Deutsche Post DHL Group Delivering Skills-First Careers Powered by AI
Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) is the world’s leading logistics company. DPDHL is made up of a family of close-knit business divisions all working together to meet customers’ needs.
For DPDHL, it is important to focus on what excellence looks like in this digital world and how its people can adapt to that change. With the pace of change moving at incredible speed, and new skills becoming increasingly vital in today’s world of work, DPDHL turned to AI to help align skills with future challenges for the business.
A major part of DPDHL’s 2025 talent strategy is identifying the skills currently in the team today and uncovering potential skills that are relevant to tomorrow. One of the biggest challenges tied to this objective is how to bring in a skills ontology that can reflect the differences between desk-based roles and field roles, such as those handling and delivering parcels. This is where AI comes into play.
DPDHL turned to Cornerstone’s skills ontology offering – an AI-powered skills engine that identifies capabilities within the organization, which can then be matched to jobs within the company and pinpoint potential skills gaps. In choosing the right partner, DPDHL set out clear objectives to answer both the needs of its employees – fluid career paths – and the needs of the business – retaining its talent and futureproofing itself.
DPDHL is introducing Cornerstone’s technology to see what the next career move might be for an airside handler or supervisor in a warehouse, using AI to pinpoint the transferable skills. Once the skills are out on the table, the employee will then choose what they’d like to develop in order to move up or across into a new career path, opening up many possibilities and mapping out their future with the company.
Choosing this strategic skills-first approach to development means that employees at DPDHL are continually growing and learning, setting career paths that are not necessarily linear, and instead completely personalized to them.
A structured career path. Beyond matching employees to opportunities, DPDHL aspires to offer employees a way to keep career development in sight on an ongoing basis – from planning future roles to receiving suggestions to develop the necessary skills.
Millions saved on external recruitment costs. As employees are able to envisage their future at DPDHL, fewer are leaving and there is a decreasing need to hire externally. In fact, DPDHL anticipate a drop of more than 10% in external recruiting resources, saving millions.
More visibility to internal recruiters. DPDHL enables its recruiters better visibility of the wider internal talent pools beyond received applications for a position. That way, employees will have a way to “raise their hand” if open for new challenges and recruiters will be able to see their matches without a need for an active application.
Both a talent magnet and talent developer. DPDHL wants its people to grow, and for that to be celebrated. It may feel hard on managers when employees move teams and departments at first, but in the long-term, people are engaged, their experiences are improved and the business is overall more efficient and effective.
Sense of purpose. Thanks to AI and Cornerstone, employees will be engaged and feel like they have a sense of purpose in the workplace, which is one of the most important attributes that people look for in an organization today.
Plugging the skills gap. From a HR perspective, AI allows DPDHL to identify skills gaps which otherwise would go unnoticed until it is a bigger problem. This better prepares the company for the future and as a result, DPDHL becomes a more sustainable business in the long run.
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Power: Enabling continuous performance management with ongoing feedback and learning
Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Power is a full-service marketing agency focused on residential and commercial industries. Since 1976, the agency has helped numerous brands successfully sell through key distribution channels with a modern blend of marketing that’s relevant, disruptive, and smart. As Power’s new Director of Organizational Development, Carla Terwilleger was eager to establish a new performance review process—one focused not just on policy but the employee experience. “One of the ways I sold-in my new position to Power’s CEO was promising to overhaul the recruitment process, onboarding, employee performance, succession planning, and career development.” At that time, the agency still relied on paper-based employee performance reviews. “Our process was antiquated,” said Terwilleger. “We had no way to track consistency of reviews, if people were completing reviews on time, or where they were in the performance management process.” The existing manual process also didn’t inspire meaningful conversations between managers and employees. “In terms of feedback, we were a culture of ‘fluff’. We were very nice, and there are great things about that, but when it came to performance reviews, people weren’t being forthright or giving meaningful feedback.” Why PiiQ by Cornerstone After reviewing numerous talent management tools, Terwilleger selected PiiQ by Cornerstone. Not only was PiiQ easy to use and implement, but the platform’s newest feature, Check-ins, would enable continuous performance management and drive more frequent communication between managers and employees. Carla Terwilleger, director of organizational develpoment at Power, was also inspired by her experience with Cornerstone employees during the sales process. “I wanted to choose a partner that best models the type of company and culture we were trying to achieve”. Each time I called Cornerstone, I talked with the same two reps and could build an authentic relationship. I felt like they really wanted Power to succeed. They weren’t gimmicky or just selling me a tool to make a commission. This said a lot to me about Cornerstone’s culture.” Today, Terwilleger recommends PiiQ to other small to mid-sized companies. “I was at an HR roundtable, and a woman said, ‘I hate our performance evaluations.’ I replied, ‘Well, I love mine, and I’ll tell you why. PiiQ is so easy to use, everything is at your fingertips, and I have visibility into every employee’s performance.’” The Results Achieved 100% participation in goal setting. Power now has 100% of employees participating in goal setting. "Previously, employee goals were static and rarely updated. But goals change during the year," said Terwilleger. "With PiiQ, it's easier for employees to update their goals and expectations." Improved employee-manager conversations. Since implementing PiiQ, the quality of feedback has improved, and employees are encouraged to initiate performance discussions. “With Check-ins, status updates are more meaningful and easier to track and reference during the review. As a result, employees are having more conversations with their managers.” Enabled continuous learning. With PiiQ and CyberU—an integrated online library of thousands of courses—Power employees are continuously learning. “The ability to expand learning opportunities has been huge,” said Terwilleger. “We tell employees that just because you have a job today, doesn’t mean your job’s not going to change. They’re improving their skills all the time.” Gained insight into manager strengths and weaknesses. With PiiQ’s 360 feedback, Power employees can offer anonymous feedback. An average of three 360 feedback forms were sent to each employee and, of them, eighty-four percent of those were completed. “Sometimes a manager gives a glowing review, but the 360 feedback is 50% positive and 50% ‘needs development.’ That’s an indicator that I need to talk to the manager about their management style or help them if they’re concerned about giving more direct feedback.” Increased feedback clarity and accountability. PiiQ has also helped improve feedback clarity and accountability. “I tell employees, if you’re meeting with your manager, what you think you heard and what was actually said can be two different things,” said Terwilleger. “With Check-ins, employees can take thorough notes that the manager must read to complete the Check-in, ensuring that the meeting’s recap captured both what was heard, and what was said.” Reduced turnover. Offering wide range of learning opportunities and continuous feedback has helped Power retain key talent. “There are more jobs than there are candidates right now. It’s important for me to ensure employees are continuing to learn,” said Terwilleger. “It’s hard to show on the bottom line, but our people are more skilled and have a clear view of their career path, and turnover ends up being much lower.”
Prometheus: Ensuring World-Class Performance
Based in San Mateo, California, Prometheus Real Estate Group, Inc. manages a portfolio of more than 17,000 luxury apartments in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. Prometheus retains 675 employees (affectionately dubbed “Prometheans”) and is known for its creative, customer-centric approach to the rental market. Coordinating and managing the performance reviews of hundreds of employees is challenging for any company. For Prometheus, a cumbersome paper-based review process meant evaluating employee capabilities was both labor intensive and, according to Mattson Hill, director of human resources & organizational capabilities, “extremely painful.” Why Cornerstone In 2011, ADP, a Cornerstone partner, introduced Prometheus to the Cornerstone Performance Cloud, a comprehensive, automated software solution designed to track and integrate performance, skills and competencies, succession, and compensation. “The Performance Cloud also integrates seamlessly with our ADP solution, which meant we could have a single sign-on platform,” said Hill. While company leaders were impressed by the Performance Cloud’s flexibility, ease of use, and integrated approach, it was Cornerstone’s Learning Cloud that cemented the decision to upgrade. Employee training and development are critical components in Prometheus’ employee engagement and retention program, and the ability to integrate both performance reviews and continuing education promised not only improved productivity but comprehensive, complete employee development. The Results Cost Savings: Significant cost savings were realized early on, the result of increased efficiency when compared to the paper-based manual system. In the first year, adoption rate among corporate employees reached 100 percent, while the company’s diverse field employees embraced the system at a rate of 60 percent. Improved Manager Involvement: The Cornerstone Performance Cloud has also inspired managers to take a more active role in providing reviews and feedback. The system makes it easy to rate each Promethean’s performance, identify skill gaps and areas for improvement, and weed out underperformers. “Performance empowers managers to feel like they have a say in the review process versus it all being from human resources,” said Hill. Enhanced Employee Engagement and Productivity: A sense of empowerment and ownership has also resulted in a more cohesive connection between the review process and employee development, a key component in Prometheus’ integrated approach to talent management. “Cornerstone Performance makes it easier to make those connections to, and transition between, performance reviews and development plans,” said Hill. “The process is now more interactive between the Promethean and the manager when identifying competency areas designated for improvement and productivity. Pay-for-Performance Culture: Implementing the Cornerstone Compensation Module allowed Prometheus to enhance the security and integrity of its compensation data, as its outdated spreadsheet-driven system was replaced with Cornerstone’s web-based module. This module generated another level of system centralization for Prometheus, creating efficiencies for Administrators and end users and saving consulting fees. Overall review ratings were also used for compensation in a pay-for-performance model. High performers received higher compensation adjustments as a result of their review ratings.
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.