Digital skills as a business lever, here’s how to invest in human capital

The pandemic has led to the world’s largest experiment on smart work and hybrid work.

Workers and companies have found themselves operating in a context of profound change, in which the former have recognized, as never before, that the development of new skills is essential for their personal growth, while the latter have understood that investment in human capital it is fundamental. to support growth and innovation.

The cornerstone search “Prosper in the global shortage of skills paints the picture of how employers and employees value investing in skills, the ability to influence outcomes in personnel and company management, and their company’s response to the pandemic.

“We interviewed 1,800 workers and 800 business leaders in North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. What we have found, explains Marc Altimiras, Cornerstone’s vice president of sales and account management, is a statistically significant gap between employees and employers in terms of confidence in the company’s ability to effectively support business development. ‘abilities. We call this phenomenon: ‘skills gap’ ”.

The confidence gap widens from 2020 to 2021

In 2020, the gap between managers and employees compared to their company in the ability to develop skills was 30 percentage points. This result gave voice to workers ’uncertainty about the future. Unfortunately, the gap has not narrowed in 2021. While employers ’confidence in their ability to understand and respond to needs increased during the year in question, the level of employees dropped even further: only 53% think that the creation of new opportunities for employees is a priority for the company. In Italy the percentage rises to 55%.

Whether it’s time, focus, the right resources, or other reasons, therefore, employees don’t believe their companies make skills a priority.

“The confidence gap is not the same in all companies. The more companies and staff agree that a company prioritizes opportunities to develop quality skills, the more successful the company tends to be, ”says Marc Altimiras.

What the report calls “high-performing companies” places much more emphasis on skills development, and its employees agree that this investment is effective, with an 11% difference between employers and employees at the level of world, but 0% in Italy. Which means that in our country, there is a maximum alignment.

In contrast, in Italy, not only do the worst performing companies give much lower priority to skills development, but less than 13% of their employees recognize that skills development is an important goal, with a 24% gap. The gap increases to 42% globally.

High-performing companies, an example to follow

In 2021, 64% of employers in Italy said they expected priority attention to skills development over the next year, while only 12% believed this would not happen for five years. As for high-performing companies globally, 72% of respondents said they expect priority attention to skills development over the next year.

Low-performing companies have placed staff training and growth second on their list of priorities, while their employees rank seventh. What low- and medium-performing companies say is important does not match the experience of employees in those same companies.

“We have also asked how important the development of skills is in the global experience that the company aims to offer employees,” continues Altimiras. 100% of the companies of high performance consider it fundamental, whereas only 33% of the companies of low performance share this position ”.

How are employees trained?

Employees of high-performing companies depend heavily on the company’s skills and professional development platform, internal mentors, and their direct managers.

91% of employees in these companies worldwide say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the skills development solutions offered by their company, compared to 52% of low-performing companies.

What do high-performing companies do compared to others to achieve such a high degree of satisfaction?

97% prioritize training and professional growth technologies, training content, school and university education, mentoring and training programs, and on-the-job skills training.

They invest heavily in developing skills for all their key figures.

A comparison between high-performing and low-performing firms also reveals a notable difference in their respective views on the role of talent and development activities for:

  • foster employee growth (97% vs. 69%);
  • contribute to the achievement of the company’s objectives (97% compared to 69%);
  • offer employees a guided and personalized professional career (95% versus 60%);
  • offer employees the opportunity to acquire skills of their interest (96% vs. 61%).

“High-performance companies are a role model in the development of skills to get out of the fog of recent years,” said Marc Altimiras, VP, Sales & Account Management at Cornerstone. In fact, they are more likely to invest in numerous initiatives and resources for skills development, such as training and professional growth technologies, training content, and school education. They understand the value of building skills both for their talent management initiatives and for the overall success of the company. In doing so, they create an environment in which employees want to stay and continue to grow. ”

Five concrete steps

Cornerstone highlights 5 key actions for a more modern approach to developing skills and becoming a high-performing company

  1. Focus on the future. It is helpful to work with other talent management teams to understand what skills will be most important in the future, identify gaps, and fill them. According to the study, 82% of employees of high-performing companies believe that their company is aware of future skills shortages.
  2. Integrate the acquisition of skills with other professional growth tools. 74% of employees worldwide want to receive more complete and specific guidance for their career. By integrating the guidelines for skills development and career path, it is easier for employees to define a growth path by having a vision of the skills needed and how these apply to internal mobility.
  3. Create a culture of skills development and growth. 95% of employees in high-performing companies recognize that the company demonstrates a sense of responsibility toward its employees and helps them advance in their careers. Hiring leaders, integrating the issue of skills into the talent debate, and creating a dedicated resource for skills acquisition are key activities with which companies demonstrate to employees that they are on a path to growth.
  4. Provide more relevant, modern, and personalized content to those looking for skills. First, you need to think of your business as a “skill incubator”. Because? The first stop for 40% of employees looking for information on skills development and professional growth within the company is the company’s skills and updating platform. In high-performing companies, this percentage is even higher. In addition, employees clearly say they want to receive more training content from their employers. Almost 80% say they want more content. Therefore, companies have a great opportunity to rethink and renew their strategies for delivering training content. They should aim to expand access to high quality and up-to-date content in different ways, in different languages ​​and on different topics. Enriching the content offer, directly aligning the content with the training activities and customizing the content as it is offered to each employee, increases the time spent on skills development and ensures that employees grow from the hand of the company. and their needs.
  5. Focus on internal mobility. For high-performing companies, cultivating talent internally is the top priority to fill skills gaps, while low-performing companies declare their intention to hire abroad for the next three years. The commitment to internal hiring encourages employees to develop new skills, knowing that the organization values ​​and rewards employees by assigning them new positions in the company.


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