Following a traditional career path is no longer a road to success. The reality is that navigating today’s ever-changing work landscape requires a far more proactive, choose-your-own-adventure approach. But companies can—and should—do far more to help provide guidance and opportunities to employees who are figuring out their professional lives.
While it was once relatively common for an employee to work at a single organization for 40 years, rising slowly up the corporate ladder, it’s now rare for workers to spend their entire professional lives at one company. In fact, according to a 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, employees hold an average of 12 jobs in their lifetimes. And this trend will only continue. "Estimates today are that a young person could have 16-17 different jobs across five different industries," says author and future of work strategist Heather McGowan.
Then there are the ripple effects of COVID-19 to consider. Thirty percent of college grads are now rethinking their industry of choice, including moving away from NGOs and fields like hospitality and tourism, according to a recent study. Meanwhile, another 30% are considering taking a gap year. And anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of current employees are switching gears to tackle entirely new roles and responsibilities as company needs and goals have suddenly shifted as a result of the pandemic.
One thing’s for sure: Resumes are going to look a whole lot different moving forward, with skips and hops becoming even more commonplace and widely accepted. Given our volatile working world (further fueled by advances in technology and automation), how can companies help employees create a personalized vision and direction for their future that’s not necessarily tied to a traditional upward trajectory?
Transforming Managers Into Coaches
While frequent job jumping is becoming more of the norm, it’s not only the result of outside forces. Unfortunately, many individuals simply feel disconnected from their work, with 51% actively looking for a new job or watching job openings, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report. Managers have the power to change this; after all, they account for a whopping 70% of variance in employee engagement scores. But moving the needle will require them to take time to focus on the unique strengths and interests of their reports.
As opposed to micromanaging tasks or dwelling on ways to fix individual shortcomings (so that everyone on the team checks the same success boxes), managers should have more regular, in-depth check-ins with employees to discuss their professional goals and challenges as well as projects and positions that might interest them. And instead of formally evaluating, managers must build trust by acting more like coaches: asking open-ended questions, actively listening and guiding individuals toward solutions that play to their strengths. In this way, they’ll encourage individuals to take a more active role in their own development journey while simultaneously honing those workers’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The result? Happier, more engaged employees and greater internal mobility.
And it’s not just the employees who benefit from this adjusted approach. Research shows that organizations whose leaders successfully empower others through coaching are nearly four times more likely to make fast, good decisions and outperform their industry peers. But it will take more than just desire and a serious time investment to make these meaningful conversations and professional relationships possible—and effective.
AI-Powered Digital Coaching Tools
To identify an employee’s various capabilities and provide them with the right development opportunities, companies will greatly benefit from the use of AI-powered digital coaching tools. This smart technology can make recommendations for growth (like relevant training sessions, projects or open roles) based on skills courses that an employee has completed or shown interest in. As a result, that individual may stumble across a position or department they had never considered before but would be a great fit for their talents, keeping them engaged and invested in the company.
This nonlinear path may seem unusual, but today’s workers are motivated by professional growth opportunities and not necessarily a promotion or a bigger paycheck. According to research from Cornerstone, 89% of workers across generations said they would consider making a lateral career move with no financial incentive. Meanwhile, analyst Josh Bersin found that companies who effectively nurture their workforce’s desire to learn are at least 30% more likely to be market leaders over an extended period of time.
By constantly evaluating the skill sets of employees and providing them with continuous opportunities to learn (an approach known as new skilling), companies can not only develop industry-leading talent but also an exceptionally adaptable workforce. But it’s just as important for employees to hone their soft skills as critical as their technical skills. Luckily, XR specialists like Talespin are building immersive learning programs that coach users how to effectively respond in professional scenarios that require empathy, problem-solving and purposeful inquiry, among other leadership skills.
"We're seeing retention of core concepts go up by over 200%, and they typically stick for two to three times as long," says Talespin CEO Kyle Jackson. "People start making different connections than they would have if they had been in e-learning or video- or classroom-based learning."
Paired with more constructive, open-ended conversations with managers, these trail-blazing, AI-driven technologies will help to upskill employees and propel them into challenging, satisfying careers. No roads required.
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Alexander Mann Solutions wins Cornerstone OnDemands sponsored categories at the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards
Here at Cornerstone, we absolutely love to hear inspiring stories and share them far and wide, especially when they are about talent management! We were recently headline sponsors of the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards. These annual awards, hosted by TALiNT International, celebrate excellence across the RPO, MSP and Talent Solutions marketplace, and recognise the wonderful ways companies are demonstrating exemplary growth, innovation and leadership. For 2020, it was the usual great awards with a bit of a difference. As we know, everything has now moved online – even this year’s Convergence! But this didn’t seem to impact the TIARA Talent Solution Awards at all. Despite not being able to celebrate face-to-face, the event was filled with laughter, engagement, and most of all, lots of fun! This year, we also supported the Best Use of Technology Award as well as the Overall Winner. The winner – triumphing in both categories – could not be more deserving, and so we duly wanted to pass on our huge congratulations to Alexander Mann Solutions! Alexander Mann was awarded the Cornerstone OnDemand Best Use of Technology Award for their brilliant ‘Find Your Fit’ technology solution. The platform offers users personal preferences and assisted future growth through interactive videos, personalised one-to-one calls, and a dedicated platform to match skills with current roles within the organisation. The solution had 1,200 employees enrolling within just six months of implementation and is continuing to improve every day. Find Your Fit helps employees to understand how their organisation functions better, including the areas that are growing the most rapidly. In turn, this helps employees to develop the skills they need in order to take advantage of these developments to enhance not only their personal career progression, but overall business performance. After all, businesses don’t innovate, people do! The judges commended this entry for “the clear way in which an innovative technology solution clearly delivered in results”. The judges also applauded Alexander Mann for demonstrating customer care by really listening to client’s individual challenges and using inventive technology solutions to help design a custom built solution that helps to support the overall internal career options and pathways available to each organisation. The award was accepted virtually by Stephen Gordon, Recruitment Tech Lead at Talent Collective/AMS. In addition to being awarded Best Use of Technology, Alexander Mann was also recognised as this year’s overall winner of the Talent Solutions Awards. Chair of Judges, Jim Richardson highlighted that “the overall winner is based on the organisation that consistently demonstrates excellence and innovation across all of its activities”. Both Peoplescout and Guidant Global were highly commended by the judges for their brilliant work, but ultimately, Alexander Mann took home the award for demonstrating consistently high standards across all areas. Jim Richardson added that although Alexander Mann has the resources to support many initiatives, it has still managed to deliver consistently on large scale and complex global projects. This is a phenomenally impressive achievement that all of us at Cornerstone also wish to say a huge congratulations for! The other winners and nominees from this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards have highlighted more excellent work and brilliant stories across the recruiting sector and HR community. For the full list of winners, check out the TALiNT International’s September/October 2020 edition here.
Blog: Why HR need to lead the agile change journey
It's been going on for a while now - the shift towards more agile and flexible companies that quickly can adapt to the fast-changing times of today. Organisations that are unable to make this move are gradually losing competitiveness and finding it more difficult to prove themselves against smaller and faster players. Those who recognise the need and are able to create new conditions for the business, in the form of new structures, will survive and flourish in tomorrow's economic reality. Agile HR can be viewed from two different angles; How HR should work together within the HR team and what / how HR should deliver value to the business for which they exist. All HR processes that are part of Talent and People Management will be different when you start working agile, and each of the processes have their specific tools and working methods. Here we will look at HR from a more general perspective, to get an overall understanding of how the HR role, and the corresponding deliverables, change in a company that wants to increase its business agility. The goal is to focus on creating better workplaces through the development of teams and individuals, throughout the whole organisation. Small and medium-sized companies are easier to change, as they have less hierarchical structures, and often a more decentralised business, where everyone has an ability to make the decisions that need to be made, locally rather than centrally. The larger and more complex a company is, the more systems, processes, and structures there are that cannot be easily and quickly changed. Although it is possible to change a department in the organisation, some issues might remain that forces the department back into the central structures. This happens because it is not possible to isolate a specific part of the business. You can compare it to an attempt to change a rubber ball. It changes when it is being squeezed, but when you let go, it quickly returns to its old shape. However, there is one functional department in most large organisations that can influence all the other parts at once – HR. In many large companies, HR controls; ● Leadership programs and development ● Change management ● Organisational development ● Employee engagement ● Employee training and skills development ● Rewards and bonuses ● Recruitment ● Goal setting and performance reviews ● Long term mix of employees All these processes or areas flow through the entire organisation. These are the structures that can support, or prevent, a more radical change towards a more agile company. It all depends on HOW we work with processes and programs. They can be developed in a way that, paradoxically, prevents performance and commitment. Or they can optimise performance and employee satisfaction. HR struggles with criticisms, it is accused of being some kind of "organisational police", which hinders performance and commitment by implementing Talent management processes in a way that was intended to increase the same. This needs to change. HR has been in the back seat for too long and now it is time to take responsibility for a change in how to support the organisation. Because it is about people, and relationships between people, this is the key to how the company performs as a whole. It is the system that fundamentally needs to change, not the people. We do not need to do more things or implement complicated frameworks and methods. Instead, we need to understand how we can make it easier for people to make their best contribution to the company, by providing supportive structures, instead of hindering structures. It is through more experiments and by trying different working methods, that one can find the best path for each organisation, and each team/individual. Here, the agile principles and the agile mindset serve as a guide. Agile tools and frameworks work sometimes, but not always. The only way to continually improve is through constant learning, which also means that we sometimes fail. Companies that learn faster than others, and turn that knowledge into new ways of working for employees, but also new products and services for external customers, gain a competitive advantage and will be the winner of the future. HR has the power and the ability to design the structures that aim to either support or make it harder for employees to contribute in creative and innovative ways. If HR sticks to the old, traditional ways of working, the consequence will be rigid and non-agile organisations that use inefficient systems and processes. HR can either hinder or support the change, so HR must show the way. By providing opportunities for alternative and more agile working methods, and by focusing on value creation and value flows for the internal and by extension also external customers, HR can lead companies through changes that no other department is capable of. The next blog chapter will dive into HR's changing role.