Is there a confidence gap between businesses and their people?


Cornerstone OnDemand have published a new workforce trends report from the Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) titled A License to Skill: Embracing the Reskilling Revolution. The research report claims that while organisational leaders and employees have rallied around the importance of skills, there remains a confidence gap in the efficacy of skills-based learning programmes that advance careers and innovation in the business.

Conducted as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded in the spring of 2020, the unique two-part survey compares the views of 1,000 employees and 500 business leaders from across the world, which included C-level executives and HR managers. The findings shed light on a heightened focus on skills development as a means to achieve critically needed agility.

The research also suggests the extreme workplace volatility caused by the pandemic. Across the board — from employees to HR leaders to executives — the modern workplace will be vastly transformed by the events of 2020: 76 percent of employees, 88 percent of HR leaders and 91 percent percent of non-HR executives believe the challenges their organisations are facing due to the crisis will significantly alter their daily work experiences in the future.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Organisations can begin to close the skills development confidence gap that ultimately limits agility in the face of change”[/perfectpullquote]

These results suggest organisations have a unique opportunity to provide a clear, practical path forward for skills development, which is more essential and urgent today than ever before. By illuminating the impact of the crisis, as well as the current state of workplace learning and skills development programmes, the research uncovered the following insights:

• There’s a gap in confidence between business leaders and employees when it comes to organisations’ ability to develop the skills of their people. While both employers and employees are increasingly prioritising the development of individual skills, proficiencies and capabilities to propel their success, the research suggests employee responses were in stark contrast to overall organisational conviction. 90 percent of leaders feel confident in their ability to develop the skills of their employees and 87 percent believe their organisations are adequately equipped with the right learning resources. On the other hand, only 60 percent of employees feel confident in their organisation’s ability to develop their skills for the future, and nearly 40 percent feel they are not enabled by the learning resources provided. This confidence gap suggests a need to analyse organisational investments in skills development programs to improve the talent experience.

• A culture of learning must first prepare the soil in which learning can take place. The greatest challenges that get in the way of employee skill development are time, money, direction and availability of learning content. According to respondents, time is the most significant barrier, with 61 percent selecting that as a major roadblock. In addition, nearly half of employees felt concerned that their role would change significantly in the next few years and 30 percent of employees were concerned that their jobs wouldn’t be needed. With the unease created by uncertainty and disengagement, talent leaders face both a challenge and an opportunity to address this unease by creating a holistic learning culture to address all aspects of work life. To do that, learning must happen at the time of need and must be hyper-personalised to the individual, all with an eye for improving employees’ perceptions and experiences.

• Employees want to create a sense of meaning through their careers. In fact, 66 percent of respondents said meaningful work was “extremely” or “very” important when choosing an employer to work for, and 65 percent said the same for competitive pay. In order to give employees the hope they seek, companies must transform managers into coaches by providing them with tools to better understand their individual employees – such as their deep skills profiles, interests, personal and professional aspirations – to create people experiences that takes the whole person into consideration.

• Organisations are optimistic about using technology to enable and scale skills development. In the survey research, when leaders were asked about their people development tactics and priorities, the top-two response sets from businesses cite technology to enable and scale skills development (42 percent), as well as technical training in STEM areas (42 percent), followed by the desire to improve learning in the flow of work (41 percent), leadership training (40 percent) and social learning opportunities (38 percent).

Although business leaders are confident in their ability to develop their workforces, the fact that their employees don’t share the same level of confidence signals there is much more work to be done. Particularly when over 50 percent of business leaders anticipate developing internal talent as the primary means of filling their organisation’s skills gaps over the next few years.

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni