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Cornerstone Data Tells a Story: Online Learning Is Key as Organizations Shift to a New World of Work

Heidi Spirgi

Chief Strategy and Growth Officer at Cornerstone

As people navigate a new world of work, there has never been a greater demand for learning opportunities. In the many roles I personally play in life—leader, mother, wife, friend—it has been no easy task learning how to support my team at Cornerstone and help pivot the business while caring for loved ones at home and from afar. Like many others, I’ve come to realize that connecting with teammates virtually, managing our time effectively and balancing work and life are skills that need to be developed and nurtured over time. And in a moment of time where many of us are either struggling to focus at home or finding it difficult to check out from work without an office, it’s critical that we reassess our skill sets and make time for our personal and professional development.

For the past two decades, Cornerstone has been helping organizations recruit, hire, train and manage their people. At the core of these initiatives has been online learning and development. Whether providing compliance training or helping employees enhance their skills, we’ve been collecting learning data from millions of people over the years, which has enabled us to pull key insights and trends about how people are learning, what they’re learning and how that has changed over time. While we’ve used this data to inform our product decisions and roadmap, you’re going to see us bring this data to life through the Cornerstone People Research Lab. This is our new research lab within Cornerstone that is going to be identifying and sharing emerging trends that will give rise to new work models.

The launch of the Cornerstone People Research Lab couldn’t have come at a more impactful time. As COVID-19 completely disrupts the world of work as we know it, we have seen a greater demand for online learning from organizations and their people. New insights from Cornerstone data suggest organizations are relying on online learning to help their people adapt to new work models, such as remote working, and enable them to become more productive and efficient while staying healthy during this uncertain time.

In March alone, people across the globe engaged with 27.5 million hours of content on Cornerstone’s learning platform. And, when looking at our Cornerstone Learning clients, nearly half (40%) of them saw an increase in logins in March compared to February. These clients experienced a significant spike in logins, 135% on average. What’s more is that we’re seeing this trend across both the corporate and academic sectors, which is particularly meaningful as millions of students and teachers transition to online learning for the first time.

As we collectively navigate this new world of work, I invite you to explore the data that tells a meaningful story around the need—and want—for individuals and organizations to adapt in the face of change.

What Does the Data Say?

While digging into the learning trends in response to the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen a heavy increase in search activity, a notable rise in mobile learning and an increase in repeat visits—all of which show that the demand—and potential—for online learning is greater than ever before.

On top of the uptick in logins on the Cornerstone Learning platform, we’re also seeing an increase in people taking online courses, especially in those countries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands saw a 2X increase in course registrations; South Korea saw a 5X increase; and Japan saw a dramatic increase at 70X from February to March.

While the upward trend is significant, it’s not entirely shocking. Let me tell you why. There’s an incredible amount of knowledge and skills we all need to acquire to adjust to any form of new realities, whether that’s onboarding for a new role or learning how to manage a remote team for the first time. Learners are hungry for ways to set themselves up for success—whether it’s picking up best practices for virtually communicating with coworkers, useful time-management tips or smart ways to stay healthy while working from our couches and kitchen tables (which just so happen to be among the most popular courses taken in March 2020).

Searches for online courses on digital tools, working and learning remotely and stress management have dramatically increased on the Cornerstone Learning platform. For example, comparing the first half of March to the second half, there was a 3x increase in searches for "Google Classroom," a 2x increase in searches for "Learning at Home" and a 1.7x increase in searches for "Stress Relief." Employees aren’t simply waiting around for guidance; instead, they’re taking learning into their own hands to better navigate new work environments and take care of their mental health. And studies suggest that this kind of learning—done in the flow of work, to meet an immediate need—increases learning retention.

Now more than ever, employees need the flexibility to learn anywhere, and anytime, rather than in one-size-fits-all Powerpoint presentations, mandatory lectures or multi-hour courses in conference rooms. And our data from the last month backs this up: Without many of the constraints associated with an office environment, workers are actually taking more time to learn and doing so in ways that fit their unique schedules and preferences. Mobile logins increased by 3x in one week at the end of March, and usage from the Cornerstone Learn app continues to increase significantly month over month in 2020, up 45% in March over February.

Let’s Prepare for a New World of Work

We can see that individuals and organizations are clearly ready to take advantage of online learning courses that will help them improve their work and their lives.

In fact, according to a survey of 900 telecommuting professionals done in partnership with YouGov, a global public opinion and data company, Cornerstone found that 60% of respondents prefer remote work and will expect a remote work option to be offered as a benefit after re-entry. Organizations will need to be prepared for that expectation of flexibility—even though many hadn’t necessarily before COVID-19. But only about half of those same respondents stated that their employer had preparations in place for them to transition to remote work.

Rather than fight this evolution, companies should lean into the opportunity to create a more agile workforce that can weather future crises and downturns. A renewed focus on learning, including thoughtful online resources and development opportunities, is what’s going to help businesses—and all of us as human beings—thrive.

For more insights on the state of work and learning in the future sourced from millions of workers across the Cornerstone Learning platform, visit:

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