As ominous 2020 comes to an end, one thing is clear- COVID-19 is here to stay, and the future depends on a lot of unknowns. The pandemic has changed our world and our world of work permanently. From its crippling effect on world economies to the massive shift it has brought in the world of work as far acceleration of remote working and flexibility in workforce management to integration of work and life is concerned, the year has taught us much.
What’s also clear is that it’s time to embark on a journey that is meaningful, purpose-driven, and people-centric. As we move into the year 2021, it’s time to reset work norms that are more human, more productive, and more inclusive. What are these key issues that leaders need to reweigh and plan for the year 2021? What is going to be HR’s new role?
In an exclusive interaction with us, Kartik Krishnamurthy, Managing Director, Cornerstone On Demand Asia, sheds more light on how reskilling in an agile way is pivotal for 2021 and what solutions can enable leaders to tackle the confidence gap in the efficacy of skills-based learning programs.
Cornerstone OnDemand is a people development company that believes people can achieve anything when presented with the right development and growth opportunities. It offers organizations the technology, content, expertise, and specialized focus to help them realize the potential of their people. Cornerstone’s people development solutions are used by approximately 6,300 clients of all sizes, spanning more than 75 million users across over 180 countries and nearly 50 languages.
Here are key highlights from the interview-
What are some leadership lessons taught by COVID-19?
There are four key leadership lessons that the pandemic has taught us-the first one being most business travel was non-essential. It has shown that most of the work, in terms of productivity, can be done without the travel.
Secondly, the pandemic has also accelerated the digital transformation across companies. Both companies and people were caught off guard and that acceleration and pivot that people had to make were very stark.
Thirdly, it continues to be reinforced that people are our most important assets. We focus far too much on what technology can do rather than building skills within our people so that they and the company can be successful.
Lastly, what’s important is the true meaning of work-life balance, family, and spending time with them.
With the coronavirus pandemic altering the way we work, it also offered the possibility for HR and talent leaders to accelerate to digital and enable their workers to stay productive amid this chaos. What are some of the trends you have seen across organizations?
We have seen five big HR trends across our clients globally. The first one being our clients looking to update operating HR models so as to how do the HR and the organization become more nimble and agile.
The second trend was about modernizing the employee experience-how do you make sure that your employee experience is scalable, curated, and personalized to who the individual is within your organization. The third trend was of streamlining and automating key HR processes through AI and Machine Learning.
The fourth trend was about leveraging data-how do you make sure that HR is using data not just for HR decisions but for business decisions.
Last but not the least, how do we improve the workforce’s digital dexterity-how do we create a culture of continuous learning among organizations.
How do you think investments in HR Tech have grown this year and what do you think is going to be the trend in the coming year?
We all know the future is going to be AI and its impact on the world of work is being well documented. Cornerstone has recently embarked on the creation of an AI innovation lab. It is all going to be about the internet of things moving into the internet of careers. Blockchain technologies and AI will have a significant impact on HR for instance in background checks, which is normally the last phase of hiring. Blockchain technology can enable us to do all those background checks ahead of time. This can be done through the creation of an employee digital passport that will help us hire quickly and more accurately. Similarly, it can be applied to past learning and certificates from their previous lives, which through blockchain can be carried over to their new organizations. For instance, courses taken on the Cornerstone LMS can be stored on a blockchain ledger.
Blockchain’s third impact will be on how you elevate HR through more structured data so that it can enable you to predict retention risk, identify new skill sets and help succession planning-all the things that business wants HR to focus on.
What do you think the future holds for HR in a data-driven world post the pandemic? What is going to be HR’s new role?
HR always fought for a seat at the table and now it’s HR that’s setting the table. They are literally now in the middle of what an organization needs to do from the growth and strategy perspective. Hence HR needs to be more data-driven, they need to align with the overall corporate initiatives and objectives rather than just do HR for the sake of HR anymore.
Reskilling in an agile way is pivotal for 2021. Could you share some insights from your recent report “A License to Skill: Embracing the Reskilling Revolution" on the same?
Three broad themes came out of this pivotal study done by Cornerstone. First was that organizations, leaders, and employees have rallied around the importance of skills. But there is a gap between what employers believe skill development needs to be and what employees believe is happening on the ground.
Secondly, employees are losing hope and they are falling far behind. The speed of technology will continue to accelerate and cause stress and anxiety. So the question that arises is how do you help your employees to ride that wave of new technologies coming in and focus on their skills.
The third observation is that organizations have a unique opportunity to provide a very clear, practical path of skills development going forward as they are able to map the skills inside their organization, what kind of jobs do employees have, and what is the kind of learning they need to do as they think about growth in the organization.
What are some of the solutions that can enable leaders to tackle the confidence gap in the efficacy of skills-based learning programs?
Technology should not be adopted for the sake of technology to tackle the confidence gap. According to us, it all boils down to whether you understand the skills of the employees in your organizations; then based on that understanding, how do you match it to projects, job scopes, and lastly, and how do you think about their learning. So this holy grail is about keeping employees at the center of what we all need to do, making these jobs agile and flexible, bring a consumerization experience to them, and keep them contextualized.