Behind the scenes of Cornerstone’s bold new vision to power the future ready workforce
Meet the Future, Ready: A Guide for Talent Leaders Shaping the New World of Work
Empowering people in the age of agility: Real stories of success from Cornerstone clients
The Business Case for Skill Intelligence
Spotlight on Electrolux and Ageas: Preparing for and maintaining impactful learning programs
Driving business outcomes from an investment in learning content requires an engagement strategy that makes learning materials available and accessible to employees. Organizations need to launch and maintain learning programs effectively to ensure they have maximum impact on both employees and the business as a whole. Both Ageas and Electrolux have successfully launched digital learning programs, each taking steps to maintain and sustain engagement. How did Electrolux prepare to launch its learning campaign? Electrolux manages organizational learning and knowledge management with formal learning networks, Internet-based knowledge, as well as a company-own education facility. Learner engagement is one of the most important aspects for Electrolux to continuously develop talents. Therefore, Electrolux offers a plan for a learner engagement campaign that includes four main steps. 1) Knowing your audience Electrolux conducted interviews with employees to ensure the company's learning and development strategy would meet their needs. In doing so, the company was able to connect learning content with the right audience. 2) Connecting it to your brand Electrolux believes using familiar, consistent branding helps make learning more memorable to create a long-term impact on its employees' behaviors. 3) Make it relevant and engaging Based on external and internal insights, Electrolux discovered that more frequent quarterly learner programs cultivated higher levels of employee engagement than one large campaign launch. Employees were also awarded badges for each completed course, with leader boards to gamify the learning experience and motivate employees to participate. 4. Track performance for key insights Electrolux tracked and used metrics from the program to gain deeper insights about its course completion rates. Using a previous campaign as a benchmark, Electrolux found that the success of their new learning strategy exceeded expectations. How did Ageas build an impactful learning content strategy? Ageas launched its digital learning platform two years ago but has always been conscious not to overwhelm employees with its vast library of learning material available. Ageas adopted a three-pillar strategy to reduce unnecessary noise and guide its people to the right learning content to spur their growth and development. 1) Generate one voice Key messages were planned each month from business, well-being and learning perspectives. These key messages were conveyed through links and content shared on Ageas's digital platform to ensure messaging was aligned and consistent. 2) Make it relevant Ageas created its own competency framework to guide learners and help connect them with the most relevant learning materials. One such framework is "Technical Heroes," which consists of nine core competencies that employees see right away on the landing page, each with links to relevant materials. By specifying the key areas of development and making learning material easy to access and navigate, learners are able to focus on what is most relevant to them. 3) Weave learning content into the digital onboarding journey Ageas has integrated its remote onboarding processes into the digital learning platform. Leveraging a combination of suggested learning materials (specific to the job or function of the employee) and live induction sessions has enabled a smoother, more consistent onboarding process. The impact of a successful learning strategy Investing in the best learning materials is only half of the equation. If learners are not interacting and engaging with the materials, the investment is not accomplishing its purpose. Learning must be at the core of every business decision, and leaders must inspire employees to take charge of their own development journeys. With a collective growth mindset throughout the business, the opportunities for innovation are vast.
3 key lessons for business leaders leading through change
I've been a leader at Cornerstone through many challenging times — the financial crisis of 2008, Brexit, COVID-19, and the war in Ukraine. I've seen the world and our organization adapt and change to meet these shifts. As a business leader during these times, I've learned that you have to step up to any challenge, no matter how grave, for the sake of your workforce. Here are three key lessons I've learned along the way when it comes to leading through disruption. 1) Take the high ground Being seen and heard and keeping communication lines open so that employees and stakeholders feel an element of comfort is crucial. Virtual meetings and communication tools have made it easier to be the visible leader that your people want. If an event has a direct impact on your company and your people, it's vital to keep communication as regular as possible. Depending on the circumstances, daily, weekly, monthly or ad-hoc updates or meetings can calm anxieties among your workforce. 2) Not all approaches work for all regions As the Chief International Officer at Cornerstone, I've learned that not every approach or solution works for every region. This requires a "glocal" approach. Glocal means you're focused on ensuring global effectiveness but with local relevancy. It's an effective way to deal with global disruption. But to do this, you need to get the communication pathways among countries in a solid, transparent position. You hire local talent so they can be a part of your global journey, so making sure the decision-making happens at a local level is crucial. 3) Identifying "probortunities" Most leaders want to be viewed as superheroes who can solve problems in the blink of an eye, but the reality is that every disruption is unique. Identifying probortunities (problems that can be viewed as opportunities) can help you understand each issue in a crisis and determine the most suitable strategy for addressing them. While we cannot predict the next global disruption, I believe we're better prepared as leaders to optimize agility and readiness across people and business. We're more resilient as we've learned and grown from the experiences. We know it's important to position ourselves front and center and keep communication open and transparent. We've proven that by adopting a glocal approach in navigating disruptions, we remain in touch, relevant and on strategy.
Talent development and employee wellness: COVID-19’s push to a new partnership
COVID-19 has transformed nearly every aspect of our future. Almost all organizations got shoved into a giant experiment to enable employees to work from home. Organizational priorities got uplifted, shifted or completely replaced. The talent marketplace has been turned on its head, and the skills gap is widening. This is causing employers to rethink how they strategize, recruit, retain, and grow employees for the future of work. All this turmoil yields some new and possibly unlikely partnerships throughout many organizations. Consider employee wellness and talent development. Understanding the background of each of these efforts will reveal a partnership primed to flourish in the future of work. Understanding the history of employee wellness Employee wellness has been a focus for organizations across the globe for a long time. In fact, the history of employee wellness is quite robust. It is believed that the earliest focused efforts on researching and understanding the benefits of employee wellness date back to an Italian physician in the 17th century (Rucker). Naturally, this concept of employee wellness has evolved throughout the years. Workplace wellness resulted in ideas such as the 8-hour workday and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). For a substantial amount of time, wellness was focused only on the employee's physical health. Throughout this evolution, employees gained new benefits and programs; however, to better meet employees' needs, the concept of holistic wellness was created and expanded. Forrester Research defines employee well-being into three major categories that are split into eight sub-categories: Individual Wellness Emotional Wellness Psychological Wellness Physical Wellness Environmental Wellness Social Wellness Occupational Wellness Spatial Wellness Contextual Wellness Financial Wellness Spiritual Wellness These eight categorizations of wellness paint a much fuller picture of what employees need. However, most organizations look at employee well-being and talent development as isolated efforts instead of complementary pursuits. How talent management has evolved through the years Before the modern era of learning and performance management systems, talent management was focused on leadership bench building and succession planning. Since the 1950s, organizations like PepsiCo and GE were beacons for formalized, structured development programs (Harvard Business Review). These programs were isolated efforts without any coordination from the employee wellness department. However, as times and markets changed, organizations that did not adapt were forced to lay off much of the workforce, especially those considered non-essentials, like talent and wellness teams. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, talent management technology solutions emerged. Many primarily used these systems as compliance or transactional platforms — usually limited to — supplying courses to their employees focused mainly on regulatory or safety training. Performance reviews were typically focused on how the employee helped the business and not how the organization helped its employees. The access to advanced technology certainly allowed more engagement between talent and wellness teams. However, this was rarely the case. We now know that adaptability is crucial for organizations to survive. The future of work demands that organizations rethink their investments in their workforce and the relationship between wellness and talent. The data is already out there telling this same story. The affects of COVID-19 In 2020, Cornerstone analyzed all of its customer bases to gather insights into what type of content learners were seeking. Throughout its over 75 million users, the data showed a significant spike in content consumption on topics related to the shifts in environmental factors people were experiencing. In the spring of 2020, COVID-19 hit and forced most companies to enable work-from-home strategies. Cornerstone saw an increase in learning by a factor of five. The most consumed content focused on Remote Work and Effective Communications. By the summer of 2020, there was a six-time increase focused on "unconscious bias" and "working with multi-cultural teams." This reflects the social unrest happening in many areas and people turning to their employers to help gain understanding. Then, in the fall of 2020, there was a three-fold increase, focused on Remote Work and Mental Health. By this time, employers were extending the work-from-home experiment and/or making permanent employee environment shifts, and employees needed to find ways to cope with that change. The theme within the data is that employees' wellness is affected by their situation and environment, and they turn to their employers for support on crucial topics in their lives. However, the results also show a gap between what content employees want (knowledge, skills, wellness) and what employers traditionally offer (compliance, regulatory or safety). With any gap comes an opportunity to adapt — a clear call for the wellness and talent teams to partner up to meet the growing needs of their workforce. According to MIT Sloan Review, 85% of employees say their work stress is bleeding into their home lives, 78% of workers say the pandemic affects their mental health, and 76% think employers should be doing more to support their workforce. As a result of the pandemic, employers are forced to think of new ways to engage with their employees by prioritizing connectivity and flexibility to meet the needs of their workforce (Tulane University). This is an area in which adept organizations' talent development teams recognize the impact they can make on their employees' wellness and development. The data is clear. Employees are looking to their employers for more significant support in their lives. This is why benefits and wellness teams need to create stronger partnerships with their talent management teams. To truly engage employees across all eight types of well-being, organizations need the right strategy, content and vehicle for delivering that content. By aggregating this data, a few generalized themes emerge: Employees want ways to be engaged and to grow; Employees need a sense of community and belonging; Employees seek understanding about the events around them; and, Employees need a sense of purpose and direction. Wellness, talent and the future of work The path forward needs to be engaging and empower employees to excel in their careers. That path should include suggestions of how they can grow. Employees need to feel included in a social learning community, which is not strictly focused on work. There need to be methods for employees to learn about the world around them and a feedback loop for employees to be heard (Forrester). Achieving this requires a joint effort between HR functions like wellness and talent, focused on enriching their employees' lives and addressing all areas of wellness. At a macro level, here are some opportunities where talent and wellness teams can combine their efforts: Integrated wellness and learning culture with managers leading by example Wellness and development embedded into performance check-ins and reviews Career pathways and supportive development opportunities Content that enables growth beyond the role or company Social outlets where employees can connect and interact with their colleagues with similar interests To achieve these outcomes, we suggest the following: No meeting Fridays or introducing bookends to each day (MIT Sloan Review). Both focus on balancing workloads and transitions to home life, especially when there is no longer a commute home to decompress. At the organizational level, incorporate development and wellness-focused questions into the regular check-ins or reviews between leaders and employees. This will keep a consistent pulse on the workforce and lead to a greater understanding of what your workforce is passionate about and the pathways, job architecture and content needed to support that development. Create social groups or communities where all employees can engage with each other on various hobbies — workout bike groups, travel groups, food groups, etc. Having friends and a place to belong at work is critical to an employee's well-being (Forrester). Organizations can expand their support beyond their employee base to their families. By enabling the employee's family members to access a version of the organization's learning platform, they can learn about effective communication, resume writing, computer software skills and/or unconscious bias. Benefits teams can offer this as an added perk to employees during open enrollment. This provides the added benefit of family support to help ensure your employees are present and productive every day. These are just some of many possible suggestions that can be adapted to fit any organization. They show the importance of wellness and talent teams partnering closer together for the future success of any organization in this new future of work. The costs of not investing in your people It is widely known and accepted that happier employees are more productive employees. A preponderance of research shows the value of investing in employee wellness. In one study, Harvard Business Review researchers found a six-to-one, fully loaded return on investment of healthcare savings when organizations invest in employee wellness. The return on investment can manifest as reduced costs on premiums, claims, and lost workdays, amongst others. Furthermore, organizations should see increased employee engagement because of these investments. In a Gallup study, work units in the top quartile of engagement saw a 22% boost in profitability and a 21% increase in productivity compared to those in the bottom quartile. Gallup's study also found that higher employee engagement positively impacts nine key performance outcomes: retention, absenteeism, safety and quality. Whether called the "Great Resignation" or the "Great Migration," all industries face this issue. Attracting, retaining, and growing employees is more critical now than ever before. The pace of technology is making that abundantly clear. The cost to replace an employee can vary drastically, ranging from 50% to 400% for High Potential (HiPo) employees (ClearCompany). SHRM calculates that it costs upwards of 200% of the employees' salary to replace them. Consider an employee making a salary of $50,000 per year. At 200% of their salary, it will cost the organization $100,000 to replace them. Multiply that by a factor of 100 employees, and the cost to the organization increases to $10 million. A sizeable amount that likely any organization would prefer to reinvest into growth instead of spending on retention issues. What we owe to each other According to Forrester's research, the degree of focus an employer puts on employee wellness can vary based on geographical location, culture, and industry. Yet, COVID-19 had no regard for location, culture, or industry. It disrupted every aspect of what we considered our "normal" lives. The history of employee wellness and talent management has taught us that the way things were are not how they will or should be (Rucker & HBR, respectively). One of the worst phrases a leader can say is "this is the way we have always done it" because it only leads to stagnation. The responsibility is on the employer to better support their employee population if they want to attract, retain, and grow top talent. The organizations that will survive and thrive in the future are the ones that become agile to the ever-changing environment they've been thrust into. Forrester's data reveals that "COVID burnout" creates a considerably greater reliance on organizations to provide wellness support to their employees. From saving on healthcare costs (HBR) to saving on people assets (SHRM) and factoring in the high attrition rates resulting from COVID-19, the numbers are an apparent reason why organizations need to prioritize this. Fortunately, the return on this investment is there, and top executives reposition this from a cost function to an investment proposition. Sources "The interesting History of Workplace Wellness," Michael Rucker, 2016 "COVID-19's Impact on Corporate Wellness", Tulane University, 2021 "How Employee Engagement Drives Growth," Gallup, 2013 "Employee Wellness Programs Are No Longer A Nice To Have," Forrester, 2021 "How Organizations Can Promote Employee Wellness, Now and Post-Pandemic," MIT Sloan Management Review, 2021 "What's the Hard Return on Employee Wellness Programs?" Harvard Business Review, 2010 "Talent Management for the Twenty-First Century," Harvard Business Review, 2008 "What Makes High-Performing and HiPo Employees?", ClearCompany, 2021 "Retaining Talent," SHRM, 2017
Trends at Work
Talent development and employee wellness: COVID-19’s push to a new partnership
Closing the Skills Confidence Gap: Cornerstone Global Skills Report 2022
Since 2020 got started, so much has changed, yet so much hasn't. When we conducted the 2020 Cornerstone Global Skills Report survey a few weeks after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, we were pretty sure it'd uncover some interesting insights. And it did not disappoint. A key finding led to what we dubbed the "Skills Confidence Gap." This statistically significant gap revealed the surprising difference between employers' and employees' levels of confidence in their organizations' skill development support. About 18 months later, we were curious to learn if the Skills Confidence Gap shrank or widened. So in the fall of 2021, we partnered with Starr Conspiracy again to conduct a new global research study and examine how effectively organizations are evolving their people development practices to meet the changing nature of work in a post-2020 world. And it's not like we'd write this entire blog if the report weren't full of interesting statistics and revelations. So here's a rundown of what we found, how it affects work and why it matters for your organization. The Skills Confidence Gap and you At the start of the pandemic, we were already in the middle of a global skills shortage. Employers said they couldn't find people who had the skills they needed to fill roles. But in the minds of their employees, the organizations already had found the people; it was them. The holdup was that the employers weren't doing enough to support their skill growth into those open roles. Our study found a 30% gap between employer and employee perception of the organization's commitment to effective skill development. Only 60% of employees reported they were confident in their organization's prioritization of skill development opportunities compared to 90% of employers. Unfortunately, that gap hasn't closed. And now, employee confidence has dropped even more. Only 55% of employees in 2022 say they have confidence in their organization's skill development opportunities. This year, we expanded the scope of our research to include three major points of how employers and employees view their organizations': Continued investment in skills Ability to influence talent and business outcomes Response to the pandemic We also examined how organizational performance factored into those investments, which may be the most exciting result in this year's research. More on that later. What makes high-performing organizations so high performing First and foremost, it's important to note our recent research revealed that both organizations and their people see skills development as an increasingly important part of navigating their shared future. What separates high-performing organizations from the rest is how they're investing. Our research looked at high-, average- and laggard-performing organizations. How we determined an organization's performance level based on mainly three measurements: Profitability Turnover Net Promoter Score® (NPS®) High-performing organizations have industry-leading profitability, low turnover and high employee NPS scores. We compared high-, average- and laggard-performing organizations' approaches to skills development, talent strategy and how they reacted to the pandemic. High-performing organizations reported a much smaller Skills Confidence Gap than average or laggard organizations. There was only an 11% gap between how employers and employees perceived the effectiveness of their organization's skill development programs in high-performing organizations. Average-performing organizations had a 35% gap, and there was a record 42% gap for laggards. There were also gaps between laggard- and high-performing organizations when it came to: Leadership development Internal mobility Employee engagement Retention Quality of hire Diversity and inclusion It's clear that during an era of uncertainty, high-performing organizations believe in investing heavily in their people and their skills as a strategy to grow, innovate and perform. High-performing organizations are successful when they develop the skills of their workforce and align to the perceptions, needs and desires of their workforce. Closing the gap It's no surprise that employers' most urgent concern in the next three years is skills and talent shortages, with 48% citing this as one of their top three concerns. And some organizations are taking it seriously by reporting they've either already begun prioritizing skills development or plan to in the next year to help mitigate that concern. The results were varied: High-performing organizations – 72% will prioritize in the next year, and 47% have already begun Average-performing organizations – 34% said they planned to make changes in the next year, and 33% said within the next three years Laggard-performing organizations – Nearly 3x more likely to have stalled skills development investments than high-performing organizations. Where employees want to learn Aside from "independent internet research," employees reported that the most likely place they go for career development information is their "organization's skills and development platform." And successful learning platforms increase employees' desire for more learning, which feeds into creating a culture of learning in your organization. High-performing organizations have also found that investing in various learning and skills development is vital. They're investing in a multitude of opportunities and winning out in on-the-job skills training, mentoring and coaching programs, formal education and university learning, learning content and learning and development technology. There's no one right way to create a skills development program for your organization. What can make you a high-performing organization is to listen to your people and give them all the skill development opportunities they crave. It's an investment that pays off for employees and employers. How many other things genuinely do that? Download the report today.
What you may have missed in Season 4 of the HR Labs podcast
That's a wrap for the HR Labs season four podcast! Season four was packed with strategies to meet the future ready, from leveraging AI to building equity into the employee experience. For more resources, access our whitepaper, Meet the Future, Ready: A Guide for Talent Leaders. What is HR Labs? HR Labs is a podcast that explores how to create a better employee experience for all your people. In season 4, new host Summer Salomonsen examines how talent leaders can help make work truly "work" for all employees. It's no secret that the way we work has changed over the last few years and that people are thinking differently about what they want from their jobs. Along with HR leaders and experts from organizations like McKinsey, Amazon, and Deutsche Post DHL, Summer explored topics like learning, skills, career growth, AI, equity, and more to understand how we can build a more connected workplace. In case you missed the episode or want to relive the season, here's an episode breakdown. Episode 4.1 – Let's rebuild work How can talent leaders lead the way when it comes to rebuilding the way we work? Carly Cooper, head of culture and transformation at Vianai Systems, talks all about the connection between HR and culture, the components that make up a solid organizational culture, and how talent leaders can lead the way. Listen on Apple or Spotify. Episode 4.2 – Make learning foundational to growth When we think about employee growth, we think about the skills people need to build to prepare themselves and their organization for the future. So how can talent leaders facilitate learning experiences that lead to opportunities for employees to develop? Lisa Christensen, director of the learning design center for excellence at McKinsey & Company, unfolds the concept of learning and development as a shared responsibility between organizations and their people. She also discusses how modern apprenticeships can fuse learning and development meaningfully and the role frontline leaders and managers play in making those learning experiences successful. Listen on Apple or Spotify. Episode 4.3 – Turn skills into your new growth language Upskilling and reskilling are essential for helping today's workforce adapt to changing industries, markets and global environments. But how can skills also drive the growth opportunities that employees crave? Meredith Wellard, VP of group learning talent and platforms at Deutsche Post DHL, redefines how we think about skills in the workplace. Together, she and Summer explore the results of Deutsche Post DHL's investment in skills and provide a framework for how organizations can put skills to work for their people and their business. Listen on Apple or Spotify. Episode 4.4 – Changing from career paths into career possibilities It's no surprise: The best way to help people achieve their full potential at work is to provide development opportunities. But are we — organizations and individuals alike — being too limited in thinking about career growth? Leadership Speaker and Author Julie Winkle Giulioni joins Summer to help us look beyond promotions as the only way to measure career growth. They discuss what it means to provide career possibilities, review a framework managers can use to support their employees' growth needs, and examine why it's so crucial in our current moment to prioritize organic growth opportunities. Listen on Apple or Spotify. Episode 4.5 – Reexamining the Role of HR in the Age of AI AI is all around us. Still, there's untapped potential in how organizations can leverage the technology, which means HR leaders have the opportunity to see even more benefits. Chief Research Officer, Author and Podcast Host Ben Eubanks joins Summer to unpack opportunities where AI can support HR functions now and in the future. They explore AI's role in taking on rote and repetitive tasks and helping HR teams become better "people" people by giving us the ability to ask the right questions and execute better judgments. Listen on Apple or Spotify. Episode 4.6 – Putting equity into practice As HR leaders, it's on us to provide equitable experiences to our employees. But how can we make sure our actions reflect our intentions and deliver on that promise? Jenn Hultman, leader of global operations and strategy for talent acquisition at Amazon, joins Summer to discuss how we can build equity into the employee lifecycle, starting with recruitment. They walk through how to adopt an equity-focused mindset about recruitment and ways to uphold equitable processes and practices to give every employee access to the same opportunities. Listen on Apple or Spotify. Episode 4.7 – Thinking big and bold about the future ready workforce We've had to respond to massive instances of change over the last few years, from navigating remote work to the Great Resignation and skills shortages. What's on the horizon, and how can HR leaders prepare their organizations to be future ready? This episode seeks to find out. John Helmer, writer, consultant and the host of his own podcast, The Learning Hack, sits down with Summer Salomonsen for the final episode of the season. They discuss beneficial outcomes of building a future-ready workforce right now and the trends and market shifts shaping tomorrow's learning and talent strategies. Listen on Apple or Spotify.
Professional skills training designed for the modern employee
Build stronger communicators, strategic thinkers, and higher functioning teams across the organization with the Content Anytime: Professional Skills subscription, and develop employees of all levels and across different functions to new heights. An organization is only as good as its people. Your people are what drive strategy, sell products, innovate, support customers, and make decisions. With the Content Anytime: Professional Skills subscription, your learners will have access to premium content from Cornerstone’s award-winning studio as well as top learning brands in a number of topics and modalities to serve different learning preferences.
Building skills for the future of work
In the HR world today, we hear a lot about upskilling or new skilling the workforce to prepare for changes — whether it’s adapting to new technology or new ways of doing business. In fact, according to research from PwC, the availability of key skills is a top concern for business leaders worldwide as they look to ready their companies for the future of work. But even though technology is driving the need for new skills, the skills that will help companies tackle the challenges they face — from transforming in the face of disruption to pursuing revenue growth and increasing operational efficiency — are not technical. In fact, training for those skills is producing less return than it has in the past because business changes are so rapid. Some skills become outdated or unnecessary thanks to automation, for example. But regardless of our predictions, technology can create jobs just as much as it replaces them. Increasingly, it’s our uniquely human skills that will qualify us for those roles and help organizations adapt to these changes.
Bridge the Workforce Skills Gap: 3 Key Places to Start
New global research from the Cornerstone People Research Lab shows that organizational leaders and employees are rallying around the importance of skills. However, the research identified a serious confidence gap between employers and employees about their ability to consume skills development and showed that it is challenging to develop critical skills in a way that’s effective and meaningful for employees. 90% of leaders vs 60% of employees feel confident in their company’s ability to develop their skills The acceleration of workplace change, with both short-term shocks and long-term trends, is making employees concerned about a skills deficit and is leaving them feeling insecure about the future of their core skills and roles. This e-book offers practical next steps for talent leaders to address and enable skills development to empower their people and organization. In this eBook you’ll gain insight into: Closing employee confidence gaps in your skills development programs Identifying the skills employees need to succeed And removing barriers in skills development Learn more with practical steps for developing skills at scale to build stronger, more adaptable and resilient people and organizations.
3 key lessons for business leaders leading through change
Infographic: Nothing pays off better than learning
An extraordinary business takes all kinds of people
When your organization embraces diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB), you not only build a culture where people feel they belong but also outperform your competition. Why invest in DEIB training? Put improving your DEIB first on the initiative list using our curated online training subscription library. When you support a more inclusive and equitable workforce, you'll facilitate career mobility and elevate diverse voices across your organization.