the effects these conditions could have on their careers: 41% of parents reported having less job security due to the pandemic, and 42% are afraid to take advantage of the benefits their workplace offers working parents, for fear of losing their employment if they did so. As a result, parents are giving into their children’s requests for more screen time while they take work meetings and tend to job-related tasks. Some parents might see this strategy as potentially harmful to their children’s development, but research has proven otherwise. In fact, there’s little evidence that screen time can harm kids. As long as parents are making sure that technology isn’t replacing necessary activities—like exercise and sleep—increased screen time should have little-to-no negative impact. How Employers Can Better Support Working Parents While this is good news, working parents are still having a difficult year, and there are steps that employers should take to alleviate some of their challenges. For example, companies need to increase transparency around their available benefits for working parents and actively encourage them to use them as needed. And to assuage working parents’ concerns around job security, employers should take opportunities to make it clear that there will be no consequences if employees do choose to use these benefits. Empathetic communication can help get rid of these worries as well. Ask HR teams and managers to check-in with working parents frequently, making sure that they feel supported and aren’t overwhelmed. To learn more about the importance of empathy in the workplace and gather some tips on how to implement it, check out this recent article from Cornerstone’s CLO, Jeff Miller. Â

Celebrating International Women’s Day with Women at Cornerstone
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Celebrating International Women’s Day with Women at Cornerstone

March 8 is International Women's Day—a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. But in addition to recognizing women’s achievements, the day also serves as a call to action for accelerating gender parity in the workplace. Advancing women’s rights is often thought of as the purview of business leaders or the HR department, whether it’s creating pay equity programs or offering maternity leave benefits. But another important component of these efforts is the employees themselves—often, through employee resource groups, or ERGs. Made up of employees with shared experiences or characteristics who join together in the workplace, these groups create support systems within a company and can be a powerful source of change and advocacy. Cornerstone’s own ERG for women, called Women at Cornerstone (W@C), is dedicated to lifting up the voices of female employees at the company. We spoke to Kelly Wenzel, the global lead for W@C who is based in the U.S., and Andrea Sennett, a member of the EMEA chapter, to discuss their experiences with the group and its differing global and localized approaches. We also spoke to them about the group’s plans to continue supporting women—now and into the future: How does W@C approach the task of amplifying women's voices and advocating for female employees at the company? Kelly Wenzel:We try to listen more than we talk.Our mission at W@C is to engage, inspire and amplify women across Cornerstone. All of our programs are aligned to the feedback of our members focused on planning for ongoing growth of their careers, leveraging their strengths, closing the skill and knowledge gaps and most importantly building cross-functional networks. The “listen-first” approach is especially important in fostering connection within our global chapters of W@C. How do we ensure our efforts are intersectional – not only in terms of race, gender, but cultural differences? How do we address the unique needs of our members across regions, functions and different levels of the business? We do it by listening first, then taking action to drive inclusivity and amplification of all Cornerstone employees. Andrea Sennett: In the EMEA chapter of W@C, we’re going through some leadership changes. But this has helped us promote a culture that’s less hierarchical and, therefore, more capable of bringing in and highlighting the voices of many—rather than just a few. We hear from women at every level of the organization, and collect their experiences to inform the work and focus of our chapter.  We heard from Torin Ellis on a recent episode of the HR Labs Podcast that it's critical for ERGs to be empowered to not only just be a support system, but also to take action on behalf of the community they represent. What are some of the ways W@C has taken action over the last year? Kelly Wenzel: We worked with the Cornerstone Foundation to set up a partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF)—a non-profit organization that prepares young people to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens—to raise money for their program, “Passport to Success.” For example, in 2020 we created W@C-branded tees and sweatshirts for employees to purchase through our online fundraisers and raised almost $5,000 to support IYF in creating more equitable talent pipelines for future generations. Andrea Sennett: We’re also hosting more conversations to foster more connections internally. For example, Duane LaBom, Cornerstone’s Chief Diversity Officer, asked to sit down with the EMEA chapter of W@C for an open conversation. We talked about our experiences as women in the workplace. There were a lot of moments where people started realizing their shared challenges. It was the first time that we all acknowledged, actually, not everything in the garden is rosy, and that's not because it's not rosy at Cornerstone, it's because it's not rosy in life. Kelly Wenzel: We’re also trying to promote and improve our efforts by working with other employee resource groups at Cornerstone. For example, we have Disability Visibility, Black Employee Alliance, Cornerstone Plus, Working Parents, LatinX, so many more. In doing so, we’re finding the power in numbers. It’s amazing what happens when we come together as one company to address the societal issues that impact our company—and any company for that matter. The disproportionate effect that the pandemic had on working women has been well-documented. A startling number of working moms—especially Black and Latina individuals—have left the workforce or put their careers on hold due to the pandemic. What are Women at Cornerstone’s plan for supporting its female employees in the post-COVID world? Kelly Wenzel: It is something that weighs heavily on me personally and across our members of W@C. Our goal is to ensure all of our programs honor the increased demands of our members and focused on providing a channel for investment back in themselves. We also want W@C to act as a safe space for female employees to discuss how they can foster an at-home support ecosystem with their partner. Women being able to stay engaged in work requires shared responsibility of childcare and virtual learning. Lastly, we’re working to make sure that we act with compassion right now. I say that both as the lead of W@C, but also as a business leader. It’s critical to ensure we retain these employees, their skills, expertise and tenure. Andrea Sennett: I also think that, to not only help keep women in the workplace but to support their growth within it, we need to encourage mentorship and coaching within these programs. This is a goal for our chapter of W@C. As a more tenured employee at the company, I want to help entry-level female employees assimilate into the workplace successfully and work with them to make sure that they are approaching certain issues—like pay equity—correctly and confidently. ChoosetoChallenge for International Women’s Day 2021 In recognition of International Women’s Day and its 2021 theme ChoosetoChallenge gender bias and inequality, enjoy this video from Cornerstone employees across the globe as they share how they’re committing to creating a more inclusive world. For more information on the importance of accelerating gender parity in the workforce, listen to this episode of the HR Labs podcast, where host Jeff Miller sits down with activist Lilly Ledbetter — a woman whose name is synonymous with the fight for pay equity. They discuss the state of equal employee compensation today, what needs to change and why it's important for companies and their employees.

From the CEO's Desk: An Open Letter on Race and Bias
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From the CEO's Desk: An Open Letter on Race and Bias

To Our Cornerstone Community, We sit at a transformative moment in America. But this moment is transformative if, and only if, we honestly self-reflect and take action. These past several weeks sadly have not been markedly different than what has transpired over many, many years. The issues of race and inclusivity are unfortunately not new, but the world in which they continue to play out is different. As an American, I find it impossible to watch the videos of Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper and George Floyd, and hear the stories of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, among too many others, without feelings of guilt, shame and outrage. Simply stating “we need to do better” does not address the moral imperative to do better and the commitment to sustained action. We have the means, the reach and now the greater will to educate the world. While no panacea, education is an important piece of this puzzle. We were not born with conscious or unconscious bias. We learned it. We can start by unlearning behaviors. We need to unlearn racism and bias. Then we need to learn anew. Learn to be anti-racist, to be an ally, to do better. Individually and together, we can create change. And then we must do better. We have a diverse organization. We have diversity and inclusion initiatives. We train our people and our clients on unconscious bias. But we can do much better, and we will. For our community: We will support the Internship Initiative of LA-Tech.org, the organization we founded, which has committed to finding tech internships for 1,000 underprivileged people of color in Los Angeles. We are offering free training on unconscious bias to the general public through Cornerstone Cares. We are expanding the Workforce Ready initiative of our Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation—which helps prepare people for interviews, internships and entering the workforce—from a local to a national initiative by partnering with local governments and nonprofit organizations, including those focused on supporting black youth. We will continue our work with local nonprofits which provide support and mentorship to underprivileged youth, many of whom are people of color. For our clients: We are providing free unconscious bias training for all of our learning clients. We are committed to creating more compelling content that helps people engage in meaningful dialogue around race, including new content every quarter to enable continuous learning. We are expanding our Modern Compliance Content Anytime subscription to include a Cornerstone Originals learning series that explores topics too often deemed off-limits in the workplace, such as ethnicity, age, religion, ability and gender, to support people in their journey to fight bias. We are implementing a supplier diversity program. For our employees: We will continue to train all of our people on unconscious bias, diversity & inclusion and harassment awareness. We will increase our hiring efforts for diverse candidates, including recruiting from traditionally black universities, to improve ethnic-minority diversity at all levels of the company. We are creating a leadership council to give voice to our ethnically diverse employees, and our executives will mentor employees from our under-represented groups. We are adding inclusive management practices to our manager training curriculum.  This is a new starting point, not an end point. Nothing we do today will erase generations of institutionalized oppression and discrimination. We have a lot more to learn and a lot of work to do. Our pledge today is to keep working at this, even when the current spotlight fades, and never stop. This isn’t a moment, it’s a movement. Join us. Best, Adam

Cornerstone Celebrates Ada Lovelace Day 2020
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Cornerstone Celebrates Ada Lovelace Day 2020

On October 13, Cornerstone celebrated Ada Lovelace Day – an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Ada Lovelace Day aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models to encourage girls to explore STEM careers and support women in STEM. Cornerstone first celebrated Ada Lovelace Day in 2019. It was a huge success, creating such a strong sense of pride and accomplishment that we decided to make it a much bigger celebration this year! Here’s how Cornerstone employees (aka Cornerstars) celebrated ALD20. CTO Mark Goldin kicked off the celebrations Cornerstone’s Chief Technology Officer Mark Goldin kicked off the Ada Lovelace Day celebrations with a Facebook Live session welcoming and encouraging Cornerstars around the globe to participate, celebrate, and focus on inclusivity. Mark said it well: “Inclusivity is everybody’s issue.” At Cornerstone, we strive every day to create an inclusive environment because we want everyone’s full participation and we need to hear everyone’s ideas so we can keep developing innovative solutions for our customers.  Mark ended his talk with this Ada Lovelace quote capturing the learning mindset so deeply embedded into Cornerstone’s culture: “Understand well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand.” The Extraordinary Power of Diversity — a Live Q&A Organizations that embrace Diversity & Inclusion in all aspects of their business see increased levels of innovation, productivity, employee engagement, employee retention and overall better business outcomes. But it doesn't mean that it's easy to achieve! It’s why in this session, hosted by our D&I in Tech committee members, we explored the extraordinary power of diversity, and discussed how to advance D&I amongst Cornerstone teams. Participants explored the importance of equity, using this quote from D&I expert Verna Myers as a starting point for an interactive discussion: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” This example resonated with participants: If diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance – then equity is ensuring everyone invited to the party can get there. It’s about looking at any initiative and distributing resources in a way that creates better outcomes for everyone involved.  The conversation went on to explore how to address microagressions, the verbal or behavioral indignities that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally, communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative attitudes towards marginalized groups. Important side note: On a recent HR Happy Hour podcast interview, Sarah Morgan, CEO of Buzz-A-Rooney described microaggressions as multiple paper cuts. On its own, a papercut doesn’t hurt so bad but piled up one after...they’re painful. Sarah noted that people with one or more marginalized identities experience 5-10 microagressions per day. The harm is real even if it’s unintentional. The Extraordinary Power of Diversity talk closed with a call to get involved in DEI initiatives: Educate yourself. Do the work to challenge your biases. Learn, learn, learn (no short cuts!). Rethink and reframe the stories you tell yourself. Stop using the talent pipeline as an excuse for not creating diverse teams.  It’s not just about “hiring the best”, which just results in what Kara Swisher famously calls the mirror-tocracy; it’s about hiring and creating diverse teams of people with different experiences and stories from yours. Be inclusive.Develop your emotional quotient (EQ). Practice empathy and build relationships. Get involved. Connect with Employee Resource Groups in your organization. Explore opportunities to provide support in your community. Mentor others. Diversity, inclusion and equity builds more productive and innovative teams. Looking at DEI from a technology perspective, the diversity of our teams should mirror the diversity of the society we build technology for. Celebrating Cornerstars in STEM Throughout the day Cornerstone employees from across the globe were profiled in our internal and external social channels and celebrated for their unique perspectives on embracing DEI. Here are a few words of wisdom from these amazing Cornerstars... Fireside Chat with Barbara Furlow, Global DEI Leader at Facebook Ada Lovelace Day celebrations included an inspiring fireside chat with Barbara Furlow-Smiles, a global DEI leader at Facebook. Cornerstar and chat moderator Payal Shah kicked off the conversation by asking Barbara to share something she is most proud of. For Barbara, it’s the behavior change in people – when a comment, talk, or presentation changes the paradigm. That shift in thinking is what it’s all about! Barbara said she “took her pain and made it a purpose.” She didn’t always feel like she belonged. But there are two perspectives: you can fall victim to those feelings, or you can take them and turn them around. That analogy resounded throughout the day’s sessions and celebrations: Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is “like a dance.” Think about it as a dance party: Who's invited to the dance? Who’s dancing? Who’s busting a move on the dance floor? And who are the people who weren’t asked to dance or weren’t invited? DE&I is about connection. It’s about getting comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Step outside your comfort zone and understand who others are and walk in their shoes. The ABCDE approach – Always check in, Be bold about who you are, Constantly call people in, Detect the cracks, and Embrace flexibility – puts the accountability on yourself to check in and reach out to others. To end the session, Barbara shared her “brag sheet” and gave attendees an opportunity to get uncomfortable with themselves. She shared the 4 Gs to own your greatness (Greatness, Growth, Go for it, Grateful): What are you great at? What are your strengths? What is a growth area? What is something new you’ll try today? What is something you’re grateful for? Barbara asked attendees to consider these questions for self-reflection and growth, and we challenge you to do the same. STEM Trivia, a Talent Show and Coding with Kids! Ada Lovelace Day at Cornerstone ended with some interactive learning and networking opportunities! A group of Cornerstars played STEM Trivia: 5 rounds, 5 categories including Science, Tech, Engineering, Math, Women in STEM. Questions ranged from: What does a ribosome do? (It synthesizes proteins) to who was the first female game programmer? (Her name is Carol Shaw!) It was a fun way to bring Cornerstars together and test our STEM knowledge. Cornerstars also participated in a DEI Talent Showcase – sharing their unique talents with performances covering stand-up comedy, slam poetry and so much more! And with coding becoming one of the most in-demand skills across all industries, we invited Cornerstone employees and their children to join a fun learning session introducing the basics of coding. Honoring the life and legacy of Ada Lovelace Ada Lovelace, notably the first computer programmer, paved the way for women in STEM. At Cornerstone, we’re committed to continuing to pave that path, amplify the female voices in STEM and create a diverse and inclusive environment for every Cornerstar. Learn more about steps your organization can take to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce by visiting Cornerstone Cares, a free website filled with online learning content about topics that are exceptionally timely, critical and evolving day by day – including how to recognize and mitigate unconscious bias in the workplace. Interested in a career at Cornerstone? Visit our Careers page to see our latest openings on the engineering team and elsewhere, and to learn more about our culture, our people and what it’s like to be a Cornerstar. Â

Dear ReWorker: Can You Fire an Employee for Calling in Sick Too Often?
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Dear ReWorker: Can You Fire an Employee for Calling in Sick Too Often?

Dear ReWorker, We hired an employee at the beginning of this year to work the front desk of our medical office. She worked for 10 days, but has been out sick sporadically (with doctors notes) since then. When she has been in the office, she hasn't performed very well and we see that she is not a good candidate for this position. She uses her cell phone, works very slowly and shows no initiative. It's all very discouraging. My other employees are working harder than usual to pull her weight. I want to hire a replacement ASAP, but don't want to break any medical leave laws. What should I do? Is it legal to fire an employee for calling in sick too often? Sincerely, Needing a New Employee ___________________________________________________________________________________ Dear Needing, My first question for you is: do you have an absentee policy? Every business needs a policy that dictates how many days employees can miss due to illness, what procedures to follow and when to bring a doctor's note. Legally, an employee—even one that's stricken by some horrible disease—isn't covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) until they've worked for a company for at least a year, so you're not obligated to hold her position open while she takes care of her medical issues. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), though, is a different story. If your company has more than 15 employees, all workers are eligible for protection on day one. If your new employee has a serious disability that results in these absences, you're required to make a "reasonable accommodation" for her. What is reasonable? That depends on the job. For instance, it's reasonable for an accountant with migraines to work in a quiet, dim area or have a special computer screen. It's not reasonable for a bartender in a dance club to work in a quiet, dim area. Absences can sometimes be considered reasonable, but most likely not for the employee you've described. As a front desk worker, being on site is a core function of her job, so excessive absenteeism wouldn't be considered a reasonable accommodation. With that said, unless you live in Montana, you're in at at-will state, so you can let your employee go whenever you choose to do so. It's rare to do this without warning, however, so here's what I recommend instead. Focus on her behavior at work, not the absences. Even though it's unlikely that she's covered by any legal protection, there's a chance that the reason she is calling in sick so often is because she has suddenly developed a serious illness—it's certainly not her fault, and we should attempt compassion. Sit her down and say, "Jane, you're on your cell phone often. You show no initiative. Other people have to work harder to make up for your work ethic. We are going to put you on a performance improvement plan (PIP)." Present her with a formal document that states the areas she needs to improve and ask her what training or help she might need. Then, make it clear that she has 30 days to change her ways and meet all of the conditions of the PIP. Warn her that if you don't notice a difference, you'll terminate her. If she starts complaining about her health, say that you understand, but explain that she still has to meet these conditions within 30 days, ill or not. And, in the meantime, put together an absentee policy and follow it strictly. When rules are clearly laid out, it makes it easier for employees to separate right from wrong behaviors, and gives employers the right to dole out consequences when rules are not followed. Sincerely, Your ReWorker Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady Photo: Creative Commons

Facing an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality at Work? Here's How to Break the Divide
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Facing an 'Us vs. Them' Mentality at Work? Here's How to Break the Divide

The longest running sitcom in America, "The Simpsons," owes much of its popularity to Homer Simpson; a selfish, slovenly adorable character whose single goal at work is to get away with as much goofing off as possible, even if it means risking a nuclear melt-down. While Homer is a parody of the average American worker—taken to impossible extremes—he does represent a condition that affects much of the working class: an "us versus them" mentality. Homer does not see himself as a key contributor in his company, but rather as just another cog in the wheel—an attitude that can lead to a loss of productivity and effectiveness. So, how does a business fight this prevailing employee attitude, and what is HR's role in the process? Embrace Transparency — Down to the Bottom Line HR's current favorite buzz-word is employee engagement, with little wonder. In the October 2015 study titled "Technology-Enabled Employee Engagement: Top Five Features Your HCM System Should Have," the Aberdeen Group found that companies with dedicated engagement programs experienced a 26 percent greater annual revenue increase on average. They cited five enablers for engagement, two of which I believe are the most relevant to HR: "open communication" and "recognition." The Aberdeen report emphasized that part of your engagement plan should provide employees with a stronger connection to the company's purpose. For many companies, this translates to sharing corporate processes, values, goals, visions and does-and-don'ts, but they rarely venture into sharing financial information or explaining to a new-hire how she fits into the overall profitability of her department. However, communicating about financials may be the missing piece of your engagement puzzle. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Bill Fotsch and John Case explain how sharing key financial numbers with employees has proven to be even more effective for engagement than employee stock ownership. It's Not About the Spreadsheet As human resources controls the new-hire orientation and sets the tone for employment, you're in a special position to be transparent from the start. But if you just hand new-hires or tenured employees a financial sheet and expect them to be more engaged, you have missed the point altogether. The idea is to give every employee a sense of how their jobs impact the bottom-line. No matter how low on the totem pole workers are, for the sake of future employment and salary increases, they want the business to succeed. Explaining to the janitors that their work of diligently cleaning the facilities helped potential clients feel positive about your business—which was an essential part of achieving a 25 percent profit margin last month—will help them see their jobs in a new light. Fostch and Case found that conversations like this not only instills pride in a lower-level employee's work, but also encourages an entrepreneurial spirit as employees look for new ways to save money and increase productivity for better margins. The Power of Involvement In a Wall Street Journal report titled "What Your Employees Don't Know Will Hurt You," the author tells the story of a fast-food outlet where the young employees were taught how to read a simple financial statement. The managers would post a weekly profitability chart on the wall of the breakroom, and bonuses were paid based on how well the business was doing. It didn't take long for everyone to become interested in how they could contribute to making the profit margin grow. Whether you celebrate reaching your financial target with a cash payout or a Friday pizza party, there needs to be some tangible way to cement the idea that everyone in the company is important and involved in financial success—and that it takes group effort to turn a profit. A Battle on all Fronts Of course, HR will also have to convince upper management that financial transparency is the right path to take. Sometimes the "us versus them" attitude comes from the top of the organization, too. Traditions are hard to overcome, but once you've armed yourself with the right information to convince executives of the power of transparency, victory will be within your grasp. However, the battle is not over. Your recognition and rewards program will need to be revamped and designed to reflect your new culture of openness. Frontline managers will need to be brought onboard so that they too understand the new philosophy. Once everyone is fighting for the same team, "us versus them" will refer only to your competition—and I pity those who fight for your share of the market! Photo: Creative Commons

Are You Getting Your Employees Engaged?
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Are You Getting Your Employees Engaged?

Engagement is the emotional connection employees have to their organization. Highly engaged employees believe in what they’re doing, feel a sense of ownership and will deliver more than what’s required in their roles; disengaged employees might not even come in on Mondays. So if you want your people to a) show up and b) give 110%, here a few things to keep in mind. Engagement matters Companies with higher employee engagement experience reduced absenteeism and turnover, fewer safety incidents and increased productivity and profitability. Engaged employees are better brand ambassadors, creating more positive customer experiences and therefore happier customers. Basically, an engaged workforce is a good thing. More than money (or massages) Engagement is boosted by positive working relationships, learning, development and progression opportunities, feeling valued (as people, not just as labor units) and being empowered. You can’t rely on increased compensation or office perks; they’re unlikely to make a difference to most people. Growing companies have an advantage Smaller companies tend to have higher engagement as teams are small, tight-knit and focused on the common goal. There’s nowhere for underperformers or poisonous personalities to hide, and it’s easy to recognize achievements. Of course, clearly communicating direction and hiring the right people are critical for reinforcing this culture! Happiness is important, but it isn’t everything People can be perfectly happy at work without being engaged; they’ll do their jobs but not necessarily go the extra mile. On the other hand, engagement can encourage happiness: highly engaged employees might overlook the little things – no coffee in the break room for example – that would make less engaged employees unhappy. Managers are kind of a big deal Engagement depends not only on what the company can offer, but the relationships people build in the workplace. Managers need support to promote individual engagement: build strong relationships, leverage strengths, encourage development, and discover everyone’s unique motivators. Baby Boomers in particular are likely to become more or less engaged as a result of management support (or lack thereof). A very long engagement People are usually engaged in their roles when they’re starting out, so the challenge is maintaining that commitment and enthusiasm throughout their careers. New employees are usually encouraged to innovate, enjoy individual attention and get continuous information about the company, expectations and performance. Continue in this vein, and give them ample opportunity to develop and progress. So you’re engaged, or not. Now what? You can easily hire a company to measure your engagement levels or do it yourself with a survey. But it’s not enough to measure – you need to collect actionable, relevant data so you can make changes as a result of your findings. If you ask employees if they have enough learning opportunities, be prepared to offer more if the answer is ‘no’. Engagement needs commitment Running an engagement survey and not doing anything with the results is a surefire way to undermine your efforts; remember employees who don’t feel listened to are unlikely to engage. So if you want an engaged workforce, focus on engagement drivers, Always Be Communicating, lead from the front and model the values and behaviors you want to see in your people. It’ll pay off! If you're a member of HR.com, come along to this free webinar on October 29 and hear what CSOD's very own Engagement Manager Rachel Light has to say about getting – and staying - engaged.

How to Create a Culture of Curiosity at Your Company
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How to Create a Culture of Curiosity at Your Company

In a time of rapid technological change, innovation is a critical component for growth—even survival. But what does it mean to be "innovative?" Feeling ideas flow and challenging the status-quo come to mind. In fact, at the root of all innovation is one important component: curiosity. And building a culture of curiosity at your company will, I believe, drive innovation for years to come. In my upcoming book "Cracking the Curiosity Code," I set out to learn how leaders at some of the most innovative companies create a culture of curiosity. After completing nearly one thousand interviews with leaders across the country, I found that every company had three qualities in common: 1) They Think Outside the Box Companies with a strong culture of curiosity are constantly thinking beyond the confines of how things have been done in the past. One of my favorite examples of thinking outside the box is that of a physician at England's Great Ormond Street Hospital. After the hospital experienced a number of casualties during patient transfers, the doctor brought in a Formula One racing team to evaluate the hospital's processes, asking them to make observations based on their own methods. The process recommended by the racing team (a three-step approach to triage) reduced the hospital's errors by more than 50 percent. This was only possible because the hospital was open to trying something new. To encourage your employees to find new solutions to old problems, consider hosting a hack-a-thon that focuses on solving a longstanding problem in a new way. Or put new hires through a rotational program—where they spend a set amount of time in finance, marketing and sales—that will expose them to a variety of different perspectives and approaches to the problems your company is working to solve every day. 2) They Embrace New Ideas A key part of being curious is feeling safe enough to ask questions and try new things without fear of repercussion. If you want your employees to feel comfortable doing either of these things, you must foster a culture that embraces new ideas. Part of building a culture where employees feel safe to suggest new ideas is communicating the fact that questions and proposals are valued. In order to achieve this, find out what has inhibited employees to suggest new ideas in the past. You can give employees a curiosity assessment that will identify which aspects of company culture need to be improved to make them feel safer. Once you have the results, create action plans with employees to help them incorporate curiosity into their day-to-day. 3) They Build Curiosity Into Development Enforce the importance of curiosity by making curiosity development part of the yearly performance review. Evaluate the extent to which your workers think outside the box to solve problems, ask key questions and experiment without fear. And, to help them learn how to be curious, qualities that contribute to developing curiosity like improving emotional intelligence and engagement should be incorporated into your organization's cultural development process. Leaders can schedule monthly or quarterly meetings to assess progress in these areas. Creating a culture of curiosity depends on leaders who can create an atmosphere where questions and ideas are embraced. When that occurs, you'll create a path to a more engaged, innovative and productive organization. Photo: Creative Commons

How to Take an Intentional Approach to Inclusive Leadership
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How to Take an Intentional Approach to Inclusive Leadership

Living and working in the digital age, with its constant change and new innovations, is both exhilarating and at times frightening. There has never been more opportunity, yet we’re all at risk of being disrupted at any time. At Cornerstone we often say “tomorrow will look nothing like today,” but since no one knows what the future will bring, what can individuals and organizations do to ensure that we are not the ones being disrupted? The answer to this question lies in understanding a key difference between the digital age we’re living through and previous industrial revolutions.   The digital age allows you to tap into a world market easier and faster than ever before. It’s how Cornerstone can deliver Talent solutions to 75 million users across over 180 countries. But to take advantage of a global market, you need to understand the world. And there is no better way to do this than by creating and developing diverse and inclusive teams. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is more important for business than ever: a truly diverse team increases team intelligence, offering different perspectives and skill sets. Despite these trends, companies have been slow to successfully implement D&I, and inclusion specifically has lagged. One 2020 survey suggests that while 9 in 10 employees described their companies as diverse, 3 in 10 said they didn't feel a sense of inclusion or belonging at work. Even if a company has hired a diverse team, it won’t benefit from increased team intelligence unless employees feel they belong: employees who don’t feel included will keep their ideas and opinions to themselves. Think about every cringe-worthy Super Bowl commercial you’ve seen, and you’ll understand the dangers of people being afraid to share their opinion. In 2019, I was tapped to lead the D&I initiative within Cornerstone’s tech org. I quickly realized that a true sense of inclusion has to start with the leadership team, because leaders are the ones who drive social norms at companies. Their actions have a trickle-down effect. So I implemented a plan to drive inclusive leadership at Cornerstone—and in the process I learned a great deal about what defines inclusive leadership, how to implement it, and how it can continue to evolve. What Does an Inclusive Leader Look Like—and Why Do They Matter? When our CTO asked me to take on this effort to increase D&I in Cornerstone’s tech org, I didn’t get busy creating employee resource groups or mentoring programs targeting minorities. Instead I gave myself six months to achieve one very strategic goal: convince the 20-person tech leadership team that inclusion is integral to our strategic vision for the company. In that time, I acted as a coach and D&I advocate to these leaders, helping them first understand what it means to be an inclusive leader. Harvard Business Review research suggests that there are six core traits of inclusive leaders: Visible commitment Humility Awareness of bias Curiosity about others Cultural intelligence Effective collaboration Inclusive leaders pay attention to who's invited to meetings, they don't tolerate disrespect, and they make sure the loudest person in the room is not doing all the talking. And by modeling inclusive practices, they drive social norms at the company. Think about unconscious bias training at companies today. If employees hear about this training from the HR department, people will look at it like a box to check. But when your CTO or manager says, ‘Hey, this is really important. And here are all the benefits we get as an organization, as people,’ it changes people's behavior. How to Be an Inclusive Leader Becoming an inclusive leader is a process that starts with the first of HBR’s traits: commitment. If you commit to being an inclusive leader, the rest of the traits will follow. As a biracial woman with a 20-year career in software engineering, I am all too familiar with the experience of being an “only,”: the only woman on a team, in a room, or at a leadership table. This made it easy for me to think I would be more naturally inclusive and able to counteract my biases at work. But then, during a one-on-one meeting, a member of my team called me out. She told me that she felt unappreciated and excluded when I recognized a group of employees for their work and neglected to include her in that recognition—even though she was a major contributor to the project. It was an important learning moment for me, but also one that wouldn’t have happened had I not committed to building trust. She felt safe to share how she felt and knew I was open to hearing about mistakes I make.  As I was working with my peers on the leadership team, I challenged them to build the same openness and trust with their teams. I asked them to think: When was the last time someone called you out about your bias? When was the last time someone disagreed with you? If no one challenges you, it’s not because you are perfect. Most of the time, employees aren’t going to be forthcoming with tough feedback—as a leader, you have to invite that feedback, listen to the feedback without reacting, and then learn from it and change your behaviors.   Driving Long-Term Inclusive Leadership Ultimately, I met the goal I set for myself in the first six months—and it had exactly the impact I was hoping for. The leaders prioritized D&I and as a result, employees began raising their hands to participate. The visible commitment demonstrated by leaders gave employees permission to organize and start speaking out. We quickly had 50 volunteers to work on different committees internally to drive ongoing change and advance D&I through all areas of our technology department. Since then, we’ve seen many examples of inclusive leadership in action, like how our leadership team recently took advantage of remote work to invite more people to the table for our annual cloud summit, where we make decisions about our tech stack. Instead of a small group of people gathered at headquarters, we had 100 people from around the world participate. And it was by far our most successful and insightful summit yet. Inclusive leadership is, above all, an ongoing journey. You can never put this on auto pilot. You’re always learning. And as we saw with the pandemic, things change all the time; inclusive leadership is about constantly expanding your understanding of people and culture, and consistently adjusting the work environment to ensure everyone has a sense of belonging and contributing fully. To learn more about inclusive leadership, check out insights from industry experts below. And for even more insights and strategies to build an inclusive culture in the workplace, tune into Season 3 of HR Labs, where we focus each episode on strategies to take D&I from intention to action.Â

Inspiring Teamwork: Lessons From a Serial Collaborator
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Inspiring Teamwork: Lessons From a Serial Collaborator

One of my favorite Disrupt Yourself podcast guests in 2018 was Peter Sims—serial entrepreneur, author of Little Bets and founder of Parliament, BLK SHP and Silicon Guild. He began his career in venture capital, but with time and maturity, he recognized that the long work weeks and bizarre hours weren't for him. He left that world to enroll in business school at Stanford, where he realized that what he loved most was collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs as they worked to realize their dreams. Throughout his career, Sims has had a string of successful collaborations. At Stanford, for example, he met Bill George, former CEO of Medtronic, who was, at the time, a professor at Harvard Business School. They discovered a shared interest in effective, authentic leadership and George invited Sims to collaborate with him on a book titled True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, which quickly became a bestseller. With several similar success stories under his belt, Sims is now teaching others why being an effective collaborator is critical for employees across organizations, from entry level roles all the way up to the C-suite. After all, ideas developed by teams of three or more people have 156 percent greater appeal than those developed by teams where just one or two people have played a hands-on role. And while it may seem that creating a synergistic team often comes down to luck, there's also quite a bit of strategy involved. I asked Sims to dish on what makes someone an effective collaborator and how to create a collaborative workplace. Three Attributes of Effective Collaborators Curiosity is integral to discovery, innovation and, not coincidentally, to successful collaboration. “People who are curious and are lifelong learners are going to be drawn to other curious people who they think they can learn from through an interaction," says Sims. Generosity has to be "at the core" of collaboration, says Sims, because collaboration is inherently a two-way street. Part of it is giving something—be it skills, advice or support—and part of it is receiving that back. After leaving the VC world, Sims became "very focused on people who had a certain value-set and were motivated more by creation than transaction." People who are only interested in gaining from collaborations aren't good partners, he explains. Productivity is critical for an effective collaboration, because "good collaborators want to get stuff done. They don't want to talk—they want to do," Sims says. Creating a Collaborative Workplace Though the three attributes of effective collaboration that Sims outlines are often innate to certain employees, you can also cultivate these traits through the right training and corporate environment. Here's how: 1) Inspire Learning Don't make the mistake of only offering new opportunities to employees as an incentive to stay when they are already halfway out the door. Learning initiatives and ongoing training both reward and cultivate curiosity, as does mixing up team composition and assignments on a regular basis. Challenge employees that have maxed out their potential in one role and are ready to disrupt themselves. Encouraging them to commit to a new project contributes to both employee retention and company innovation. 2) Provide Meaning Many workers today are motivated not only by raises and promotions, but also by meaningful work and contributing to important social causes. Make sure company values are clearly defined and articulated. Be warned: businesses that focus solely on transactional relationships and the bottom line will be less attractive to generous collaborators. 3) Empower Problem-Solvers Fill your workplace with people who relish challenge and find fulfillment in developing solutions to big problems. A team with only a few “can-do" personalities will be hamstrung by the less enthusiastic members. If an employee is disengaged, she may need a new challenge or, sometimes, a new workplace. Be strategic about meetings, avoid busy-work, unnecessary window dressing and other time wasters. These are irritants to effective collaborators who want to get stuff done. In 2019, make fostering collaboration in the workplace a priority. Your employees may be craving collaboration more than you realize, and activating it can unleash innovation in a powerful way. “A lot of people are in jobs where they feel alone," Sims says. While isolated geniuses can have breakthrough ideas, most of us benefit from working in situations that favor positive collaboration. Even the least creative among us may have a flash of inspiration when in the company of stimulating friends. Photo: Creative Commons

Lifetime Employment: One Company Promises Never to Fire
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Lifetime Employment: One Company Promises Never to Fire

How would offering lifetime employment to your employees change your organization? Ask almost any HR professional and they would tell you that employee terminations or layoffs are the hardest and most heart-wrenching parts of the job. However, the traditional employment model touts them as a necessary evil. One e-commerce company, Next Jump, is taking a different approach, promising to never fire and offering additional training if a performance issue arises. In a recent TED Talk, "Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe," author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek used family structure as a way of understanding this sort of approach. "A company is a modern-day tribe. Hiring someone for your company is akin to having a child," he says. "If you have hard times in your family, would you ever consider laying off one of your children? We would never do it. Then why do we consider laying off people inside our organizations?" At Next Jump and other organizations that have found alternatives to firing, Sinek describes how this form of leadership creates a workplace where people feel connected, personally and emotionally. According to Jay Forte, author and certified workplace coach, this is an extremely valuable quality for organizations to develop. "We are in an intellectual workplace where our performance is the best when we are intellectually, personally and emotionally connected to work," he says. Forte describes these three fundamental connections in a high performing workplace: Intellectual: Employees have the abilities and talents to perform the role – they are capable and competent. Emotional: They are in roles that inspire them; they feel like they make a difference and are motivated by the work. Personal: They experience trust, respect, and meaningful relationships with their teams and managers. "Engagement happens when employees see something to commit to," Forte says. A company that commits to employees' futures shows them that they're more than just cogs in the wheel. Forte explains, "This type of leader wants more for their employees than for their customers because they know that an employee-focused workplace will create employees committed to do extraordinary things for their customers." When it comes to hiring as well, organizations that commit to never firing are forced to hire slowly and very deliberately. Forte says this type of hiring model (whether or not you choose to offer lifetime employment) is something all companies should consider. "When we choose wisely about who we bring into our organizations, we need to be aware we are making a lifetime decision," he says. "Not everyone fits in the organization. Therefore, choosing wisely initially is critical. Once chosen, it is right to think that employees will spend all of their career with the organization – this completely changes how we think about our people."Â

Taking Care of Yourself First
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Taking Care of Yourself First

The world of work changed virtually overnight with the global spread of COVID-19. In this series, we'll share personal stories and perspectives from Cornerstone employees who—like so many of us—are doing their best to balance life, work and learning from their couches, kitchen tables and other makeshift office spaces.  +++++ When employees come to me worried about missing work for family commitments or because they are sick, I’ve always given the same advice: Take good care of yourself first because, frankly, you’re useless to me and the business if you are sick, anxious or unable to be fully present. It’s my tongue-in-cheek way of saying not only is it OK to prioritize your well-being—it’s expected. That advice is especially important today. Getting through these uncertain and turbulent times will only be possible if we can all come together—as co-workers, as friends and families and as neighbors. And to truly be present for our communities, we must first take care of our own mental and physical health.  For so many of us, these past few weeks have been a struggle. I personally have been coming to terms with my “new normal,” which includes a full-time job, homeschooling a first-grader, keeping a 4-year-old entertained and supporting a husband who still has to work outside of the home. And amid all of that, I’m still finding ways to focus on my own health and well-being. 1. Find Three Things I discovered this practice when I brought my first baby home from the hospital, an event that feels oddly similar to this current situation, given the disruption in schedule and consistency, the isolation and the worry over the health and safety of others. During that time, I realized I had to massively simplify my expectations of the day and focus on three things I could control. Now I’m returning to the same ones I chose seven years ago. Each day counts as a success if I can: 1) Make my bed 2) Make my coffee 3) Get fresh air (ideally, get out for a walk) Each of these activities carries meaning for me because of the ritual or sense of control they provide. But they can really be any three things, as long as they are simple and achievable. 2. Strengthen Your Virtual Connections I self-identify as an extreme extrovert, so one of the biggest challenges for me has been missing things like the five-minute connection I get with other parents at drop-off or looking forward to soccer games. Heck, I would sit in any amount of traffic just to be able to see my co-workers face-to-face again! Even though several of us had worked remotely a few days a week prior to COVID-19 and were used to not seeing one another on a daily basis, we all wanted to connect more regularly as a result. So, we set up a daily 15-20-minute virtual check-in. One day we might scale it back, but for now, we all look forward to that time to see one other and laugh together. I’ve scheduled similar check-ins with my friends and family, and so has my daughter. And this weekend, I will be hosting my first virtual game night with a group of other parents. 3. Practice Simple Self-Care Early this year, I set a goal of establishing self-care practices, which forced me to evolve my thinking: It’s not just about pampering yourself; it’s about sticking to routines that keep you grounded and healthy. But with my gym closed, my appetite on the fritz and my stress levels seemingly spiking on the hour, how would it be possible to manage self-care? According to Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, an expert in the field of toxic stress, “What research tells us is that sleep, exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and a nurturing environment can reduce stress hormones and enhance the ability of the brain to recover from stress.” These past couple of weeks, I’ve focused on getting quality sleep, drinking water and eating protein (not the brownies I really want), and doing some exercise every day—even if it’s joining my kids for unicorn yoga. I’m trying to fit some mindfulness into the mix, but it’s difficult when small humans are crawling on you. The bottom line is that everyone will deal with this uncertain time in different ways. And every day will bring new challenges as we strive to understand and organize our new normal. But the best way I know to be the person my community needs is to focus on the things that keep me grounded and healthy. Hopefully, you can do the same. Brenna Lenoir is the Director of Field Marketing at Cornerstone. Â

Want Engaged Employees? You Need Values First
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Want Engaged Employees? You Need Values First

Employee engagement may be the latest HR buzzword, but that doesn't mean you should ignore it as a fad. With only 13 percent of employees engaged at work around the world, the majority of employers have a lot of room to improve — and positively impact the bottom line while they're at it. A recent report from Dale Carnegie found that companies in the United States with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent. Similarly, according to Gallup, organizations with high engagement levels also report 22 percent higher productivity. Of course, there's no lack of advice on how to join this club of highly engaged and high performing organizations, but I think any engagement effort comes down to a crucial foundation: your values. As a company leader, in HR or at the executive level, strong personal values allow you to guide the organization in a positive and genuine direction. And when your organization demonstrates strong values, then you will begin to naturally attract and hire employees who share and aspire to the same values. Building a culture of purpose and engaging employees still takes significant time and strategy, but finding the right kind of people to work at your organization is a crucial part of starting this journey. How to Define Your Values If "values" seem like a vague concept to you, let me put it this way: What defines you at your core? It's not an easy question to answer — and it shouldn't be. Over the years, I've found that this five-step exercise can provide an inspirational start: 1) Identify a peak moment in your life Can you recall a moment where your life couldn't get any better? When everything felt aligned? It may have even felt like the best day of your life. Now, describe this peak moment in detail. If you are working on this exercise alone, write the description. If you are doing this with someone, talk about this moment for 2-3 minutes while the other person takes notes. For example, one of my peak moments was taking leaders on Safaris for the Soul in Africa. I loved watching the leaders grow during the two-week program and hearing the wildlife sounds. 2) Discuss the values exemplified in this moment Why do you remember this moment so clearly and fondly? Think about why it stands out to you as a defining experience in your life: Was it the place? People? Activity? There were three things that contributed most profoundly to my peak moment: being outdoors, working with people to develop their potential and being adventurous. 3) Pick the most important value out of your list Remember that your values apply to both your personal and professional worlds — pick one value from your list that you think is particularly important to you in any context. For example, I would choose "adventurous." 4) Define what the chosen value or values mean to you Why did you choose this value out of all of the ones you listed? In what other ways have you displayed or followed this value in your life? This should be a personal description — so don't worry about creating a "dictionary" definition that could work for everyone. In my mind, for example, "adventurous" means choosing an unconventional path, trying lots of new things, going to new places, exploring options and tinkering with ideas to find solutions. 5) Choose a value name that resonates with YOU Your value doesn't necessarily have to be one word — it could be two words, or a short phrase. Think of what name exemplifies your value. It could be the original word you wrote on the list, or a brand new one. Most people would simply call the value I identified “adventurous.” However, the word adventurous doesn't resonate with me — instead, the name “wind in your face” is much more memorable. After walking through these five steps and coming to a clear value, go back to step one using the same or different peak moments until you've identified five or so core values. Putting Your Values to Practice As a leader, it's especially important that you exemplify these values in the workplace and use them to guide your business decisions. You need to walk the talk. Before you make an important decision, review your list of values and consider how your potential courses of action align with each of your values on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not aligned at all). When you're done, you want at least an average of 7 — less than that likely means the course you're considering will not only lead you astray, but your company as well. By integrating your personal values into all aspects of business, you will begin to direct the company in a more thoughtful manner and encourage your colleagues to do the same. I also highly recommend working through the values exercise with your leadership team, even if you've already done it alone. By helping each member of the team find his or her individual values, you will move toward remedying the colossal lack of engagement in today's workforce. Photo: Shutterstock

Webinar Recap: How ASU Sustained Its Learning Culture During Profound Disruption
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Webinar Recap: How ASU Sustained Its Learning Culture During Profound Disruption

The Arizona State University measures its value not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes and how they succeed. At the core of the university’s charter is an effort to not only advance research and discovery of public value, but to also assume fundamental responsibility for the economic, social, cultural and overall health of the communities it serves. With over 120,000 students scattered across five campuses, as well as online and in over 140 countries, it’s no wonder that ASU takes a highly strategic and laser-focused approach when introducing new technology. “Our enterprise technology strategy is all about advancing our mission of inclusivity. We always talk about technology as a catalyzing force for good that enables our vision for the ‘New American University,’ or the university of the future,” said Samantha Becker, ASU’s Executive Director, Creative and Communications, University Technology Office in a recent webinar, “How ASU Kept Their Learning Culture Strong During Profound Disruption.” COVID has certainly been a disruptor, but there have been and will be others. To continue to provide students with a high-quality education that leads to a successful career, the New American University must be flexible, adaptable and designed to empower its employees. Simply put, it must become the university of the future—and technology will play a massive role in making this flexible future possible. The Five Facets of New Tech at ASU For ASU, any new technology has to go through a rigorous review process and gain approval from an advisory board. It also must meet five key criteria: deliver social and economic impact; offer an enterprise experience, accelerating capacity through operational optimization; fosterlearner success, empowering all learners through inclusive strategies; be a next-gen solution, architecting cutting-edge practices in research, security, data and learning; and be a tool that enables visionary leadership to shaping the future through entrepreneurial thinking, empathy and community engagement.  The criteria is rigid for a reason: ASU’s strict guidelines pay off when the university has to lean on its tools to support its students and staff. For over two years now, the school has been using Cornerstone Learning todevelop a platform designed to reach its professional staff at scale and anywhere in the world. And when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was clear that the commitment to perfecting ASU’s platform paid off. Facing Down COVID-19 Disruption One of the biggest challenges that ASU faced in the early days of the pandemic was getting its highly decentralized system to work together. That’s where their learning platform came in handy to help ASU’s employees overcome obstacles in a manageable way. Though the school always had the “undercurrent of the right remote technology in place,” it wasn’t something they ever tried to do at scale, Jillian McManus, D.B.H., Executive Director of Workforce Development and Health, Office of Human Resources at ASU, explained. However, the pandemic taught them that it could be done—and quickly. In a matter of weeks, the school shifted to a virtual learning environment built for staff, offering all training and remote resources via its Cornerstone LMS, which the university branded “CareerEdge.” ASU swiftly added courses on stress management, tips for remote work and other materials to its learning platform. The university introduced documentation guides for staff and rolled out remote training, all in an effort to arm its staff with the tools needed to continue to do their jobs effectively. Suddenly, people who had never used the platform before were logging on and accessing these resources. People who had already been fairly familiar with it were using it in new ways, according to Kevin Salcido, VP HR/CHRO at ASU. And, when the social unrest following the murder of George Floyd unfolded, CareerEdge once again helped staff find the support it needed with courses and information around diversity, empathy and bias. The University of the Future As ASU continues to navigate academic life through COVID-19 and beyond, Salcido said the school has three priorities that have proven incredibly valuable over the past few months: continued communication, collaboration and compassion. Moving forward, Salcido says the school will double down on being transparent with students and staff about changes, work across departments to ensure decisions are made thoughtfully and, perhaps most importantly, remain sensitive during this difficult transitional time. But, with all that in mind, Salcido wants to keep moving fast. It’s essential for innovation, he explained: “Something we realized is some of the decisions that would have taken organizations years to implement took us just weeks to make happen because we had no choice. We had to act quickly.” And he doesn’t want to go back to how it was before—and Salcido’s fellow presenters echoed his sentiment. McManus, for example, oversees a counseling service at ASU, and said she’d been thinking about offering remote teletherapy for years. During the pandemic, she was able to deploy a remote option in just three weeks—and also wants to see more of that fast-paced innovation. “Anybody that’s been with us for more than a minute knows that innovation is what we’re all about. The silver lining of this situation is that we all get it on a cellular level; it’s not just a philosophy. We can’t lose that. We’re going to continually innovate and move quickly,” McManus said. To view the full webinar and learn more about ASU’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Webinar Recap: To Weather Turbulent Times, Implement An LMS
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Webinar Recap: To Weather Turbulent Times, Implement An LMS

The beginning of a pandemic hardly feels like the best time to introduce new technology or leverage existing tools in new ways, yet for Florida’s Collier County Board of County Commissioners and for Massachusetts’ Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the timing actually worked out. Not only did their learning management systems enable both agencies to overcome various aspects of COVID-19 disruption, but they were also so effective that they’re now poised to play critical roles in the organizations’ future plans. For Collier County Florida Board of County Commissioners HR manager Erin S. Thoresen, using their existing LMS to introduce virtual onboarding helped solve a critical onboarding challenge. When social distancing recommendations and a mandatory stay-at-home order made in-person orientation nearly impossible, Thoresen and her team leaned on Collier University to welcome new employees and set them up for success. Meanwhile, MassDOT’s Director of Education, Development and MassDOT University Mike McDonald used the LMS, which they named The Learning Hub, as a tool for employee development at a time when many workers were forced to stay home and off the job. Both shared how leaning on an LMS helped them weather the initial shock of COVID-19 shutdowns and explored the role that the technology continues to play as states slowly begin to re-open in a recent webinar, Talent Management Strategies for Agencies in Turbulent Times. The key takeaway? If you’re on the fence about implementing an LMS, there’s no better time than now. Collier County Uses LMS for Remote Onboarding Since implementing its LMS, which it branded as Collier University, Collier County has primarily been using the tool for compliance training, such as its Human Resources and Environmental Health and Safety requirements. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many employees to work from home until further notice, Collier University took on a new role. In the past, orientation was conducted on-site and lasted two days for Collier County’s newly hired employees. With the CDC’s social distancing recommendations in place, the agency could only hire nine people at a time, which sufficed in the interim, but wasn’t a long-term solution given the team’s typical hiring volume. So Thoresen’s team shifted focus to leveraging the LMS for orientation. “We turned on a dime and created a curriculum for new employee orientation. We put that in through Collier University and then by the middle of April, we had our first online orientation,” she explained. Her team also continued to check in with new hires using Skype and other remote communication tools, ensuring that they had face-to-face contact and felt supported throughout onboarding. As a result of social distancing recommendations and classroom size no longer serving as limitations for Collier County’s Board of County Commissioners thanks to Collier University, the team did not need to implement a hiring freeze—or even a hiring slowdown. So far, feedback from users has been positive. Not only do new hires feel like they’re getting the information they need, but supervisors also enjoy the efficiency of the experience. Employees are ready to work and prepared with the credentials they need to get started from day one. Plus, by introducing the LMS to new hires from the start, the agency is setting up a culture in which employees know they can turn to the solution for resources. Once Thoresen’s team is able to return to more normal operations post-COVID-19, the LMS will continue to be a key part of the onboarding strategy. “We now have an opportunity to really evaluate the advantages of in-person orientation and online training and find the right balance,” she said. During the Pandemic, an LMS Provides a Growth Opportunity for MassDOT Employees For MassDOT, The Learning Hub, also provided a vital resource during the pandemic—even though the agency implemented it just two weeks before the statewide shutdown. With employees forced to work remotely or not at all, it was a delicate time to roll out the LMS, but MassDOT knew that it could serve as an important tool for staying productive and engaged. Though the solution was intended as a way to centralize compliance and training records, it was important to highlight its other benefits, like personal development, as well. “We had many employees that we had to redeploy, and others that were underutilized.. We were able to find value in the time that may have been wasted otherwise,” McDonald said. To prioritize the learning and development opportunities available in the LMS, McDonald’s team did not use it for any mandatory compliance training for the first two months. Instead, they worked with MassDOT’s HR departments to review more than 2,000 courses available through Cornerstone’s Content Anytime and select some of the most relevant course clusters for various departments, including a dozen courses for remote work enablement. Already, 40% of MassDOT’s 10,000 employees have taken at least one non-mandatory course over the last three months—and many of them have taken up to four. According to McDonald, the adoption rate has been “immense,” and manager endorsement had a lot to do with that. “We did many live demonstrations of the tool with managers, because we knew we needed their buy-in. We’ve done a lot of surveys, and we knew that managers’ top dissatisfaction with the old system was the inability to get information quickly so we highlighted that this would be a benefit this time around,” he said. Indeed, the LMS has enabled a great deal of communication across the agency, with various departments reaching out to McDonald to access the LMS. “Departments we had never communicated with reached out to us about putting assets online. We had teams recording empty room classes that they wanted to then broadcast out, so we quickly became a vital part of response to the crisis,” he said. Widespread familiarity with the tool and its capabilities was an early goal for McDonald, and his team succeeded—more than 80% of the organization now know about the LMS and use it in various ways, from onboarding to elearning and more. As both Collier County and MassDOT continue to evolve their use of the LMS, both Thoresen and McDonald said that the key to getting initial buy-in—from both users and executives in the C-suite—is making the advantages clear. “Get allies and make the case for return on investment,” McDonald urged. “It all worked out for us because we made the right business case,” Thoresen agreed. “We had a solution for an urgent problem.”   To view the full session on demand, click here.Â

Why Creating a Learning Culture Is an Opportunity for Change
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Why Creating a Learning Culture Is an Opportunity for Change

Have you noticed that over the past year, conversations around major incidents of unconscious bias and sexual harassment have almost always included learning as part of the solution? It's more important than ever to create a culture of learning within our workplaces, because only through a culture of learning can we adopt new mindsets, behaviors and skills that make workplaces inclusive for everyone. And who better than learning practitioners to lead this charge within their organizations? There have been countless articles reporting the same thing: employees expect learning as part of their daily jobs. And as learning practitioners, we need to embrace this opportunity and truly elevate ourselves into a strategic position within the company. Embracing this opportunity, however, can be challenging. I get it. I've been in your shoes. I've previously been an L&D practitioner, a learning consultant and have built and delivered courses for global organizations. Whatever challenges you have with creating a culture of learning, I've likely have them, too. Here's what I've learned along the way: Get Out of Your Own Way Sometimes we, as L&D practitioners, can be our own worst enemy. Historically, learning practitioners have rooted our value-add in the complex learning programs we've built for our organizations. Yet those programs are often misguided—we over-architect and over complicate them, which alienates our employees and complicates our ability to gain strategic buy-in. Instead, we need to focus on creating intuitive and simple learning programs. Learning programs shouldn't focus on the theory of learning, but the practical implementations for employees. Remember, learning builds trust among employees, so build programs with your employees in mind and focus on their needs. As much as we'd like to think that people are motivated to learn because they are told to, or even expect it as part of their jobs, we still need to make content relevant to them. The content within our learning programs should allow every employee to find meaning and tie the ideas presented to pre-existing knowledge, which will drive natural behavioral change. At the end of the day, to truly create a learning culture, we need to get out of our own way and focus on simple learning. We need to realize that our value-add isn't creating programs; it's enabling people to achieve business goals. Think practically about what works, and what drives business goals: This is ruthless relevance. Let it be your north star as you build programs to support the organization. In business, we don't have the luxury of learning for the sake of learning. We learn to grow and be agile. Modern Content for a Modern Workforce Learning content isn't what it used to be. While I cannot say that the days of cheesy content are fully gone, modern learning approaches are quickly becoming the norm. From a quick Google search to watching a three-minute YouTube video to attending a webinar, there is learning content everywhere. According to Google, there are 500 million views of learning-related content and one million learning videos shared on YouTube every day. We must act as curators in addition to content creators. We must help our people by sourcing the best content that aligns to our goals. This means ensuring that the content we invest in is high-quality, engaging, insightful and easily consumed. We are serving a sophisticated population of content consumers. One way to help ensure you're creating modern content is to use a modern process. Implement an agile framework that has been tested and validated. Rather than over-architecting another learning program, create short-form content that can be adjusted after deployment. The goal here is speed. Identify a viable product, deploy it and build in feedback loops as well as review cycles to improve it on the fly. Give People the Learning They Crave Keep in mind, high viewership of virtual content isn't a threat to formal L&D—it's a call to action and a model we should understand and utilize to build engaging content and foster a learning culture. Employees want an opportunity to learn. This is our chance to help them thrive and grow. So, let's focus on creating a learning culture that fosters a growth mindset. Photo: Creative Commons

Why Purpose-Driven Talent Practices Matter
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Why Purpose-Driven Talent Practices Matter

As organizations navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s one guiding star they must rally around: purpose. It’s no secret that purpose matters to business leaders, employees and consumers—it can motivate candidates to work for a company, make work experience more satisfying and even encourage consumers to be more forgiving when mistakes happen. You might think that during a crisis—like say, a global pandemic or major economic upheaval— organizational purpose would become less of a priority. However, it’s in times of crisis that purpose becomes more essential than ever. In the report, “The Purpose-Driven Organization: HR’s Opportunity During Crisis and Beyond,” RedThread Research reveals being purpose-driven can make the difference between an organizational culture that crumbles under pressure, or one that thrives. In the infographic below, RedThread and Cornerstone illustrate how purpose-driven organizations are self-reinforcing systems, what it means to embody purpose and how to ensure that purpose aligns with business priorities. To learn more about becoming a purpose-driven organization, read RedThread Research’s full report here.

Why Working With Your Hands Is Key to Creativity in the Workplace
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Why Working With Your Hands Is Key to Creativity in the Workplace

What comes to mind when you think of creativity at work? Is it candy walls, arcade games and open spaces for collaboration and play, or is it something more than that? In the business world, creativity is crucial to driving continuous innovation and big ideas. But, all too often, companies confine creativity to team-building activities and off-sites rather then embedding it deeper into the company culture. Van Lai-DuMone, CEO and founder of WorksmART, is on a mission to change that. WorksmART combines skills training with hands-on creative experiences to help companies such as Google, NBC Universal, TEDxLA and our very own Cornerstone OnDemand change the way they embrace creativity. We caught up with Lai-DuMone after she hosted a workshop at our most recent professional Development Day to find out more about how companies can infuse creativity and play into their workplace culture. How can companies bring creativity into their day-to-day activities? LEGO Serious Play or any type of creative, hands-on work where you're allowing people to think with their hands is a good first step. We're not asking [companies] to transform; we're asking them to make a 20 percent shift from what they are already doing. At your next meeting, bring in LEGO bricks, bring in markers, bring in watercolors and just try to think with your hands. Go around the room, ask a question or pose a problem and have everyone try to build or draw their idea. They don't have to be artists—this is not about creating art; this is about people getting their ideas out in a different tactile way and honoring diversity of thought. How does LEGO Serious Play work? To participate in LEGO Serious Play, you pose a question or problem that you are trying to solve and everyone builds a model, or several models, of their ideas using LEGO bricks. Then everybody shares. This way, you're not just getting ideas from two or three people—you're getting ideas from every single person at the table, before you come to any type of consensus or add criteria. [Once you've seen all the options,] you can take a look at them and figure out which ones best the solve the problem, answer your challenge or help you innovate on a new product. Why is thinking with your hands so important to unlocking creativity? The whole idea of thinking with your hands (in other words, making something with your hands) is that you're activating parts of your brain that you just cannot access by thinking and speaking. So, you are really generating new ideas, processes and neural connections that allow you to come up with new ideas and perspectives. You're also giving yourself a way to externalize your thoughts. You're actually building a model that you can now show, rather than trying to explain ideas out of your head. As far as honoring diversity of thinking, everyone is uniquely creative. We all have unique ideas, and all of our ideas are valid, so through LEGO Serious play or other hands-on work, everyone gets to build and share their ideas. What is one of the biggest challenges companies face when trying to encourage more creativity? How can they overcome it? One of the challenges is something called creative chaos. That's when you're looking around the room, and there's paint everywhere and someone has suggested something wild and crazy, and you're just thinking "Wow, this is really not what I expected. This is giving me a little bit of anxiety, and this is not what I'm used to." Creative chaos is the point where you have no idea if what you are doing is going to work. Innovation is hard for some companies because when they hit that creative chaos, they stop because it looks ugly. It looks like it might not work, but instead of going back, push through it and get to the other side, because that's where innovation is going to happen. Header photo: Creative Commons

Why You Need a New Strategy for Retaining Female Talent
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Why You Need a New Strategy for Retaining Female Talent

There are big changes coming to American companies. While many business leaders look to the economy for trends and forecasts — closely following any promising signs as we recover from the 2008 crisis — there's another change brewing right under their noses. And it doesn't take knowledge of the stock market to understand. The change is a massive shift in workplace demographics. Four shifts, in fact: Women are leaving the corporate world; nearly half of Americans will be retiring from the workforce in the next decade; minorities are now the majority; and freelancing is the new 9-to-5. Is your organization prepared for the shifts to come? Developing successful organizational strategies is hard enough, but if you develop a strategy without understanding workforce demographics, you're shooting in the dark. This is the first post in a series exploring each demographic trend. Here, a closer look into the first of four: How will the changing gender dynamics of corporate America impact the workforce, and what can you do to prepare? Women Are Becoming Your Competition After years of bumping their heads on glass ceilings, women have had enough of the corporate world. In fact, studies show that more than half of women who start out in Fortune 500s leave before they reach the executive level. Women who leave large companies often join upstart competitors or become new competitors by launching their own businesses. As of 2010, there were more than 8 million women-owned businesses in the U.S, and women-owned firms were growing at twice the rate of all other groups. Why are women leaving? In 2012, women held 14.3 percent of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies, yet were paid only three-quarters of what their male colleagues earned. The wage gap does not reflect a skills or needs gap: Today, young women are just as likely as men to hold a bachelor's degree, 50 percent more likely to have a graduate degree and more than 40 percent are their families' main breadwinners. So, why does this matter? Gender Diversity Improves Performance One reason your organization should pay attention to gender demographics at work is purely economical. Two recent high-profile studies have found that having even just one woman on a company's board correlates with significantly better performance. Credit Suisse evaluated more than 2,400 global corporations over eight years and found that large-cap companies with at least one woman on their boards outperformed comparable companies with all-male boards by 26 percent. Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with women on their boards had significantly higher returns on equity (53 percent), better sales (42 percent), and a two-thirds greater ROI than companies with all-male boards. Female leadership is not a "nice-to-have." It's a must-have for companies to survive and thrive. Organizations that understand the value of diversity need to step up to the plate if they want to attract and retain women. Here, three tips for creating a structure for gender parity success at your company: How to Retain Female Talent 1. Start a formal mentoring program. People tend to network and develop mentorships with people of their own gender. If men have more opportunity for leadership roles and they network with other men, men will continue to dominate leadership roles. Women, who have mentors with less clout and are sponsored significantly less than men, need access to mentors and sponsors of both genders. 2. Institute flexible work arrangements. Fear of negative career consequences, manager skepticism, excessive workload and a “face time" culture are among the barriers that prevent employees from adopting flexible work arrangements. Set standards for both genders and give managers the training they need to be comfortable managing flextime workers. This removes the barrier for women who are the primary caretakers in their family of children or elderly relatives, which is a significant amount, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It reports women do 54 percent more of childcare than men, and 50 percent of elder-care. 3. Function as a results-only work environment (ROWE), and create formal compensation policies with clear criteria. ROWE-type policies can help with turnover caused by work-life conflict, one of which is family burdens. The traditional solution to work-life challenges is the decision to have women stay home. This reinforces gender inequality, and subtly disadvantages women, particularly mothers. Judging women by the quality of their work rather than whether or not they are physically present can increase retention. When it comes to attracting and retaining women, good intentions aren't enough. You need an action plan to prepare for the future of work, and you need one now. Stay tuned for the next post in this series about how to thrive amid shifting workplace demographics. Photo: Shutterstock

Your Five-Step Wellness Program Checklist for 2017
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Your Five-Step Wellness Program Checklist for 2017

It's that time of year again, and nearly every employer is focused on health plan renewals for 2017. In addition to your health care plan, how will you approach employee wellness and mindfulness in the New Year? I've walked numerous clients through their organization's wellness program "resolutions," and along the way I've developed a set of core questions that are key to developing a budget-friendly, strategic and effective plan. Here are five questions about wellness every company should answer heading into the next year. 1) Do we have an operating plan? As with any business strategy, start with the end in mind. What are your goals for this program? Is it to create a more supportive environment, provide health education, improve health or control costs? Answering these questions can help you decide on a program framework, outline the resources needed and estimate the budget required to write your operating plan. I've identified four main maturity models for wellness that you can use to guide your operating plan: 1) Awareness, 2) Activity, 3) Action and 4) Accountability. Oftentimes, I see companies aiming for "Accountability" results (linking specific health risks to dollars in the form of insurance premiums), but with an "Awareness"-level program (simply promoting the current resources your organization has surrounding health and wellness). Understanding how these models are structured, and what results each level provides will help you set realistic expectations. 2) Who's in charge? The responsibility of wellness programs commonly falls on Human Resources. The problem? Most HR teams already have a full plate and may not have the expertise to develop and manage a program. To avoid confusion and stress, determine who's in charge, whether or not they have time and if the time allotted is sufficient enough to meet the goals of the program. If not, you may want to consider adjusting the program goals or outsourcing some or all of your program management efforts. 3) How will we measure success? You can evaluate the effectiveness of a program from one annual health plan renewal to the next, but you need a baseline. Most companies start small and simply measure participation; others measure health or satisfaction changes via a health assessment or job retention. Regardless of what goals you have set, make sure you have data to demonstrate the goals' rationale, so you can measure progress and success. Typically, if you're not achieving more than 50 percent participation in a program, you are missing the employees who need the most help. You may want to consider how to increase participation (as a side note, "incentives" like a FitBit are not always the best approach). Your program may just need more time to educate the importance of the initiative and how employees and the employer both benefit from its rollout. Remember, a confused mind usually says, “No." 4) Do we have vendors or partners? There are lots of wellness vendors out there providing all kinds of services. Some have health risk assessment tools and online wellness challenge platforms, while others include health coaching programs and on-site biometric screening events. Now, are these just "vendors," or are they real partners? The difference is crucial: A vendor is only interested in your check, while a partner has a vested interest in meeting the goals of your program. A simple way to ensure you have partners is creating a tiered pricing model based on performance. A common oversight is that program participation is not measured against program costs. So what is the actual cost per participant? And is that number acceptable? If you're paying $3.00 per employee per month (PEPM) and you have 20 percent of your employees participating, then your cost is actually $15.00 per participant per month. If employees are participating every other month, your cost is now $30.00 per participant. Be weary of “PEPM" pricing models, because they often do not speak to utilization. At the end of the day, when you pay for “PEPM" programs, the vendor is paid a set amount, regardless of their success. 5) How will we fund the wellness program? There are many ways to get creative when it comes to funding wellness programs today, and it doesn't always have to be out of the employer's pocket. I see insurance companies stepping in and providing annual “wellness credits," benefit consultants embedding wellness into the overall healthcare budget and even new private exchanges embedding free wellness services for their members. Be resourceful and don't let your organizations wellness budget be the sole dictator of your program's depth. Bottom line, if you come to the table with a solid plan , someone in charge to keep it on track, baseline data for future evaluation and partners working with you instead of vendors working for you, then you will have an “investment summary" ready to present as a business case—whether internally or externally—for the next year of your worksite wellness program. Cheers to a successful year! Photo: Twenty20

How ASU kept their learning culture strong during profound disruption
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How ASU kept their learning culture strong during profound disruption

A strong workplace culture is not easy to maintain during "normal" circumstances. According to Gallup, “only 23% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization's values to their work every day.” During profound disruption, its critical to maintain institutional culture through supportive leadership, empathetic communication and a focus on learning and growth. Join us for a discussion with HR and IT leadership from Arizona State University, detailing their response to disruption, how it caused them to reframe their thinking about training and development for over 30,000 employees, and their plans for maintaining a strong culture into the future. Specifically, you will learn: - How a lean and highly decentralized institution reacted to disruption - How the pandemic impacted their training and development initiatives and cultural philosophy - Leaderships top lessons learned and top 3 priorities for moving into the future How the crisis changed the way they think about HR technology

Future of Work Requires a Connected Experience
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Future of Work Requires a Connected Experience

Work is changing. Rapidly. Dramatic shifts in human skill sets are already underway, and the need for organizations to reset for growth is critical. At the same time people are seeking a career path and an opportunity to actually change their lives – to develop new skills, new careers, and to find acceptance, purpose and belonging. The ability for your organization and people to respond quickly to changing and uncertain conditions is essential. And yet, traditional people management strategies aren’t keeping up. Nor are these strategies providing people the personalized work experience they crave. Making matters worse, the sheer volume of competing HR systems and tools are creating more silos and more complexity. There is literally a tool for every problem you could ever imagine. Yet organizations are still struggling — to get scale in their employee value propositions, and to align their people to growth and transformation. In this webinar, guest speaker David Johnson, principal analyst with Forrester Research, will discuss how to create a work experience that makes your people want to stay and grow with your organization. He’ll share how to identify systemic factors in current employee journeys that may be inhibiting the performance and growth of your people, and how to deliver individualized and self-driven experiences at scale. You’ll learn how to: Design a meaningful work experience aligned to organizational priorities Enable and empower managers to coach for growth Be intentional with reskilling Use technology to deliver rather than shape your people management strategy

Reuniting: the science of rebuilding connection + trust
Webinar
On-demand Webinar

Reuniting: the science of rebuilding connection + trust

As the world opens up and we come back together, we'll need to navigate new territory in our work relationships. While we have been sustaining our team connections and productivity as we work from home, we have been slowly creating new norms and styles of engagement. In this session, discover what neuroscience tells us about what helps teams thrive and why we need to be particularly mindful as we emerge from isolation. Learn strategies you can implement right away to create more collaboration, inclusion, and peak performing teams in your organization. Join Dr. Britt Andreatta, author of Wired to Connect, shares some groundbreaking new research on the science of connection and trust. As the former Chief Learning Officer for Lynda.com, she consults with organizations around the world on how to maximize their learning solutions to yield phenomenal results. Her research on the brain science of success has transformed the talent industry. In this interactive session, you will: Learn about the science of groups and teams The brain during isolation and loneliness The power of connection and trust Discover new brain-based strategies you can apply to Rev-Up your skills About the speaker: Dr. Britt Andreatta is an internationally recognized thought leader who uses her unique background in leadership, neuroscience, psychology, and education, to create brain-science based solutions for today’s workplace challenges. Britt is the former CLO for Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) and she has over 10 million views worldwide of her online courses. She regularly consults with corporations, universities, and nonprofit organizations on leadership development and learning strategy. Britt is the author of several brain science-based books and trademarked models including Wired to Grow, Wired to Resist, and Wired to Connect. She was named a Top 20 Influencer for 2021.

Cornerstone Performance: Connect employee goals with business outcomes
Datasheet

Cornerstone Performance: Connect employee goals with business outcomes

Ensuring that all of your people are motivated and engaged can be challenging. You need them to find purpose in what they’re doing while aligning that purpose with your organization’s goals. With its detailed insights into your talent landscape, Cornerstone Performance helps you quickly identify and mobilize employees to solve your organization’s top priorities.

Cornerstone Learning: A complete learning experience for everyone
Datasheet

Cornerstone Learning: A complete learning experience for everyone

Today’s ever-changing business conditions require you to be adaptable, drive productivity, and continue to test the resiliency and growth of your organization. To reach the level of agility today demands, you need to connect your people’s success to your organization’s success. With Cornerstone Learning, you can deliver modern learning at scale to your people. And when you can connect your people, data, content, and systems, you’ll optimize your continuous talent development.

Build a resilient and skilled workforce
Whitepaper

Build a resilient and skilled workforce

How we live, work, socialize, and learn is changing. Skills and roles are rapidly shifting. Developing talent today requires more flexibility to meet the evolving nature of work and skills. So to ensure your organization’s success today and going forward, you need a new model that empowers employees with tools for setting and developing meaningful goals and growth pathways. Cornerstone Xplor is that model. Download this report to learn more about Cornerstone Xplor and how it revolutionizes the way organizations and their people learn, grow, and evolve their skills.

Cornerstone Extended Enterprise: Reimagine how you engage your customers and partners
Datasheet

Cornerstone Extended Enterprise: Reimagine how you engage your customers and partners

The rapidly evolving world of work requires you to be dynamic and adaptable. How you align critical stakeholders to your organization is now an even more significant organizational demand. Built to be as flexible and unique as your business, Cornerstone Extended Enterprise helps you scale your organization and ensure your external audiences are informed and adopting your latest offerings.

Cornerstone Xplor walk-through
Video

Cornerstone Xplor walk-through

The world of work requires a new approach to help employees upskill. Cornerstone Xplor helps to put the right insight and tools in your hands so you can do more to create a workplace that works for everyone. With Cornerstone Xplor — you can have a more connected, more progressive work system with a deeply personalized experience that empowers each individual to adapt, grow, and succeed together.

Saba Cloud Learning: Deliver continuous, personalized learning for everyone
Datasheet

Saba Cloud Learning: Deliver continuous, personalized learning for everyone

Training, skills, mobility, and succession are what drive the success of your people and organization. With Saba Cloud Learning, you can put employees in the driver’s seat of their development and align learning with your organization’s goals and strategies to increase performance, stay competitive, and improve employee engagement.

Content Anytime: Content that evolves as quickly as the world of work
Datasheet

Content Anytime: Content that evolves as quickly as the world of work

The skills required to be relevant and successful in business are constantly evolving. To keep up, Cornerstone Content Anytime subscriptions are designed to help you equip and engage your people with today’s most desired skills, building better communicators, stronger leaders, and higher functioning teams. Boost performance with modern content and a learning experience personalized for each learner.

New Belgium engaging the right job candidates
Case Study

New Belgium engaging the right job candidates

New Belgium found the right candidates faster, enabled collaborative hiring, and support company growth with Cornerstone. New Belgium Brewing is a nationally renowned craft brewery that produces high-quality, Belgian-inspired beers. In just over two decades, New Belgium has grown to become the third-largest craft brewery in the U.S. The company is recognized as one of Outside magazine’s “Best Places to Work” and one of the Wall Street Journal’s “Best Small Businesses.” New Belgium is known for its high involvement culture—employees receive benefits such as paid sabbaticals and trips to Belgium after milestone anniversaries. The company’s unique management style makes the sourcing and recruiting process more intensive, as supporting this environment requires evaluating both a candidate’s skill and their potential fit within the company’s culture. As an added challenge, the company’s recent growth— construction of a second brewery in Asheville, North Carolina, and an expansion of their sales force—means recruiters must increase sourcing efforts while simultaneously reducing time to hire. Why Cornerstone With Cornerstone Recruiting, New Belgium found a highly configurable, integrated solution that is flexible enough to adapt to the company's existing recruiting process. The solution also will easily expand with the company as business and workforce needs increase. "One of the most important aspects of Cornerstone Recruiting is its flexibility," said Greg Churchman, talent sage for New Belgium. "Every organization is different in how they recruit. The recruiting solution adapts to us." With Cornerstone Recruiting, New Belgium can go beyond merely tracking and evaluating candidates, to creating ready talent pools, building custom career sites and leveraging employee referrals. New Belgium is currently integrating Cornerstone Recruiting with Cornerstone Learning, Cornerstone Connect and Cornerstone Performance, key to managing the entire employee lifecycle. The Results Find the right people for the right jobs, in less time. With the Cornerstone Recruiting, New Belgium can find candidates who are both a skill and cultural match much faster. “We’re fortunate to get 200 to 300 applicants for any job opening. Our challenge is how we get through those applicants to find the people who really want to work here and self-select into our culture,” said Jennifer Briggs, HR director for New Belgium. “Cornerstone enables us do that in less time, which means we have more time to engage with the right candidates.” Enable hiring collaboration. Hiring new employees is a team effort at New Belgium, and company leaders rely on the recruiting solution to support collaboration on candidate assessments. "Our teams across the country can now work together to make joint hiring decisions,” said Briggs. "When we hire people, we have teams of people who look at applicants to say, 'should we hire that person into our team?' Even if we have a remote team of five people, that team is able to collaborate. They can see the same data and operate from the same place." Review remote candidates and support hiring needs throughout current and future expansions. With a growing national sales force and expansion into a second brewery thousands of miles away, New Belgium relies on Cornerstone Recruiting to engage with and review remote candidates. "We're looking to add some wonderful salespeople to grow our brand across the country,” said Briggs. "Cornerstone provides us with a one-stop-shop to source and recruit great candidates, independent of their location or ours."

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

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.

San Jacinto College: How recruiting, learning, and performing through a pandemic can be done well
Case Study

San Jacinto College: How recruiting, learning, and performing through a pandemic can be done well

San Jacinto College has served the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. San Jacinto College is among the top 10 community colleges in the nation as designated by the Aspen Institute for Community College Excellence and was named an Achieving the Dream Leader College of Distinction in 2020. The College serves approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students annually and offers more than 200 degrees and certificates across eight major areas of study that put students on a path to transfer to four-year institutions or enter the workforce. While the COVID-19 crisis dramatically impacted many industries, higher education faced stronger headwinds than most. Despite pressure from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other online learning programs, digital adoption in higher ed remained low — a study conducted by Educause showed only 5% of college budgets are dedicated to IT spending. And before the pandemic, only one-third of college students in the U.S. had any online course experience — meaning not only students but also faculty members have been experiencing a major adjustment in a short timeframe. When the time came to move to an online-only model, it showed. But there are some exceptions. San Jacinto Community College is one institution that has been able to take the pandemic in stride thanks to its pre-pandemic digital investments. Serving the Greater Houston community, the college is devoted to promoting student success, academic progress, university transfer, and employment. It’s spread across five different campuses in Texas — one of which the college was able to open even despite the pandemic-related challenges. And that’s because, instead of scrambling to implement a digital infrastructure like most other higher ed institutions, the college was able to stick to its business roadmap, including making critical leadership hires. “COVID has slowed us down a little bit, but I don’t think we’ve seen that big downturn,” said Wayne Wauters, manager of talent acquisition, of their hiring. And that’s thanks in large part to one of those digital investments. While San Jacinto knew that offering digital tools and services was non-negotiable for students, the college also saw an opportunity to innovate for its faculty and staff. So in 2016, the college adopted Cornerstone’s tools for hiring and recruiting, learning, and development. By digitizing these three areas of the college’s operations, San Jacinto was able to improve processes, effectively transition its staff to remote work, and provide learning and development resources that made the transition easier for faculty. And as a result, the college was able to continue — rather than delay — its growth path. Revolutionizing recruiting across roles and campuses The major driver behind San Jacinto’s search for a new technology partner was its complex recruiting needs. “One of the challenges in higher education is that we have so many different types of positions,” says Wauters. That’s especially true for San Jacinto, with its staffing needs extending across multiple locations. What’s more, each different type of hire requires different processes and involves different stakeholders. “Instead of having a central group of recruiters,” Wauters says, “people who have a staffing need usually participate in the hiring.” San Jacinto needed a system that managed a large volume of applicants and open positions, allowed for a variety of hiring workflows, and was easily accessible by all staff — including those who had never been involved in the hiring process before. “Cornerstone Recruiting was the only solution that accommodated our varied needs,” Wauters said. In addition to improving internal processes, Cornerstone Recruiting offered a better experience for candidates. Before using Cornerstone, applicants had to wrestle with multiple fields and arbitrary character limits, which, all told, took about 45 minutes to fill out. The average drop-off of new applicants from the old system was high. Wauters estimates that the number of applicants that fill out an application has at least doubled since the college partnered with Cornerstone. In 2019 alone, three years after having Cornerstone, the college made approximately 250 full-time hires. When