Blog Post

Navigating HR's evolution: Highlights from Cornerstone and SHRM’s conversations

Cornerstone Editors

The world of HR is in constant motion, a tango between meeting evolving employee needs and organizational goals. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recognizes this dynamic dance, and their podcast series, SHRM Spotlight, takes an up close and personal look at the innovators reshaping HR.

They were kind enough to ask some of our Cornerstars how to navigate the shifting landscape of HR trends best. Undoubtedly, the future is putting more demands on HR teams than ever before, but these challenges fuel the fire for innovation. With the right know-how and tenacity, those nerves your team is feeling about changes on the horizon can quickly turn to excitement.

So let's delve into the key takeaways from these enlightening conversations and see how HR professionals are reimagining career paths in today's dynamic work environment.

Evolving employee growth journeys

The VP of Talent at Cornerstone, Brianna Foulds, shed light on the evolving trends in employee growth journeys, emphasizing the importance of personalization and individualization in career development.

Today's workforce understands the need to adapt their skills to meet the demands of a changing economy. The traditional, linear career path is also undergoing a significant transformation. Your people now want roles aligned with their interests, purpose and life needs, leading to a more fluid career journey.

Embracing flexible career paths

Foulds introduced the concept of "flexible career paths" as a potential solution to this challenge, highlighting how careers often don’t follow traditional trajectories as they used to anyway. Creating a culture of talent mobility is what most of today’s workers are looking for.

Organizations are now exploring more adaptable career structures for their people, but there’s a bit of a learning curve to enter this more flexible world of work. Here are just a few of the strategies highlighted:

1) Integrating learning

Many companies incorporate learning and development into employee value propositions. This attracts top talent and promises long-term growth within the organization. Organizations can adopt a holistic approach to ensure continuous skill development and leadership growth, including mentoring and coaching programs, tailored training and leadership development planning.

2) Leveraging technology

Organizations like yours must tap into the latest and greatest tech on the market to empower employees to explore flexible career paths. For instance, Cornerstone’s learning and performance products utilize AI to suggest personalized career paths and assign learning resources to bridge every employee's skill gap. 

3) Creating project and gig opportunities

When you give your people the opportunity to try out new things, you can end up with a major boon for your organization. This approach provides a safe space to test new career directions. Cornerstone’s products encourage and facilitate the implementation of gig programs to provide employees with opportunities to develop and utilize new skills through cross-functional projects. This approach opens doors to career paths that traditional transitions may not uncover.

A win-win approach

The discussion also underscored how embracing flexible career paths benefits both employees and employers. Employees gain greater control over their careers while organizations build a workforce that can adapt to changing needs.

"Supporting employees' growth requires giving them the necessary time and space to develop the skills,” Foulds said, “but it's also crucial to connect them with other individuals within the organization who can provide either additional guidance and support, connection to new experiences or cross-collaboration."

She also addressed concerns about investing in employee development, leading to talent leaving for ostensibly greener pastures. Data suggests the opposite: your people are more likely to stay if they see opportunities for growth within the company. To mitigate concerns about talent retention, organizations must equip managers to manage workforce changes effectively.

Personalization and flexibility matter

SHRM also spoke with Cornerstone’s Chief People Officer, Carina Cortez, about why rigid, one-size-fits-all career paths are no longer enticing for employees or effective for organizations.

“Employees want their organizations to invest in their learning and development with a personalized journey,” she told SHRM.

Your people want personalized development journeys. Flexibility is critical, allowing employees to pivot between roles and departments. Organizations have to invest in understanding and supporting these unique career journeys.

Visibility into internal opportunities

Cortez also highlighted the significance of providing employees with visibility into internal career opportunities.

"Employees want to know about career opportunities inside their organization,” she said, “having the opportunity to just explore other career opportunities internally makes them more likely to stay in their job."

As a matter of fact, research indicates that 73% of workers want to know about career prospects within their organization. Those without this visibility are 61% more likely to consider leaving their jobs. In other words, simply offering the chance to explore internal career paths can increase employee retention.

Creating a holistic talent ecosystem

Cortez’s conversation with SHRM also expanded on the concept of a “talent ecosystem” and how it covers the entire employee lifecycle. A holistic approach like this integrates various programs, tools and resources to cohesively create an effective talent strategy.

“If you have a healthy talent ecosystem,” Cortez said, “you are going to have strong employee satisfaction, improve engagement, increase retention and reduce costs."

Measuring the impact of talent development throughout this ecosystem is crucial. Cortez discussed various metrics, including employee retention, engagement and the cost of attrition. She also emphasized the importance of gauging these initiatives' financial impact and return on investment (ROI). This helps demonstrate the positive impact on both employees and the organization.

Avoiding pitfalls

Organizations need to avoid being too rigid in their approach to talent development. Personalization and flexibility are key. Cortez advised against adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, as employees' career journeys vary widely. Organizations should aim to offer tailored recommendations and personalized content.

She suggested several actions HR leaders can take to promote skills development and internal talent mobility:

  • Conduct surveys to understand employee needs.
  • Implement technology supporting personalized skills development.
  • Focus on on-demand and in-the-moment learning.
  • Collaborate with content from other learners.
  • Leverage AI-driven recommendations for career development.

Unlocking the next phase in your organization’s evolution

These conversations between SHRM and Cornerstone emphasized how vital a healthy, flexible, and open-minded talent strategy is for your organization. It’s the key driver in employee satisfaction, engagement and retention. It provides insights into employees' growth trajectories and fosters a culture of growth and long-term success.

By investing in your people and connecting them to development opportunities, their career aspirations and goals can fuel your collective success as an organization.

And that’s how companies like yours can nurture future leaders to achieve extraordinary results. Listen to the podcast in its entirety here.

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