Blog Post

5 Things the Modern Worker Looks for in Talent Development

Cornerstone Editors

A new wave of employees is reshaping today's workforce. Members of Generation Z are starting their careers, and millennials now make up more than one-third of the U.S. workers—a majority that is expected to rise to 75 percent by 2025. This means that workplace priorities and expectations are shifting as older generations become the minority.

When it comes to learning and development, younger generations have a different outlook and set of priorities than those who have come before them. With the internet at their fingertips, both Gen Z and millennials have grown up with the ability to learn at the click of a button, so it should come as no surprise that on-demand learning is a priority for them at work, as well.

Unfortunately, many modern workers don't feel their organization is up to par—42 percent of millennials say they are likely to leave their company because they aren't learning fast enough. Here are five key things modern workers look for when it comes to talent development opportunities—and tips for attracting and retaining this in-demand talent.

1. Leadership Development Opportunities

Leadership development is incredibly important to both millennials and Gen Z workers. A recent Gallup poll found that 87 percent of millennials say on-the-job development is key. And 36 percent of both millennials and Gen Z rank opportunity for growth as the most important aspect in a first professional job, according to an Adecco survey.

Because these workers are eager to take on leadership roles, organizations need to provide opportunities for career movement along with defined growth paths that employees can follow. Performance management systems that allow employees to participate in development programs, work with managers to set and monitor goals, and keep track of skills gained will be essential for talent retention in the future.

2. Personalized Learning

Millennials are not particularly loyal to their employers. By the end of 2020, two out of every three millennials are expected to move on to a new job, Deloitte's 2016 Millennial Survey found—but there is something that employers can do to prevent this.

Millennials place a high value on flexibility, and want to have control over their own learning experience and career path. Letting employees set individualized learning goals and giving them tools to pursue internal career advancement reinforces feelings of value and respect, and can help bridge this loyalty gap. And technology can help: A learning management system enables workers to easily track progress and achievement.

3. Ongoing Mentorship

Workplace mentorship is a big priority for the modern worker—79 percent of millennials consider it to be crucial for career success. In fact, millennials who plan to stay with a company for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than not, according to Deloitte.

The right learning management system can facilitate mentorship by connecting employees to mentors so they can easily answer questions, provide advice and tackle problems in a productive way.

The modern worker is also eager to participate in peer-to-peer mentoring. Allowing employees to share skills and knowledge with their peers not only helps build strong workplace relationships, but can also be a valuable source of employee-generated content such as short videos, blog posts or forum discussions.

4. Consistent and Constructive Feedback

The annual review is no longer enough for the modern worker. Employees today are looking for more feedback, more frequently. This aligns with their desire for mentorship and personalized learning opportunities.

Plus, organizing online discussion forums or chats can facilitate productive, informal feedback conversations. For example, if an employee poses a question in a group forum that a senior colleague can answer, that employee can quickly get the information needed and get back to work. This type of personalized feedback fosters a culture of continuous development, in which employees can use feedback to stay focused on their daily tasks as well as on long-term goals.

5. Engaging Environment

Much of engagement for modern learners comes down to flexibility, variety and availability of technology. More than 90 percent of Gen Z says technological sophistication would impact their interest in working at a company, so making the most of online learning tools is essential for appealing to this generation.

Digital technologies make it easier to create and access content such as e-books, videos, blogs or podcasts for new teaching approaches like highly-focused microlearning. And strategies that take advantage of the latest learning technology have been shown to produce 50 percent higher engagement.

This accommodating approach to learning allows employees to get on-demand answers, encourages independent decision-making and provides learners with the flexibility and immediacy they desire.

While the modern worker certainly has a new set of expectations for learning in the workplace, these expectations are helping organizations create learning development programs that enable talent mobility, build a learning culture and grow future leaders.

Interested in learning more about how your organization can attract and retain modern workers? Check out Cornerstone's Guide to Developing Today's Top Talent for actionable tips on how to develop today's top talent.

Photo: Creative Commons

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

There’s a lot of coordination that goes into a company’s learning and development programming, from identifying skills gaps and creating engaging content to scaling initiatives company-wide. And because there’s so much complex planning involved, organizations can sometimes get caught up in the details, and overlook how L&D fits into broader organizational goals. A recent survey—titled "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change"—from Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that only 55% of organizations believe their L&D programs are well-aligned with their company’s overarching strategy. But CPRL and HCI’s survey reveals two logical ways to overcome this challenge. First, there’s a need for L&D executives to participate in strategic conversations around organizational goals to ensure that L&D planning aligns with broader business plans. And second, it’s important to share responsibility for learning effectiveness. If facilitating continuous learning is a part of everyone’s role, it becomes easier to integrate it organization-wide. Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration and Responsibility To better align L&D efforts with overarching business goals, learning executives have to participate in strategic conversations about organizational direction. For instance, when business leaders gather to discuss goals and KPIs for the coming year or quarter, HR and L&D leaders should be involved in those conversations. And the opposite is also true: Business leaders need to help direct the learning outcomes framed against those goals. According to the "Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey from CPRL and HCI, only about half (51%) of learning leaders report being involved in these discussions. During these business planning discussions, it’s important to establish accountability, especially among people managers. CPRL and HCI found 67% of people managers report being involved in the creation of content, but only 47% are involved in the accountability for the results. By holding more people accountable to the success of L&D programs, it can be easier for a company to spot pitfalls or opportunities for improvement. It creates shared goals for measuring effectiveness, and establishes a process for making changes. For example, by getting people managers involved in L&D initiatives, L&D leaders can work with them to get a better understanding of a specific team’s skill gaps or what reskilling or new skilling solutions will work best for them. All leaders in an organization, in fact, should be eager to participate and own their team’s newskilling, reskilling or upskilling efforts. Ask a people manager in the IT department to reiterate the importance of learning to their team, and track the amount of time their employees spend on learning content. This approach will not only create a shared commitment to continuous learning, but can also help leaders outside of L&D and HR get a better idea of what content or formats work best for their teams and recommend adjustments accordingly. Continuous Learning Is Everyone’s Responsibility Aligning overarching business plans and strategy with learning and development efforts can improve each’s efficacy. The more cross-departmental collaboration that exists, the more information that HR and L&D leaders have about their workforce and its needs, strengths and weaknesses. And with more accountability, all stakeholders in an organization can become more involved in ensuring the successful partnership between L&D and a company’s overall strategy. To learn more about the findings from Cornerstone’s "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey and its recommendations for using cross-departmental collaboration and accountability to help with L&D efforts, click here to download and read the full report.

Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

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Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

When we think of diversity in the workforce, we typically think of it along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. But focusing only on those four is its own sort of constraint. To truly create a successful and diverse workplace, you need to ensure you're also embracing neurodiversity too. Understanding neurodiversity In the late 1990s, a single mother in Australia named Judy Singer began studying Disability Studies at University of Technology Sydney. Her daughter had recently been diagnosed with what was then known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” a form of autism spectrum disorder. As she read more and more about autism as part of her studies, Singer also suspected that her mother, and she herself, may have had some form of autism spectrum disorder. Singer describes crying as she realized that her mother, with whom she'd had a tumultuous relationship throughout her childhood, wasn’t purposefully cold or neurotic as she had thought. She just had a different kind of mind. In her honors thesis, Singer coined the term “neurodiversity.” For Singer, people with neurological differences like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or dyslexia were a social class of their own and should be treated as such. If we are going to embrace diversity of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc., then we must embrace a diversity of the mind. The following video is an excerpt from the "Neurodiversity" Grovo program, which is available in the Cornerstone Content Anytime Professional Skills subscription. Neurodiversity in today's workplace Recently, neurodiversity has become a trendy term in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging spaces. And many organizations are working to hire more neurodivergent people, as well as give them opportunities to thrive at work. That’s why, at Cornerstone, we recently produced a series of lessons on neurodiversity. If your organization hasn’t prioritized neurodiverse inclusion yet, here are some reasons why it both supports your people and organization. 1) Neurodivergent people are underemployed Neurodivergent people, especially people with autism, are widely under-employed, regardless of their competence. In the United States, 85% of college graduates with autism are unemployed. According to a 2006 study, individuals with ADHD have higher rates of unemployment than individuals without. However, there is no evidence that neurodivergent people are less competent or less intelligent than neurotypical people. Organizations are missing out on talented people. 2) Neurodivergent people are more common than you may think Neurodiversity manifests in many different ways. It can encompass autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome, and many other conditions. And as scientists have learned more about what makes someone neurodivergent, they're identifying more and more people. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in every 162 children have Tourette Syndrome, and roughly 8 percent of children under 18 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And that's just children. How many adults, like Judy Singer's mother, have struggled their whole lives without a diagnosis? People who are neurodivergent are everywhere. Diverse organizations are stronger Diverse organizations and teams not only have better financial returns than less-diverse ones, but they also perform better. Having the different perspectives presented by people who are neurodivergent can help your team solve more difficult problems. Different perspectives and different ways of thinking lead to creativity and innovation.

Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

Blog Post

Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

Many organizations face a leadership gap and cannot find the talent needed to grow. We could blame the retiring baby boomer phenomenon, the free agent nation, or the lack of investment made in developing leaders. But since blame is a lazy man’s wage, I will not entertain that debate because there are too many options out there for developing leaders. There are many leadership development programs in the market. In minutes, with a simple Internet search or over coffee with your head of human resources, you can discover myriad high-quality leadership development programs that you could use in your organization to develop leaders. The problem is not finding a good program, but in choosing one. Answer the Right Questions So how does one choose? The problem we face in evaluating leadership development programs is that we get caught up in evaluating the content rather than asking a simple question, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Each organization is unique in how it answers this question. And that is where the secret lies. If an organization can select a program that matches the answer to the question above, the selected program will likely be the right one. After all, each leadership development program is very good in some way. It is not so important which one you select. It is important that you use the one you select. In other words, the key is to not let it become another un-opened binder on the bookshelves of your management team. Be An Effective Leader Let me give you an example: If an organization’s answer to the question above is, "We want our leaders to be proactive and focused on the things that drive results," your choices are narrowed down to only a few programs that would deliver on that answer. And if I had to pick one program that would deliver on that answer, without hesitation, I would choose, "The Effective Executive" by Peter F. Drucker. It is a classic, and all five of the behaviors of effective executives taught in the book remain vital skills that any leader should practice if he or she wants to be effective in his or her organization. In the book, Drucker teaches that effective executives: Know where their time goes Focus on contribution and results Build on strengths Concentrate on first things first Make effective decisions This is not a book review or a plug for "The Effective Executive," though I do believe if you had to choose one set of skills to teach your leadership, it would be the five from Drucker’s book. This is a challenge for every organization to simplify the selection of leadership development programs, and ask, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Answering this question clearly will help you choose the right program. After all, many programs are excellent. The secret to success is not in which program you choose, but that you get people to apply the program you choose. Photo: Can Stock

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