It’s been roughly two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In those two years, catastrophic changes have affected the job market. According to ILO Monitor, 114 million jobs were lost in 2020 alone. And more recently, the unemployment level globally stands at about 220.5 million people.
While this reality created a grim outlook going into 2021, the businesses that were able to successfully navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic did so by adapting their business strategies to catch up with the high levels of change and brought their people along with them for the monumental transformation.
Now that 2022 is upon us, companies are refocusing their attention on establishing a future-ready organization. One that reimagines new ways of doing work that actually work for everyone – their employees, their customers, their partners, and so on.
So what will companies be focused on this year to get their organization future-ready? Three Cornerstone executives weigh-in on specific trends they’re seeing from the market and from Cornestone’s own customers. From viewing the “Great Resignation” as an opportunity to usher in the “Great Hiring,” to reinforcing skills-based, self-directed learning among their employees, and greater adoption and integration of AI in HR tech, we leave 2021 behind us with renewed energy and excitement for the future of work.
A “Great” Shift: Employee Experience Takes Center Stage in “The Great Hiring”
The ebbs and flows of the global economy caused millions to be displaced from their jobs, which was then followed by a wave of those experiencing a level of ‘career curiosity’, causing them to leave on their own accord. Professional burnout, a lack of visibility into career advancement opportunities and pay discrepancies are all playing a role in an employee’s decision to seek employment elsewhere.
“It is the responsibility of employers, each and every one of us, to ensure we’re level-setting and creating the necessary opportunities for the continued success of our people,” said Kimberly Cassady, Chief Talent Officer at Cornerstone. “To start, companies can no longer forgo providing a clear view of individual career paths within the organization. When an employee is aware of their growth potential within their company, as well as the learning and development opportunities provided to develop new skills (or even experience new roles!), they’ll be more inclined to see a future with the company and stay.”
Take Cornerstone, for example. To maintain employee engagement amid the pandemic, talent leaders designed an environment where employees can meaningfully contribute their talents and grow their skillsets. Starting with our new “Cornerstone Gigs” program, Cornerstone created short-term stretch assignments to allow employees interested in internal mobility the opportunity to expand on existing, transferable skills outside of their usual departments. The gigs are posted by other employees or project managers wanting fresh input and hands-on support, with the intention of enhancing or accelerating a particular initiative or business goal. In its first year, the initiative experienced tremendous interest from Cornerstone employees, 250 of which applied to take part, resulting in 75 gig placements throughout the company.
Though opportunities for internal advancement are and should remain a priority, these solutions won’t solve all open job requisitions. New hires will need to happen to fill the 11 million jobs currently open as a result of The Great Hiring.
“Those businesses offering remote work opportunities will continue to be the ones to attract top talent,” acknowledged Cassady. “Meanwhile, those unwilling to pivot to a remote work environment will need to reconsider their organization’s overall strategic goals and approach to align with the expectations of today’s workforce.”
Targeted Skills-Based, Self-Directed Learning on the Rise
The pace of change in today’s work environment is unparalleled. Due in large part to the ongoing business disruptions and accelerated needs created by the pandemic, 58% of the workforce will require new skills to do their jobs successfully according to a recent Gartner HR Research survey.
Employees across business segments are now feeling pressured to not just hone in on their existing skillsets, but to develop new ones to keep pace with the expectations required of their role or industry. When given the right learning resources, employees are making a more concerted effort to learn new skills in their own time, or what’s known as self-directed learning.
“From 2020 to 2021, there was a four time increase in self-directed course registrations within our content product,” said Summer Salomonsen, VP, Content Product at Cornerstone. “This tells us that not only are learning resources in demand with people leaders, but the individual is now more likely to be seeking courses that will help advance their careers and make them more well-rounded, informed people at work.”
The rise in self-directed learning goes beyond an increase in interest to upskill and reskill to advance their careers as we find employees are also focused on people skills, DEIB training and other empathy-related topics.
“Now more than ever, employees are motivated to learn,” indicated Salomonsen. “We have an opportunity here to offer L&D content that is both easily accessible and relevant, compelling and varied, while also ensuring employees are getting value out of it.”
Cracking the AI code for HR and for People
While AI is increasingly being introduced as a tool for HR departments, including for talent acquisition and L&D opportunities, the technology is not being used to its full potential for the entire workforce. However, the potential is there, according to Ajay Awatramani, Chief Product Officer at Cornerstone.
“The adoption of AI in HR technology will continue to rise as new tools become available and proven in the market,” said Awatramani. “With time, HR leaders will feel empowered to make incredibly important decisions about their business and people, relying on HR data combined with AI-based solutions, and employees will have access to advanced, personalized, consumer-grade tools that help them be more efficient and grow their careers. It’s a win-win situation.”
This is evidenced by Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends study which found “more than 60% of executives say the top HR trend offering impact is using talent analytics to make decisions rooted in data.”
With the right application of machine learning and AI technologies, HR leaders can enable action-oriented talent practices that benefit both employee and organizational growth. For example, AI makes it possible to connect learning to growth by not only identifying skill gaps to fill, but then guiding learners toward relevant content to help close those gaps. AI can also target the right growth opportunities to the right people by using it to surface and assign relevant projects. It’s the power of AI that enables both groups to reach their goals much quicker and with significantly more accuracy.
The HR Industry is Poised for Resilience
While 2021 certainly presented its fair share of challenges, HR has continuously proven its value to the business as the function helped organizations adapt and overcome challenges over the past two years. Here, at Cornerstone, we remain confident in the extraordinary progress already made and the transformative changes expected to be made in the coming year as the future of work is reimagined.
If you’re as invigorated by the opportunities ahead and want to learn how your organization can tap into creating engaging employee experiences, finally connect skills development to career progression and meet the future, ready, check out our guide for talent leaders.
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