Managers out of touch with employees


Global research reveals confidence and capability gap between business leaders and employees that could slow economic recovery

Business leaders and employees are aligned when it comes to rating the importance of skills development within an organisation, but poles apart when it comes to the confidence they will achieve it, according to worldwide research commissioned by Cornerstone OnDemand, a global leader in cloud-based learning and human capital management software. 

While 90 per cent of business leaders are confident of their ability to develop the skills of their employees, only 60 per cent of employees felt assured of their employer’s ability to deliver the right resources to be able to develop those skills. 

Similarly, while 87 per cent of senior leaders felt equipped with their company’s resources to develop employee skills, only 62 per cent of employees believed the same, with an alarming 26 per cent strongly disagreeing their company had the resources to build employee skills. 

The global research “Making Skills of the Future a Reality for all” was undertaken in March and April 2020, just as the effects and reverberations of COVID on the economy were being understood. The research was conducted in two tranches and measured the views of 500 Global business leaders of companies with more than 500 employees, including 145 from the APAC region. It also measured the views of 1,000 employees across the world, including 299 from APAC. 

“As the global economy grapples with the fall-out from COVID, the future of businesses, and employees’ careers, will be contingent on developing skills of the future,” Cornerstone OnDemand’s Australian Managing Director Sue Turk. 

“Alarmingly, our research found a wide gap between the perceptions of employees and business leaders when it came to a roadmap of priorities to develop the teams of the future. And it comes at a time when we need to work together more than ever towards economic recovery,” she continues.

The results found that as COVID took hold, almost half of all employees surveyed (47%) were concerned their role will change significantly over the next few years, and nearly a third of respondents (30%) held concern their position would not be required at all in the next few years. 

The majority of employers and employees accurately predicted their daily work experience would be altered because of COVID, with 76% of employees ranging from slightly agreeing to strongly agreeing with that statement. Almost all non-HR execs (91%) agreed with the statement, with a similar number of HR execs (88%) concurring. 

While COVID itself was not an attributable answer, 21 per cent of employee respondents were concerned their role would become too technical for them to continue, and 20 per cent worried more qualified candidates would fill their role. 

The disconnect between employees and employers is even more apparent when it comes to employee fears, that they will be replaced by someone more qualified. 

In contrast, 86 per cent of employers believed that assessing the skills of their current workforce was more important to them than confirming their credentials. And 81 per cent of employers felt that skills assessment was more critical than proving work experience. 

“It is more important than ever that employers and employees are aligned, especially as working from home could lead to social isolation and further exacerbate feelings of insecurity among employees,” says Turk. 

“It is imperative that organisations are agile and able to adapt and pivot to develop a skills framework that will carry them through current events and meet their needs for the future. They need to identify the people and skills to carry their business forward and be able to measure success according to their industry priorities.

“For companies to adapt and survive, they must have the right skills as quickly as the workforce needs to adapt to change or technology accelerates. If not, this skills gap will cause further talent shortages and global uncertainty,” she continued. 

The survey found the biggest impediments to success for employees in terms of training included time, money, direction and availability of content, with the majority of employees (61%) citing a lack of time to complete training as the most significant barrier to success. That was followed by lack of money to invest in their own skills training (42%), not understanding what they should be learning or how to learn (39%), a lack of available content (38%) and a more than a quarter of employee respondents (26%) not having the confidence their leadership team supports their learning. 

All of these issues are further compounded with face-to-face training no longer a viable or economical option for employers. 

“While it may seem like an expense to invest in online training solutions, we know it is worth the investment. Gartner research found that on average, larger organisations spend $49m replacing employees who quit due to lack of career development opportunities1. In other words, it is more cost effective to train existing employees where there are skills gaps than to lose them and their valuable company knowledge and experience, to then undertake recruitment and induction training to replace them. 

“We know that employees feel valued when employers invest in training, and that satisfied employees are loyal and committed. At a time where we will need to work doubly hard to salvage the economy, training really is a worthwhile investment,” says Turk. 

Online or cloud-based training platforms and solutions address the issues of delivering face to face learning remotely, personally and whilst observing social distancing protocols. Online training should deliver ubiquity and hyper-personalisation. In other words, it needs to be all things to all people while providing personal and bespoke skills training. 

“Our research is showing us that it is critical to have teams and aligned and connected if we are to recover. Investment in up-skilling or re-skilling employees will bring about a faster return on investment and create stronger teams to deliver on business recovery strategies,” Turk concludes. 


Cornerstone OnDemand