How Wells Fargo created a culture of self-directed learning

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Wells Fargo is a leading financial services company that serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of small and mid-market businesses.

In 2019, the financial industry titan set an ambitious goal to transform learning and employee development for the organization and its over 255,000 employees. They developed a mantra of “go big or go home” to remind them that although the task was big, it was worth doing right. And that meant finding the right learning management and content provider.

The team at Wells Fargo had a list of criteria:

  • Build a modern learning experience
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Increase productivity
  • Facilitate talent mobility
  • Create process efficiencies
  • Enable change management

After an exhaustive search, more so than any other option, Cornerstone Learning and Cornerstone Content Anytime checked every box on their list. But they didn’t know that the products checked boxes they hadn’t even made yet.

When the year 2020 hit, the ability to change and be agile suddenly became more important than they ever imagined. Within two weeks, over 200,000 Wells Fargo employees pivoted to remote work.

And thanks to Cornerstone, the quick change and lean into learning helped employees and the company thrive during a time of turmoil.

Change management lead to surprising results

Many organizations had trepidation about moving to a remote work environment. How would they create accountability?

Luckily, thanks to Wells Fargo’s partnership with Cornerstone, they had the tools for change management. They engaged employees with learning that was already in place.

And their employees took to it quickly and thoroughly.

“What was so interesting is that usage and engagement in [Cornerstone Content Anytime] content, where we might have expected to see a dip in engagement, we actually saw it continue to rise,” said Sarah Foster-Kostis, business initiative consultant at Wells Fargo.

The message from their employees was clear: “We saw our learners want more content. They wanted more development. They wanted professional learning experiences.”

The world was changing, and employees saw it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop in their careers.

Homework assignments aren’t needed

With Cornerstone Learning, Wells Fargo employees set their own learning assignments. The engaging learning courses had their learners clicking “next course” over and over again.

“Over 50% of our learners have taken 11 plus courses. Think of how many people that is! We’re talking well over 60,000 people,” said Foster-Kostis. It added up to tens of thousands of course completions every month.

Of the courses taken by employees, 73% were self-directed learning. Foster-Kostis marveled that one month saw upwards of 90% of courses taken voluntarily.

“What that really told us is: As people were starting to take the content and see value in it, they just kept taking more courses and finding things that were really going to enhance their learning experiences,” she said.

Cornerstone provides critical support and partnership

Wells Fargo chose Cornerstone as their vendor for many reasons, chief among them our modern learning experience and top-tier content. But it was the offer of a true partnership that clinched the decision.

“We could not have done what we’ve done to help our learners without our critical partnership with the customer’s success and content experience teams,” said Foster-Kostis.

Together, Wells Fargo and their Cornerstone support team regularly review opportunities to increase engagement. They look for trends and opportunities to optimize the learning experience.

And when they have content ideas, they pitch them.

Foster-Kostis explains, “We proposed ideas for content operations. We submit ideas regularly to the curation team for future content playlists, and within a matter of months, we see content on those critical topics. That’s been key for us. And of course, we’re always analyzing data, reviewing the internal and external trends, and proactively looking at our future opportunities to stay in front of the curve with Cornerstone.”

Leaning into the future with Cornerstone Learning

As Wells Fargo looks to the future, the success of its learning program during the pandemic has sealed the importance of investing in its people.

“For us, for our organization, we believe that individuals are key to long-term success. We want to retain that talent. We want to upskill that talent. We want to have that talent feel successful so that they can learn and grow at our organization,” she said.

Wells Fargo will continue investing in a modern learning experience and content.

“It’s really leaning into Content Anytime courses to support our initiatives, meet learners where they are, and provide that right content at the right time. And that’s really where we want to be successful so that we can ultimately see growth and development.”

And Cornerstone will be with them every step of the way.

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