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How to rebuild employee/employer relations through L&D

Vincent Belliveau, Chief International Officer - Cornerstone

Strengthening economic headwinds, geo-political unrest, a cost-of-living crisis, and a skills shortage – these are just some of the challenges that are upending traditional business operational models and forcing organisations to rapidly pivot. For instance, in the UK, a staggering 467,000 working days were lost due to strike action in November 2022. Additionally, in France, more than 1.27 million people walked out just this week, in protest of plans to raise the pension age from 62 to 64.

Amid all this upheaval, it’s no surprise that HR is being caught in the crosshairs of change. Demands are changing, and employees are more vocal than ever before. HR leaders need to pay close attention and revolutionise their strategy as they plan for the future of their workforce and workplace. As the world attempts to ride these relentless and restless waves of change, one overarching insight is clear – it’s time to rebuild the employee-organisation relationship.

Education and learning will drive shared growth
According to PWC, 77% of adults would learn new skills now or completely retrain to improve their future employability. By reorienting organisations around skills, HR can better understand talent to dynamically meet needs. The recent Cornerstone People Research Lab report, titled “Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage: Your Path Through the Wilderness”, which delved into learning, HCM, and content trends for 2023, predicted that organisations will continue to democratise learning – which is even more important in these times of economic volatility.

Organisations can continue to use the power of learning experience platforms (LXPs) to democratise teaching and learning. This allows HR leaders to collect, curate, and deliver personalised content at any moment of need, not just during the initial onboarding of a new hire. From reskilling to remobilising, an LXP provides unified, relevant, and engaging learning experiences for all employees. Additionally, to help tackle the challenges organisations will be facing this year, “capability academies” will be the future of the Learning and Development (L&D) function – a process involving projects, feedback, mentors, coaches, and lots of stretch assignments. Through these, people will learn not just by seeing, but by doing, and employees who “do” and “learn” on the job will pick up and retain skills quicker and easier.

As organisations continue to harness the power of learning, this will transform the workforce into a connected engine of growth, agility, and mobility. Ultimately, this drives a sense of inclusion and autonomy, which fuels satisfaction, retention, and growth.

Curated content should empower and unify
The learning content landscape is changing fast and from every direction. Employees want instant access to personalised content for their preferred learning modality, to eventually establish a happier, more supportive workplace. Cornerstone’s report identified three key content areas that employees are demanding:

  • Growth in sustainability. A 100% increase in demand for corporate and workplace sustainability learning content between 2021 and 2022. It’s clear that this demand for sustainability focused content will become a priority for employees over the coming years. Overall, businesses need to motivate and engage employees to autonomously control when, where and how they work. Moreover, it is critical for employers to foster clear, equitable pathways for career development.
  • DEIB – Growth in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. In 2022 there was a 7.7x increase in demand for self-directed diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) learning content compared to 2021, reflecting how companies need to prioritise DEIB to create inclusive workplaces. By investing in DEIB training, organisations are reimagining the people experience and creating a safe and supportive working environment that allows all employees to thrive.
  • Growth in health and wellbeing. Between 2021 and 2022, there was also a 1.4x increase in demand for self-directed health and wellbeing learning content. Empathy and understanding cannot be lost in the workplace, so an increased focus on employee health and wellbeing will generate greater ROI through the number of sick days taken, retention and employee net promoter score (NPS).

Harnessing HCM elevates the employee experience
Too often, Human Capital Management (HCM) data is locked away in hard-to-reach siloed systems. This fragmented view makes it difficult to manage HR with reliable, real-time data and diminishes the employee experience. There are three key elements of HCM that businesses should consider in 2023.

The first is AI.  For HR, AI has the potential to be transformative. The technology is far from new, but the next year will see an increase in its usage to enable organisations to better predict the skills needed in the future. Tighter alignment will be another key area of focus. Greater coherence between an organisation’s HR strategy and the everyday needs of its people will also help to close the skills gap and drive business growth. HR leaders should consider transformative trends taking place in the market – like the cost-of-living crisis, or geopolitical conflict – and the widening chasm between employers delivering skills to employees and employees’ confidence in their company’s ability to develop their skills. Finally, 2023 will see the emergence of innovative retention programmes to meet modern, challenging employee expectations. Employees were once happy with free pizza on a Friday, but now prefer empowered career development, real-time performance feedback, and continuous lifelong learning, especially amongst millennials and Gen Z.

Organisations across the world face dramatically different circumstances depending on their locations, industries, cultures, and many other variables. However, resilience is critical to all of them. Talent leaders are the key to connecting people to growth opportunities, and business goals to purpose, allowing everyone to achieve extraordinary outcomes. By listening, learning, and implementing what employees want, businesses can help reshape the employee experience, rebuild the employee-organisation relationship, and create a happier and more productive workforce for all.

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