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5 Microlessons from HR Innovators at Cornerstone Convergence 2015

Cornerstone Editors

After three days' worth of talent management trends and takeaways at Convergence 2015, our brains are brimming with fresh ideas about the new world of work. Now the question is: With so much to consider, where do you start?

Major forces of transformation like mobile technology, collaborative learning and Big Data are changing the workplace, and transforming HR as we know it. Here, five lightbulb moments from the conference we should all take to heart.

"Like it or not, we're all in sales now."

—Daniel Pink, Bestselling Author

According to a study conducted by Daniel Pink for his latest book, To Sell is Human, we spend nearly half of our workdays trying to move or convince people—whether we're recruiting new employees, pitching our colleagues on an idea or convincing our children to study. So, how do we "sell" people on our ideas successfully? In his keynote at Convergence, Pink highlighted the new ABCs of selling—it's not "Always be closing," but "Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity." You need to understand others' perspectives, grow from failure and explain why something's important (as well as how you'll actually do it).

"[HR] is on the second year of a ten-year data journey."

—Josh Bersin, Founder and Principal, Bersin by Deloitte

When Bersin joined Cornerstone CEO Adam Miller onstage, he reminded the crowd that, while exciting, we're still in the early stages of harnessing the power of Big Data. His invaluable tips for HR departments looking to seize the moment: Create a center of data expertise in your organization, rather than staffing data analysts in disparate departments. And be strategic by focusing your efforts on reaping insights about issues that directly affect revenue.

"The employee of the future has to be committed to lifelong learning—not just one event."

—Annette Thompson, Chief Learning Officer, Farmer's Insurance

In order to stay competitive in 2016, companies will require a 27 percent spike in employee productivity, according to CEB. That's a striking stat, and one that Thompson and her team are addressing by implementing what she calls "a culture of continuous learning." Recognizing that workers—like businesses—must become more agile in order to consistently adapt and innovate, she argues that L&D pros must stop thinking about building learning programs and focus, instead, on transforming employees into lifelong learners. It's a paradigm shift that has precipitated strategic initiatives at Farmer's such as the development of extended learning "campaigns" (rather than one-off classes or modules) and exams that allow employees to gather knowledge via modalities other than coursework (e.g., YouTube).

"[Today's] learners consume media for breakfast."

—Robin Fenner, Global Learning and Development Manager, American Express Global Business Travel

At American Express Global Business Travel, a "startup within a company," the majority of the division's over 15,000 global employees work primarily from home. Determined to radically reinvent L&D for this virtual, mobile-first workforce, Fenner is curating a mix of custom and third-party content using Cornerstone's social collaboration platform. His tactics include a MOOC-style new-hire orientation, slick animated videos and even a full-time social media marketing specialist to keep employees engaged. As he put it: When it comes to learning in the information-soaked 21st century, "bite size is the right size."

"HR needs to be the light, not the lampshade, on employee culture."

—Denise Domian, SVP of Human Resources, The Bon-Ton Stores

In 2006, the Bon-Ton Stores acquired the Northern Department Group from Saks, Inc., doubling its number of stores and tripling its sales. Unfortunately, with that growth came a lack of cultural identity. In response, Domian launched a campaign to redefine the Bon-Ton culture. As she shared, HR has a responsibility to build a bridge between tradition and innovation, not to simply maintain tradition for tradition's sake. To build that bridge, her team surveyed employees to define the company's successes and weaknesses, and then defined a "culture credo" to capture the core elements of Bon-Ton: "Where integrity, innovation, collaboration and passion are always in fashion."

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