Tackling climate change with learning and development
Case Study

Tackling climate change with learning and development

January 1, 2021

Bonn has established itself as an important location for the United Nations and, in particular, the heart of the struggle against climate change. That’s because Bonn is home to the UN Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC). The organisation was founded following the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and started out with a mere handful of employees. Today, it employs 500 people from over 100 different countries. This rapid growth created a need to transform human resource management and adapt to new challenges and requirements. At the Paris Climate Change Conference in 2015, the UNFCCC set itself more ambitious goals. In order to work towards these goals administrative hurdles in HR needed to be removed and central processes needed to be automated and simplified. “Until now, our HR management tended to be reactive and focused on administrative processes. This has prevented us from adopting a strategic approach to HR”, explains Niels Lohmann, Talent Manager and Head of HR Learning and Performance at the UNFCCC. “In particular, we lacked a systematic approach, efficiency and transparency, as well as engagement with our managers in the Learning and Performance domain”. In response, the UNFCCC increased its investment in talent management to boost the HR department’s efficiency, create leeway for employees to offer a better service, and support managers with more targeted interventions.

Why Cornerstone?

Through process optimisation and adapting HR to the organisation’s strategic objectives, the UNFCCC’s appeal as an employer would increase. On one hand, the existing team would identify more with the organisation, while on the other hand, this would enable the organisation to attract the very best candidates in the long term with a strong employer brand.

With this in mind, the UNFCCC opted for Cornerstone OnDemand’s talent management solution for its Learning and Performance Management area. “From the very beginning, we wanted to implement a cloud-based system to gradually bundle our HR processes and allow us to regularly update them with little time and effort”, explains Lohmann. “In addition, we wanted processes to be simpler, automated and more intuitive for everyone”. As data security is a major priority at the UN, the UNFCCC places as much importance on transparency in handling data as it does on its talent management provider’s reliability and sustainability. Cornerstone won over the UNFCCC as a transparent service provider that doesn’t just offer an organically developed system solution; it also guarantees comprehensive data security thanks to its various certifications and infrastructure. In March 2012, the new system was rolled out for Learning, followed by the roll-out for Performance Management.

The results

HR transformation: from administration to strategic support. Automating Learning and Performance helped to combat redundancy in the organisation’s workflows while progressively removing administrative hurdles. Much shorter, clearer processes have also paved the way for the UNFCCC’s HR department to actively address the needs of managers and employees instead of acting as administrators. “We can now reflect on, document and adjust all steps in the Learning and Performance process at any time, even in a complex organisation like ours. At the same time, we’ve strengthened our reputation as an innovative, solutions-orientated HR organisation”, says Lohmann.

More effective cooperation and networking. The investment in the new software is also resulted in higher engagement among managers and employees alike. “We use the tool to encourage cooperation between managers and their teams, facilitate dialogue, and have a positive impact on employee engagement”, says Lohmann. Employee engagement has increased considerably. Almost 100% of staff use the solution regularly, and managers are also seeing additional benefits in using the tool to perform their leadership roles.

Long-term development prospects. Before implementing the learning management system, the organisation lacked a systematic approach to learning due to the complex issues faced and the ad hoc nature of its learning offerings. Now all UNFCCC employees now have 24 h access to topics relevant to them and their work. The comprehensive reporting features give managers and HR an accurate picture of their employees’ ongoing development. “With the solution, we are in a position to better target our learning activities over the long term and give our employees the chance to continually grow their skills”, says Lohmann. “In addition, our employees can use the system to actively help define their own professional development plans”.

Boosting performance management. As the UN Climate Secretariat, the organisation doesn’t just place great importance on environmental protection; it also has high social and labour standards. Through mandatory compliance training, automated reporting, transparent processes for performance assessment and continual optimisation, the Cornerstone Learning and Performance Management solutions helped the organisation to avoid redundancies, control costs and boost efficiency. Their results are still felt today; compliance rates in Performance increased from 50% to 80% in the three years since implementation.