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What do high-performing organisations do differently?

What do high-performing organisations do differently?

The differences between 'Laggard' organisations and 'High Performing' organisations persist across key people strategies.

Cornerstone's 2022 Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage report identified the differences between organisations classified as 'High Performers', 'Average', and 'Laggards' on the basis of how they were rated across 16 key talent and business categories including employee development, diversity and inclusion, customer satisfaction, revenue and profitability.

In doing so, it was found that High Performers are significantly more likely to:

  • Report a low employee-to-employer skills confidence gap on skills development ability,
  • Receive high marks from employers and employees alike on their COVID-19 response, and
  • Invest heavily in their people and their skills as a strategy to grow, innovate, and perform in an era of uncertainty.

In uncovering the traits of high performing organisations, the report covered responses from 240 employers as well as 600 employees in the APAC region, in addition to others from North America (NAMER) and Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA).

Respondents whose scores placed them in High Performing Organisations showed overwhelmingly different responses to their Average and Laggard counterparts. High Performing Organisations were perceived as doing exceptionally well in a key people areas compared to the Laggards.

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Surprisingly, this year’s survey found that employee and employer outlook have actually become more pessimistic. In some cases, the gap between employee and employer answers even widened slightly. Across employees and employers, respondents in 2022 agreed less with the effectiveness of their organisation’s response to the pandemic and reported a lessened sense of company support. Concerningly, the difference in agreement between 2020 and 2022 respondents was significantly higher for employees than employers, suggesting that policies enacted by business leaders may have in many cases fallen short of actual employee needs.

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It's not all bad, however, as some factors still show a positive narrative. When asked about how disruptive COVID-19 was to work experience, employees and employers believed it was significantly less disruptive than either cohort believed it would be in 2020. When further asked about how confident they were in their organisation’s ability to face future challenges and disruptions, the vast majority of all respondents seemed optimistic.

Using High Performing Organisations as an example for COVID-19 response, a notable number of employees reported feeling a level of support from their company that far outpaced the total employee respondent average. Laggards, on the other hand, fell significantly behind everyone else on all response categories, but most notably in personal support as perceived by employees. 

The charts below show the performance of each type of organisation in several areas:

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The employee–employer skills confidence gap

The 2020 survey uncovered a 30pp employee-employer confidence gap between employers who believed that they were delivering skills to employees and employees’ confidence in their employer’s ability to develop their skills.

Two years on, that gap has not closed in the latest research. While employer confidence in their ability to understand and deliver on their needs rose in 2022, employee confidence actually decreased by five points with just 55% of them saying that their organisation’s skills development was a priority.

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However, the skills confidence gap isn’t universal — High Performing Organisations actually noted a smaller gap. While Laggard Organisations struggled with cohesion between employees and employers, High Performing Organisations show a much smaller gap in perceptions of the importance of skills development. 

High Performing Organisations not only prioritised skill development at a much higher level, but their employees also agreed with them that the investment is working — with just an 11pp gap between employers and employees in their perceived effectiveness. Meanwhile, Laggard employers not only rate their prioritisation of skill development much lower, but less than 20% of employees also agree that skills development is an important objective to their organisation — a large 42-percentage-point gap.

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Rounding up the report findings

The survey gauged the level of strength in a variety of areas by asking for agreement levels on the extent of success (employee) and investment focus (employer).

Comparing the average agreement scores, the differences between Laggard Organisations and High Performing Organisations persist across key people strategies (pictured below). The “confidence gap difference” in the data indicates where progress is being made, and where more focus is needed.

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As a whole, the report observed the following key findings around skills development:

  • Organisations and their people continue to see skills development as an increasingly important part of navigating their shared future.
  • The employer–employee confidence gap on skills development  — measuring the difference between employee and employer perception of the effectiveness of these programmes — not only persisted from 2020 but, on average, grew wider.
  • High Performing Organisations have a much smaller skills confidence gap compared to the average organisation. They also demonstrated significantly different results across every learning and talent outcome surveyed.
  • When organisations create learning programmes that employees value, it substantially increases the employee demand for development resources — a virtuous cycle.
  • Despite the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, most organisations are perceived as having been effective in their COVID-19 response.

All images / Cornerstone Thriving in the Global Skills Shortage

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