Skills Development

Skills Development: Now or Later?

Podcast Sponsored by: Cornerstone

Research from PWC shows that upskilling puts companies at a great advantage. The research found that companies realize an extra 10% to 15% of the benefit of large-scale transformation initiatives and up to 40% reduction in workloads on individual roles, as well as a 5% improvement in workforce retention when they integrate upskilling. These benefits lead to more output, opportunities to reduce cost, and higher customer satisfaction

Our Guest: Katie Ballantyne

On our latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Katie Ballantyne, Cornerstone’s VP of Product and Customer Experience. She has years of experience achieving industry-leading employee engagement programs across organizations.

Katie Explains the already large gap we are seeing in skills development from 2020 to 2022

“Well,  from 2020 to 2022, what we’ve found out through research is that employee confidence that their employer is effectively developing their skills has gone down. And we found that the gap has grown wider. There’s now a 35 percentage point difference between that employer and employee confidence in skilling.

“What this really means, is that only about 55% of employees feel like their employer is effectively developing their skills.”

High Performing Organizations VS Low Performing Organizations

What differentiates these high-performing organizations from organizations that are just not excelling? Is it money? Type of employee? There has to be a definitive answer. Lets see what Katie thought:

“Here’s what we found out. The high performing organizations, they only had a nine percentage point skills confidence gap, whereas the laggard organizations had a 42 percentage point skill confidence gap.”

Katie goes further into the analysis:

“So what that means is that these laggard organizations, so the organizations that aren’t performing as well financially or with their customer retention, this means that only 18% of those employees feel like skilling and development is a high priority for their company. Let’s compare that in contrast to the high performing organizations, this was the only one with that nine percentage point gap, 88% of employees that these organizations feel like there is a priority in their development, in their learning, in their growth.”

The Lure of Learning Development

With a stat from 2021- Katie Explains:

“There was a survey that was done between Amazon and Gallup, it was back in 2021, and that survey uncovered that skills training is one of the top perks that people look for in their jobs. And with about 61% of the respondents in this study saying that upskilling opportunities are also important for staying at their jobs.”

How does technology play a role in the learning development process?

“People know that skilling is important, but sometimes they’re not quite sure where to start. This is big. It’s not like going and picking maybe eight competencies, which is still important and that’s still huge work to even do that and to narrow down that selection, but it can be really, really intimidating.”

I hope you found this recent episode of #WorkTrends informative and inspiring. To learn more about Cornerstone and Skills Development, please visit https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/ 

Subscribe to the #WorkTrends podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher. Be sure to follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on LinkedIn and Facebook, too, for more great conversations!

Hiring Bias

Hiring Bias – Create a Fairer Hiring Process

Bias can be a powerful factor in the recruitment process. In 2019, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, began secretly auditing some of the top companies for implicit bias in the hiring processes. Their results showed a significant bias against resumes that included candidate names likely to be associated with Black applicants. In other words, even at top-tier employers, bias appeared to be repeatedly popping up in the hiring process.

This may surprise some people who believe that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Act wiped out bias in hiring. After all, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against potential employees based on gender, race, religion, age, national origin, or disability. Nevertheless, bias in hiring is still an issue.

The Root of Bias in Hiring and Recruitment

When it comes to recruiting, bias is the brain’s subconscious way of labeling a candidate as a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” according to the recruiter’s subjective feelings about a candidate’s observable characteristics. This means that the recruiter can be biased toward or against a candidate (for example, a male recruiter preferring a male candidate), which can lead to unfair assessments. Given this understanding, it’s clear that bias can show up in almost every step of the hiring process.

Consider a recruiter reviewing dozens of applications for a job opening. The recruiter can show bias when judging candidates. Anything from gender and personal pronouns to alma maters and home addresses can spark common hiring biases. Many recruiters aren’t even aware they’re being biased because many of these judgments happen subconsciously.

Even after the resume review stage, hiring teams can again display bias during interviews. A number of studies over the years, including some from Princeton and New York University, have concluded that it takes less than a minute to form a first impression of someone. That first impression could be based on an unfair preconceived notion — related to anything from previous personal experience to common stereotypes.

For instance, a recruiter may expect candidates to be energetic and cheerful during the initial screening. Under those circumstances, a more thoughtful, serious, or reserved applicant could be removed from consideration before getting a chance to warm up to the discussion. While this immediate impression may have some truth to it, the candidate may need time to truly show what they have to offer, which may be far more beneficial to the organization in the long run.

The good news is that it’s possible to mitigate the effects bias can have on the hiring process. And it all starts with having conversations to acknowledge, understand, and address this issue.

Common Types of Hiring Bias

According to ThriveMap

  1. Affinity bias
  2. Confirmation bias
  3. Halo effect
  4. Horn effect
  5. Illusory correlation
  6. Beauty bias
  7. Conformity bias
  8. Contrast bias
  9. Non-verbal
  10. First impression

Reducing Implicit Bias in the Hiring Process

In my years in the recruitment industry, I’ve encountered some excellent, reliable ways to temper bias. Below are a few recommendations.

1. Implement an applicant tracking system.

An applicant tracking system, or ATS, is a centralized platform used to streamline recruitment and consolidate candidates. A robust ATS can collect, analyze, and review hiring and recruitment data objectively, and can provide an overview of all touchpoints and data collected along the candidate’s journey. At any time, a recruiter can retrieve key information about an applicant from the system.

Not surprisingly, one of the biggest benefits of an applicant tracking system is the ability to reduce bias. Certainly, recruiters can tailor candidate searches by inputting keywords such as “developer” or “Harvard.” Nevertheless, an ATS has the potential to be more impartial than most humans.

Another advantage of an automated applicant tracking system is time savings. An ATS can match up candidates with remarkable speed. At the same time, most applicant tracking systems are customizable and can integrate with other platforms such as marketing tools.

2. Remove identifiers.

Applicant tracking systems remove a lot of unconscious bias from recruiting. But, they can’t conduct interviews for you. Instead, get creative in implementing different methods to decrease the chance of discrimination before and during interviews.

One method I learned that proved successful was to scrub identifiers (such as applicant name, education, address, gender, and related fields) from every resume. As a result, your hiring committee can compare candidates on the basis of their experience — nothing else.

For example, in a previous role, I was tasked with building out the DevOps team. I presented candidates of diverse ethnicities and genders, but the hiring manager kept rejecting them no matter how technically adept they were. When I brought up the high rate of rejection, the hiring manager explained that they were only interested in bringing on male applicants of a certain ethnicity.

Though that explanation was genuinely upsetting, I suggested the method of removing identifiers from applications, and we agreed to try it. From that point forward, I presented only candidates’ qualifications, and the acceptance rate went from near zero to over 95%.

3. Involve a hiring panel.

It’s common in recruiting to conduct a final panel-style interview. This is the opportunity for the candidate to meet their potential teammates and vice versa. Someone on the call may have reservations or be impressed just based on their initial perception of the candidate. Rather than letting this bias influence the interview, let the candidate’s qualifications and cultural fit come into play.

One way to mitigate bias with panel members is to ask them to listen in on calls with candidates rather than join by video. Just listening helps panelists focus on the substance of candidates’ answers rather than their appearance.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has biases, whether they realize it or not. Rather than allowing those biases to unfairly affect the hiring process, set up guardrails to guide the process toward more equitable outcomes. You’ll end up making more appropriate hiring decisions and, ideally, improving the candidate and employee experience.

Mid-Career

Mid-Career Employees and Their Impact on The Great Resignation

The Great Resignation has not hit the world of work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rates of resignation are highest among mid-career employees. Many of these workers are leaving their jobs and fields to pursue a new career path offering better job security or greater flexibility.

Mid-career workers are attractive to companies because of their skills and life experience. Skills like leadership, problem-solving, and multitasking transfer well to new roles and often give seasoned hires an advantage over younger workers.

It’s almost as if the entry-level openings don’t exist anymore: Thirty-five percent of “entry-level” openings require years of job experience. That’s higher in skill-heavy industries like tech, with 43% of college graduates leaving school without a job lined up. This will affect us for years to come.

We must tackle the dual-pronged issue of investing in these entry-level employees while also retaining our mid-level workers. Younger, less experienced hires need a chance to enter the workforce and get learning, and mid-level employees need to feel valued and cared for within their current roles.

Growing Your Retention Rates

Company leaders need to recognize that both mid-career and entry-level employees have essential roles to play in the success of their business. If they can nurture both experience levels, they can retain and onboard successfully and simultaneously.

To start, leaders need to acknowledge the hurdles that mid-career employees face. Forty-five percent of caregivers said they had considered leaving the workforce because of personal demands on their time, while 34% said they had “lost critical skills” in the past year.

To combat this life stress, mid-career employees need flexibility and understanding. Companies must develop permanent, sustainable methods of retaining talent via flexibility, including remote work, in-office childcare, and flex time. These employees also need the opportunity to gain skills (or grow existing skills) in an accessible, low-cost way.

Helping Employees Grow Their Skills

 Eighty-nine percent of employees are willing to reskill, but too few get the chance. Providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop professionally shows the company is invested in growth. Give employees of all levels some opportunities to skill up, and they will show their worth.

Teaching your employees will lead to better engagement — 2.9 times higher engagement than employees who don’t see opportunities to learn and grow. Upskilling opportunities are also a win for your company. It allows you to move existing employees into roles that are often difficult and costly to fill.

Be a Mentor

Mentorship programs have positive effects on both mentor and mentee, so even mid-career employees who aren’t interested in upskilling can still benefit. Taking a junior employee under their wing creates a sense of loyalty among mentors, boosting retention rates. A program could increase mentees’ communication skills, community engagement, goal-setting, and a sense of purpose — even if the mentee isn’t an entry-level worker.

Furthermore, mentorship is currently underutilized. That means companies adopting mentorship programs will stand out among competitors. As a result, you’ll gain another layer of protection against poaching while also making your business stand out from the crowd.

Companies don’t need a gimmick to make it through the Great Resignation; they need to evolve alongside our changing world. Changes to how we work and train workers are necessary to make it through this event. Utilizing a mentorship program will gain more engaged employees and gain better career outcomes.

developing a training program with better ROI

Developing a Training Program With Better ROI

Despite the economic downturn, training and professional development expenses in large companies rose from an average of $17.17 million in 2019 to $22 million in 2020. Similarly, small businesses also increased their investments in training by over $100,000. With so much money being spent, it would be easy to assume that companies of all sizes are seeing clear returns on their investments (ROI). Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. One study found that only 11% of employees actually end up applying the training they receive to their day-to-day work. Why is there such a disparity between spending and results? Is training at work even worth it? The answer is yes, and it’s time for companies to shift their focus to developing a training program with better ROI.

How Training Programs Fall Short

The problem isn’t with training so much as the way many organizations approach developing and implementing a training program. All too often, companies rush into these programs without reflecting on what’s really needed to support their objectives. Consequently, not enough work is done to understand the challenges employees face, how they learn best, and what sort of follow-ups are required.

As an HR leader, you must transition from implementing professional training for training’s sake to analyzing each program’s effectiveness and ROI. Even moving the needle a few percentage points could have a significant impact on employees’ success and your company’s bottom line.

Achieving Better ROI in Professional Training

Putting the focus on ROI isn’t as difficult as you might think. Actually, it just requires a little more planning before rushing into training implementation. The goal is to figure out what training methods work best for your organization and calculate the true costs of that training ahead of time.

Set up key performance indicators to measure the success of training programs. Additionally, employee assessments can be used during the training process to more accurately analyze organizational data and the benefits of training and development. The important thing is to turn training from something good in the abstract to a practical, measurable, and mutually beneficial process.

Focusing on ROI will help you create effective training strategies. With this in mind, here are a few steps that can help you focus on developing training programs with better ROI:

1. Develop an integrated education and talent management framework

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to the perfect training program, but the right framework can ensure a strategic alignment of objectives and outcomes. Select and align programs to the specific needs of your organization. If you currently have training programs that don’t fit into this new framework, cut them. Every initiative should be moving your employees in the right direction for your business.

2. Create a digital strategy.

Up to 77% of organizations in the U.S. already use e-learning. A digital approach to training is more flexible, easier to access, and more engaging. Today’s digital learning platforms incorporate a variety of different techniques to keep employees interested, including interactive quizzes, videos, and games. Tailor E-learning to each employee’s specific needs as it pertains to their position or role. Using assessments prior to training can better determine individual learners’ needs, motivations, and preferences. Far too often, the learner’s perspective is not captured when it comes to training. The right digital strategies can fix that.

3. Favor flexibility.

Training needs to adapt fast to the changing needs of consumers and the economy itself. The ability to rapidly adjust resources to serve learning needs as they arise is crucial. Locking into a top-down formal approach doesn’t accommodate this. Instead, emphasize flexibility in your content and delivery modes to stay agile.

4. Keep an eye out for silos.

Silos in training can result in duplicate programs and inefficient use of data. So, be sure to thread learning throughout the day-to-day operations of a business so it works alongside its objectives. Many training programs use what’s known as a 70:20:10 learning framework to address this. This means 70% of training occurs while working, 20% happens during collaboration, and 10% takes place through more formal means, such as classroom sessions.

You can reduce the silos that pop up by fostering intentional connections between training programs among different business units and HR programs. This will promote learning networks and help ensure stakeholder alignment when it comes to rollouts. You should also remove the silo between theoretical training and practical application by implementing real-life applications and leadership encouragement.

The Importance of Resiliency

Be sure to implement resiliency alongside other strategies in order to make the most of training. This has become a key human skill across HR departments as agility and adaption have become essential to survival.

Resiliency in the business world means drawing actionable insights out of a variety of different sources. The goal is to be ready to change course quickly while also planning for a longer-term evolution. Effective training strategies should incorporate resiliency in order to prepare employees for real-world work.

Teach your employees resiliency through individual virtual training and group activities. These methods not only help employees learn resiliency, but they also give you a better idea of how each person handles tough situations. From there, you can apply additional training where necessary.

Training is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Therefore, employers must reevaluate training regularly and adapt it accordingly so that it remains applicable to both your company’s and your employees’ goals. By emphasizing resiliency and focusing on creating flexible, practical training programs, you’ll see better results.

digital skills

Digital Upskilling to Close the Generation Gap

The enterprise and the workplace are increasingly influenced by technology and technology-driven processes. With digital upskilling becoming an increasing priority, this often comes with a new level of competency and a shift in demand on the skills required to fulfill the needs of a job.

This is particularly true in the insurance industry, where we are seeing a confluence of events. Such as accelerated digital transformation, rapidly-changing customer demands, and the migration to hybrid work models.

This has a direct effect on talent and the workforce.

As a result, many companies are increasing their investments in digital upskilling and reskilling their employees to prepare staff to capitalize on this golden market opportunity.

Building a Digital-Ready Workforce

With new digital tools, connected technologies, and better access to real time data, there is a balance between tried and true insurance methods. This includes new ways of analyzing information and insuring risk. Using new digital tools eliminates or automates repetitive tasks to free up talent to analyze and interpret client needs.

Reskilling, upskilling, and training employees is crucial for companies to build digital-ready workforces to carry their businesses into the future. This will lead to industry modernization and inspire teams to develop solutions that meet evolving customer needs.

Adopting Unique Learning Methods

According to Mercer’s 2021 Global Talent Trends Insurance Industry Outlook, insurance companies are 1.5 times more likely than other industries to develop skills related to innovation and adapting existing products. Additionally, insurers look to drive digital innovation and enhance the user experience to meet evolving customer needs.

This is great news for both current and budding insurance professionals. It is also a warning signal for carriers that are not investing the right time and resources in their talent.

New technology integral to the insurance industry presents an exciting ground for recent graduates. This is also true for employees from other fields looking to make a career transition. To take advantage of this opportunity, both employers and employees must take on a proactive learning mindset.

But appealing to everyone and their preferred way of receiving tools and technology training is a huge undertaking. When it comes to learning and development, teams have to think how to engage generations in the workforce today. While older generations are used to classroom learning, Gen Z and Millennials prefer YouTube videos or snippets of learning available. Companywide training programs incorporate different learning combinations, such as lecture, demo, and hands-on lab exercises.

Training to Suit All Ages

Incorporating the following steps, insurance industry leaders can train different generations across the tools required for learning and technology.

  • Determine the organization’s digital workforce goals: Identify the benefits leaders can expect from their digital upskilling investments and the steps that will be critical to the team’s success.
  • Connecting with the whole organization: Reskilling is not an individual project. Make sure training is available to staff across all levels and incorporate different learning styles to stay in tune with how everyone learns.
  • Provide recognition: Learning additional skills on top of an existing workload is not something that should be taken lightly. Rewarding staff for upskilling will help with employee morale, retention, and engagement.
  • Measuring success: Employees must embrace continuous learning so that reskilling does not fade. To mitigate this possibility, a digital workforce strategy must extend beyond learning and development to influence culture and ways of working.

Finding out which skills are missing across your organization and within specific teams will help you create a stronger workforce.

Embrace the Diversity of Different Generations

Having a range of ages on your staff adds value to the organization. As the age of retirement rises, companies need to explore adopting more inclusive policies to accommodate an older workforce.

Younger employees are more accustomed to rapidly developing technology and adapting to the changes it drives. Similarly, more mature employees have knowledge from the duration of their experience that can guide decision-making.

Creating an environment where all generations can learn from one another allows for mutually beneficial mentoring opportunities. When you have multiple generations in the workforce, those with more years of experience can advise younger employees on career development. Additionally, cross-generational mentoring will allow more junior employees to educate mature workers due to their familiarity with current trends and technology.

When it comes to reskilling and upskilling, it is not only about the generations already in the workforce, but companies also need to provide tools for those reentering the workforce. Reentering the workforce includes re-training of both technology and basic workplace skills.

Digital Upskilling is Here to Stay

As technologies evolve, the need for digitally skilled talent is not just for the short term. Insurers must foster a culture of innovation to develop skilled professionals internally – a culture that attracts them from the outside and helps retain them for the long haul.

One thing is certain: the insurance industry will continue to digitize to meet productivity goals and provide customers with an engaging experience. If companies can proactively address digital upskilling; customers, employees and the overall organization all benefit.

immersive training

Immersive Training Solutions for a Hybrid Work World

Remote workforce training has come of age. Forced to get creative during lockdowns, many companies moved beyond their traditional learning and development initiatives, exploring other education options. Those that reported excellent results usually had one thing in common: They embraced immersive technologies.

What does immersive technology look like? Think virtual reality or augmented reality. Both VR and AR training options allow people to feel like they’re in the midst of a situation without physically being in the room. And these educational experiences are not as untested as you might assume.

Though COVID ramped up the reliance on immersive education, immersive VR and AR solutions didn’t start in early 2020. They’ve evolved over the past decade. That’s why Mercedes-Benz began using Microsoft’s HoloLens to scale up widespread corporate training a few years ago, following in the footsteps of competitors like Ford and Volvo.

Advantages to VR and AR Training Solutions

You don’t have to be in the automotive field to get the benefits of immersive technologies to train your personnel, though. VR and AR training can be useful for organizations across a wide range of sectors, from engineering to oil to industrial operations.

For instance, some businesses opt for immersive training to help their employees understand how to approach complex situations. Others use immersive modalities for self-driven “practice,” as workers can run through scenarios countless times to perfect their abilities. But corporations don’t have to limit AR and VR to “hard skills.” Leadership, problem-solving, and other soft skills can come to life in a virtual format, too.

That doesn’t mean that you want to just jump into immersive training without a plan. It’s important to be prepared so you can successfully upskill a cross-section of your team cost-effectively and reliably. With those considerations in mind, you can move forward by paying attention to the following strategies:

1. Budget correctly for your immersive training program.

One of the biggest obstacles leaders face when trying to get executives to champion VR or AR training is the perceived costs. As with most technologies, the direct cost for software, equipment, and setup of VR and AR training has dropped over the years. Even VR headsets have become surprisingly affordable, not to mention much more comfortable than before. Nevertheless, the upfront price might seem too high—at first. However, you have to factor in all the ways that AR and VR can cut down on traditional expenses associated with training.

For instance, immersive training allows you to give the same message to all your people without transporting them anywhere. You don’t have to rent a conference room or pay for travel. Instead, you can put all your dollars toward scaling your training solution in a reliable, consistent way where efficiency nets greater ROI.

2. Take your immersive training on test runs.

During the pandemic, countless companies embraced immersive training out of necessity. Unless you’re under a time constraint, you can likely start smaller. Invest in some AR and VR technology programs, but don’t change everything you do regarding onboarding, upskilling, or reskilling.

What’s the simplest way to begin in a limited way? Find a partner who works in the immersive technology industry. Most providers will be able to help you develop VR and AR simulations that you can test on specific teams or employees. That way, you’ll be able to see how immersive technologies can be used across the rest of your business. You’ll also have an easier time getting higher-level champions to support more comprehensive VR and AR training due to your proof-of-concept information.

3. Collect data from every immersive training.

A huge boon to VR and AR training is the ability to collect scores of data. You can use the information you gather to better measure and even monetize your training sessions. An example might be to collect information on how many times your newest employees need to run through a certain simulation. If you notice that one simulation seems more challenging and takes longer to learn than others, you might want to consider ways to break it down into bite-size parts.

The more data you bring into the fold, the better you can make your VR and AR modules. This will help improve the learning across your workforce no matter where your employees plug in. And when you test different modules, you can see how they’re affecting other ones by examining the data.

Immersive training is set to become a norm at many firms and organizations, particularly with the uptick in telecommuting. Even if you’ve never considered adding VR or AR technology to your learning and development initiatives, take a second look at the possibilities. Classic in-person and e-learning models work, but they have limitations. Immersive training solutions can optimize education for all employees and corporate goals, making them excellent companions to your current lineup of training.

employee education

Employee Education: How to Avoid the ‘Forgetting Curve’

You’ve spent the day at a leadership conference learning all sorts of great things: how to coach your team, how to build engagement, how to run effective meetings, how to encourage career development, and more. You go back to work the next day with good intentions—but quickly lapse into your old habits.

Within a few weeks, you try to recall what you learned, but even with your notes, you have a hard time. What on Earth happened? If he were still alive, 19th-century psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus would have the answer: You just experienced the “forgetting curve.”

We’ve known for 126 years that the human brain doesn’t retain a lot in terms of memory, and Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve shows just how rapidly new information is lost if we don’t have the opportunity to put it into practice quickly. But just 12 percent of professionals use their newfound skills right away.

This means taking people out of work and putting them through a formal, structured class (where they might even be tested with the accompanying assumption they know what to do if they pass) and then putting them back in the workplace doesn’t actually influence the performance.

Being expected to retain large volumes of information all in one go is like trying to drink from a firehose—sure, you absorb a little bit, but the majority washes over you without sinking in. Fortunately, though, there are employee education tactics to make knowledge “stickier” and avoid the forgetting curve.

1. Give workers access to bite-sized learning.

When it comes to employee education, it’s common to bombard employees with large amounts of information. But most people, especially your high performers, are time-poor and constantly pulled in competing directions.

The way around time constraints is to give workers access to quick information that can be ingested in small bursts. For instance, a self-directed program of 15-minute modules allows employees to tap into knowledge at their point of need. So rather than spending a week learning about agile management, they get a distilled understanding of the principle that they can apply immediately.

Microlearning is also an effective way to improve uptake and engagement. Eighty-five percent of all educational content is either forgotten or rendered useless within six weeks of learning it, which indicates that traditional training might not be the most effective way for people to learn. Pandora is one example of a company that turned to microlearning for its workforce and saw training completion rates go from 15 percent to 90 percent. Busy people who might not be able to commit fully to an all-day event can usually find small nuggets of time to devote to a little education.

2. Encourage managers to follow up after training to help reinforce learning.

Having team members share how they’ve applied what they learned is one of the most effective ways to overcome the forgetting curve and to ensure behavior change (which is usually the goal of employee education). These informal interactions can be brief; think of them more as a huddle than a formal check-in, as discussing what has been learned in conversation can help make knowledge stick.

This is especially important after bringing new employees into the fold. Onboarding typically involves a large volume of information: “Here’s our tech system. Here’s how we do stuff.” Once onboarding is over, employees frequently experience the forgetting curve. Meeting with their team leaders to go over digestible chunks of the material they learned while onboarding helps with retention.

3. Stack new knowledge on top of prior knowledge.

Another way to bypass the effects of the forgetting curve in employee education is to build learning experiences. For example, an employee would need to be able to demonstrate and apply specific behaviors before learning something else. This type of information “stacking” creates a strong foundation and avoids learning loss. Over time, the lower levels of the “stack” become more and more ingrained.

Be careful, though: Not all knowledge “belongs” on top of other knowledge. Learning has to make sense for your employee. Take the idea of a public speaking course for a performer who doesn’t have a speaking engagement planned. The material may seem unnecessary, making it more likely to be forgotten before it can be applied.

To ensure that you’re stacking knowledge efficiently, request feedback from your team members. You can always fix something that’s not working.

4. Create training opportunities that are easily accessible and device-agnostic.

People in need of information don’t always want to read about the topic. Many people are visual or auditory learners. Or they may want to interact kinesthetically with curricula if possible. Be certain that you’re offering training that meets people’s learning needs and preferences.

Similarly, be sure that all employee education content is accessible on any device. Use laptops, tablets, smartphones and desktops for learning purposes. The more user-centric your learning content is, the more it will become a reliable resource.

Calculate which types of devices or learning styles are being used most often by your team. Maybe the majority of employees seem to tune into podcast-style micro-content on their smartphones, in which case you might like to add more audio formats to your learning toolkit.

5. Go for a blended learning approach that still includes formal learning.

Formal learning has a place in corporate training, as long as it’s equally as engaging and effective as other types of education. Intersperse formal learning with other types of employee education, such as microlearning, feedback loops, and self-directed learning.

When designing your learning processes, go for a blended approach with multiple touchpoints. Don’t just have a lecture-style marathon. Instead, add a post-workshop task and follow-up sessions to round out the learning and reinforce the transfer of knowledge.

The forgetting curve may be a proven phenomenon, but there are certainly ways to overcome it! Just put a few measures in place, and you’ll have far less forgetting—and far more employees eager to show off their mettle.

skill development

The Value of Self-driven Skill Development [Podcast]

For many employees, a job isn’t simply the act of doing some work and collecting a paycheck anymore. For example, Millennial employees live in what some are calling an “identity economy,” where they place value on their work and want it to have meaning. They’re demanding more thorough training, and they don’t want to stop learning or become stagnant in their roles.

While it is great that employees want to deliver more value to businesses, many organizations don’t have the processes in place to empower them to do so. As workers become more invested in skill development, HR departments and managers should offer employees more opportunities to grow and adapt. They need to consider how they can offer employees collections of valuable information to make skill-building convenient, accessible, and rewarding.

Our Guest: Ike Bennion and Henry Vasquez, Cornerstone

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Ike Bennion, the director of product marketing, innovation and strategy at Cornerstone, and Henry Vasquez, manager of product management for Cornerstone’s Skills & Capabilities products. Ike has written and presented on various HR functions, including AI, recruitment, learning, content, and benefit strategy. Henry has 10+ years experience in software development with a strong understanding of enterprise knowledge management, talent management, and productivity software. Cornerstone is a founding member of the Velocity Network, which puts people in control of their data by helping them accumulate a digital wallet filled with their validated experiences, skills, certifications and licenses, and more.

Why should brands care about self-driven skills development?

“They should care because there’s a lot of redeployment of skills happening in the marketplace today,” Ike says. “We aren’t necessarily seeing job roles disappear while new jobs are created in their places. But we’re seeing skills move from position to position.”

Basically, to prepare employees for these changes, employers need to develop a library of resources that empower employees to learn.

“Employees need a robust library of resources at their fingertips to adapt to whatever the day looks like,” Ike says. “So for employers considering whether to offer this to employees, the question is: Do you want a competitively skilled workforce or do you not? If the answer is yes, then think about how you’re going to offer the right resources to the right employees.”

Personalizing the Skill Development Experience

Leaders need to take on the role of driving skill development, Henry explains. In short, they need to determine where individual employees will succeed and how they can grow. Once they’ve done that, they can offer badges, points, and other incentives to fuel people’s desire for skill development.

“If you can convince your leadership team to lead by example–watch webinars, take college courses, upskill–you can build an extremely effective skill development culture,” Henry says. “You can also offer regular career development check-ins to make sure employees are doing what they want to do. If you don’t create space for those check-ins, work just becomes tactical, and you’re not really focusing on the employee.” 

Managers can inspire employees to focus on skill development by focusing on social engineering and currency. They can put skill development into the context of helping the company to succeed. This will drive people to want to engage with learning. Leaders can show their direct reports that hard work and upskilling has an impact and reward them for doing so.

“When you know everyone else is learning, it makes you want to get involved. By championing knowledge sharing, you’re motivating the people,” Henry says. “When you share knowledge and you’re being heard, your expertise is valued. And that creates a great social ecosystem of learning.” 

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends sponsored by Cornerstone. You can learn more about the value of self-driven skill development by reaching out to Ike Bennion and Henry Vasquez on LinkedIn.

ROI of L&D

Learning ROI – It’s Time to Shift the Narrative

Learning and development (L&D) is driving big investments for businesses, with estimates of $96.3 billion spent in 2017 alone. With steep costs associated with L&D, it stands to reason that business leaders would want to see their ROI, but this poses a problem: It’s impossible to calculate ROI of learning the way we do other areas of investment because ROI is traditionally a financial calculation, while learning is a deeply human process. To think of it any differently will result in an imperfect assessment of the value of L&D.

ROI is traditionally focused on causation — if you invest this much, you’ll get this much back — and this model works fine for many types of spending, such as marketing (e.g. SEO optimization spend yields X increase in clickthru rates). But the elements of causality are hard to find in uncontrolled environments like companies and classrooms. Once we accept that causation is not a viable measurement for learning, the next step is identifying the mechanism that will help determine learning ROI — correlation.

From in-person conferences and live online courses to self-directed access to problem solving, companies are providing a diverse range of learning resources. Correlations between the use of these resources and business outcomes can be found in a number of places. For instance, most organizations have the ability to track their employees’ “touchpoints” — engagements with their learning programs, online or in person — and to determine how frequently they participate. Many organizations may also have a system for tracking performance and potential, often rating or ranking on both dimensions. By using the information provided by these systems, L&D leaders can map learning engagement to an organization’s most important goals and employee measurements.

In looking at this data, you might find that your organization’s highest performers are also the most engaged learners, and that correlation can point to direct business value. Further, if you see that high-performers are performance-adjacent learners — meaning they jump in and out of a company’s learning tools to get answers — then it can be further surmised that this approach has a direct impact and value to the business while simultaneously justifying investment in learning tools.

Conversely, the lowest performers in an organization, as determined before learning measurement begins, offer a chance to chart improvement with learning resources. Their improvement helps L&D leaders make the case that these resources are directly helping employees gain skills. If those same employees are measured by engagement, there can be further measurements to determine whether and how employees who interact with learning programs reach proficiency faster than those who engage less frequently.

To best measure the impact of L&D, follow this five-point checklist:

Examine critical business and HR metrics and then correlate learner engagement and learner behavior with those metrics.
Work to align learning engagement metrics with the things the business inherently values. Insights such as how often your best performing employees use your online environment and for how long can suggest ways that other employees can better succeed.

Don’t get trapped into overselling smile sheets or other Kirkpatrick Model Level One or Level Two assessments.
Such assessments can certainly be useful, but they are limited because they can’t accurately measure future skill retention or application. For example, while a pre- and post-test for tangible, fact-based information that you want to be disseminated might be somewhat helpful, it’s important to be cautious in interpretation. Such tests most likely tell you that the learner can recall what was just taught, but the tests suggest nothing about behavior changes or business impact.

Play the long game and set expectations.
Make sure the business leaders in your organization understand that the outcome of learning interventions must be observed over time and might sometimes feel intangible. Talk with management about their own experiences in learning a new skill or functional area — how did they or anyone else measure their success? Additionally, outline the data you plan to gather and report back to leadership throughout the entire program. This commitment should allow you to discuss how, over time, the investment will pay off.

Create a targeted strategy around Kirkpatrick Model Level Three and Level Four assessments.
Some companies offer dozens or even hundreds of possible learning experiences every year. For these organizations, it’s too burdensome to send out observation teams or to collect observational survey data for every experience. Rather, identify a few learning experiences that have the greatest possible impact and seem feasible to observe. Spend energy around Level Three and Level Four assessments in these areas only.

Argue table stakes, not sweepstakes.
While measurement is important, it’s time to make the case with senior leaders and key funding decision makers that new factors have changed the game. According to a recent Dale Carnegie survey, 87 percent of millennials say that professional development and career growth are significant to them. The same survey found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent. These are numbers that should not be ignored or taken lightly. What’s more, the war for talent is not slowing, and it’s costly to attract and replace talent. A recent study by Udemy found that 46 percent of employees say that limited opportunities to learn new skills is the top reason why they are bored in their current roles and, as a result, 61 percent of those employees are likely to change jobs to pursue opportunities that are more rewarding.

Development opportunities are now crucial to maintaining a competitive workforce, and L&D must be recognized as affecting not only performance but also talent retention, employee engagement and other business metrics. Correlation helps us draw lines between L&D engagement metrics and mission-critical organizational goals, which makes it easier for business leaders to recognize the value of L&D. When we shift our view to this vantage point, L&D professionals will be empowered to tell meaningful, data-driven stories that align with the goals of their organizations.

 

employee learning program

How Coursera Encourages Its Millennial Employees to Keep Learning

Training and development are crucial to an organization’s growth and success. Employees need professional development to grow and be promoted to roles requiring more responsibility. Millennials are looking for more learning opportunities at work. This may be one reason that corporate training and development spending rose in 2017.

One company, Coursera, has achieved success by offering online courses to help people develop the skills they need to be successful at work. Coursera’s own workforce is relatively young, and Ian Stuart, Director of Learning and Development, explains how the company provides useful professional development for a millennial workforce.

Focus on the Big Picture

The amount of time a typical employee spends on learning development is decreasing over time. “In fact, one survey by Josh Bersin found that the typical employee spends 24 minutes per week (1% of their time) on their own development, which is a significant decrease over time,” Stuart says.

He doesn’t think that employees don’t want to learn; it’s just hard for them to find time to learn. “That’s why you need a targeted approach to learning,” Stuart says. “Connecting it to something that’s bigger, something that’s more important for the entire company, is really important for motivating people to learn.”

Stuart’s approach is connecting learning with the broader organizational goals, using company-level initiatives as drivers for developing learning platforms.

For example, when the organization was focused on rolling out a new performance-management system with 360 feedback, he created a series of learning resources and a workshop on feedback. “People needed to learn some best practices for giving and receiving feedback, so they could be tactful while sharing constructive feedback,” Stuart says. However, instead of just teaching them the process, he was also clear in explaining why feedback was important for their culture and how it connects to Coursera’s values as a company.

Learn to Lead

Many of Coursera’s senior employees are between 8 and 12 years into their careers, while the majority of employees are in their mid-to-late 20s. As a result, a lot of the training is foundational , because for some of the workers, this is their first job out of college.

Stuart says the company is encouraging their employees to take charge and bring ideas to fruition. “Culturally, we’re just trying to help people understand that they can get involved, they can have an idea and they can mobilize people to see that the idea is a good one, or they see a problem and they can mobilize people to solve it.”

Thriving at this level of autonomy and self-direction has to be taught. “There’s still a tendency for a lot of young people to look to the hierarchy for permission, or to look to people who are in positions of formal authority when things aren’t going well, rather than trying to solve the problem themselves,” he says. But the company wants to give employees concrete avenues for solving problems. “We need people to take charge and act like leaders at every level, so that’s another part of the culture that we’re trying to build,” Stuart says.

Prepare for the Future

Coursera is a customer of their own enterprise learning product, Coursera for Business, and the company has created Coursera for Coursera, a series of online courses focused on specific skills. There’s a collection for core business skills, a collection for leadership and management, a collection for technical skills for people in technical roles and technical skills for people in nontechnical roles. “I’ve curated the content in our program to match the broader skill areas that people need to build,” Stuart says.

He’s also working with the company’s more senior engineers — including Jon Wong, who is spearheading this project — to give junior engineers a broad understanding of how the different technologies they use at Coursera work, exposing people to different programming languages, tools, and platforms. “We’re trying to give all of our engineers a common baseline of knowledge. It’s a leadership opportunity for our more senior engineers, and eventually I’m hoping it leads to more internal mobility.”

employee-learning

How 3 Innovative Companies Are Rethinking Learning at Work

According to a 2017 survey, 71 percent of employees have had to undergo training to either keep or advance forward in a position. Nearly half say they have not been able to advance due to a lack of training.

This is a twofold problem for employers. Companies not offering learning opportunities may be hindering the professional growth of their employees, which in turn negatively affects the organization. But even when companies provide opportunities to learn, training is often perceived as being cumbersome, time-consuming, inconvenient and even irrelevant.

Looking for new ways to get employees involved in their own professional development? Take a page from three innovative companies that are rethinking their approach to learning at work, and producing a more engaged workforce.

Deloitte

Deloitte’s learning process integrates gamification: The company has literally made learning a game. The firm originally struggled to get employees and client companies to take online courses in executive training through The Deloitte Leadership Academy. By incorporating game mechanics — such as leaderboards, badges and missions — Deloitte reported a 50 percent faster course-completion rate and a 36 percent greater weekly retention rate. Deloitte’s use of competition, fun and design have helped to create a learning process that is informative and engaging.

Inspirus

Inspirus is taking another approach to make learning less cumbersome. Theresa Harkins, VP of Client Success and Engagement Solutions, understands the importance of making learning more palatable. “Delivering learning in a fun and interactive manner drives business outcomes while engaging employees,” she says.

The Inspirus approach involves microlearning. “Microlearning consists of short, five-minute bursts of content available via mobile devices that can be easily blended into a workday, and that empowers the user to learn anywhere at any time,” Harkins says. “Our clients are realizing that employees don’t have as much time to attend a training class or take an hourlong online course.”

Four Day Weekend

Four Day Weekend is committed to making learning more fun for everyone. The improv comedy troupe has a corporate division that meets with companies to build communication and other skills through skits. Every high-energy show is different, since it’s tailored for each client. The troupe’s roster of clients includes American Airlines, FedEx Office, Southwest Airlines and Hyatt Corporation.

One key theme in their work is the build-upon concept of “yes, and” as a way to encourage creativity and embrace new ideas. The goal of such a skit is to never say no, and that leads to some pretty funny scenarios. The troupe allows the audience to participate by suggesting words that can worked into the skit.

These are just three companies using new approaches to make learning both informative and engaging. Use these as a jumping-off point to innovation in your own organization.