Brad Zomick

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10 min read

53 Jaw-dropping Statistics from CEB’s Reimagine HR Conference


A few weeks ago we spent three days at CEB’s Reimagine HR conference with 2,000 Fortune 500 human resource leaders. We spent some of that time informing attendees about about Pathgather.

But most of that time was spent learning about what talent and learning professionals are experiencing in the field and what’s next for the HR fuction, especially those in Learning and Development (L&D). CEB does amazing research and had a ton of data to share with us. Here are 53 of those data points.

Change is the new normal

Every department in your organization is experiencing change, and the future is somewhat unclear. The needs are varied thus L&D will need to scale and personalize its offerings.

  1. 73% of executives expect the frequency of change to increase
  2. 59% of if leaders believe changes have less clear objectives
  3. 80% of leaders believe change requires new skills
  4. 78% of changes require cross-functional collaboration
  5. 76% of leaders cited higher volumes of information.
  6. 1/4 of new employees leave within one year
  7. Only ⅓ of organizations are adapting quickly enough to meet their goals

Learning is becoming a strategic imperative for CEOs

Learning is traditionally viewed as a cost center. However, digital transformation is creating an opportunity for L&D to elevate its role in enterprise. The cornerstone to neutralizing and capitalizing on disruption is talent agility – the ability to reshape an organization’s skill pool in real-time. Learning and talent management are the only departments that can unlock talent agility at scale.  They need to start building a pipeline for high-demand skills yesterday.

  1. 77% of CEOS are concerned that skills availability is a business threat
  2. 75% of CEOs believe L&D analytics is important, but only 25% of them are receiving sufficient information
  3. 10% of the companies on the CHRO Leadership Board are Pathgather customers slide

We are starting to align learning to business outcomes

Not only does the C-suite need L&D to retrain the business, but it wants proof that it is working. At the current time, most organizations struggling to prove results. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done!

  1. 12% of CFOs are confident in that spending in L&D is effective
  2. 23% of business leaders think L&D is timely in addressing business challenges with learning solutions
  3. 31% of business leaders think L&D provides learning solutions that are relevant to their needs
  4. 34% of business leaders think L&D impacts business outcomes

But most are not capturing the bulk of learning activity

One the big challenges of measuring learning is that it is now happening everywhere. Traditionally, L&D was focused on learning in the LMS and classrooms, but now learning happens in many different places like online courses, web articles, Youtube, podcasts, and much it via mobile phones and tablets.

  1. 67% of L&D function have increased the number of learning channels in last three years
  2. 79% of L&D functions have redesigned learning content to make it more enjoyable over the last three years 59% of L&D functions focus on the immediate relevance of products.
  3. 65% of employees access more channels for information and learning than just two years ago
  4. 68% of employees are actively learning new ways of doing things from their co-workers compared to 51% two years ago
  5. 59% of employees access more social learning tools for information and learning than two years ago
  6. 57% of employees get advice and coaching from their manager, compared to 48% four years ago.
  7. 57% of employees participate in more formal learning than two years ago.

Building the HIPO pipeline is a challenging

High potential employees (HIPOs) are the fuel of organizational success. HIPOs are hard to identify and even harder to retain. Many companies are struggling to build their HIPO bench. Dow Chemical’s answer, “Enabling Informed Decisions to Identify the Right Development for the Right Person at the Right Time.”


  1. 46% of companies don’t have a systematic process for identifying HIPOs
  2. 95% of organizations fail to follow through on HIPO development plans
  3. 67% of companies are betting on agile individuals, employees who can to quickly and easily adapt to changing needs and new circumstances, but it’s not working.
  4. This strategy only fills 29% of internal roles. Companies need to focus on an agile HIPO strategy.
  5. HIPOs derive more satisfaction from improving skills (25%) than promotions (17%)

Managers need to be better at development!

L&D can’t do it all. To get the most out of employees, managers need to be active developers of their teams. However, most managers are failing their employees, because they are not focusing on the right activities. If there is one thing L&D can do, is develop better training for emerging management talent to give line employees more support.

    1. 35% of manager time is spent in meetings
    2. Managers send and receive 122 emails per day
    3. Managers have an average of 9 direct reports
    4. 45% of managers lack the confidence to develop skills employees need today
    5. 35% of employees are satisfied with their managers
    6. 5% of the workforce leaves organizations per year bc of a bad manager
    7. 32% of employees believe coaching and development interactions they have with managers are tailored to their needs
    8. Most managers only develop employees in 1:1s and only 25% of managers leverage other direct reports to provide development support to their employees.
    9. 40% of employees agree their manager helps them develop the skills they need for their role today
    10. There are four types of managers: Always On, Teacher, Cheerleader, and Connectors. Connector managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers
    11. 36% of agree their manager helps them develop the skills they need for their future career

The best leadership training is ineffective without a better identification process

There is a disconnect between investment in new leaders and business outcomes. Leadership training is the #1 area of L&D investment, but confidence in leaders is at an all-time low.

      1. 73% of business units have leaders that are not equipped to handle future needs of their organization
      2. Confidence in rising leaders has gone from bad to worse. Dropped from 17% to 13% in last three years.
      3. More than 40% of leadership roles are expected to change significantly in 5 years, and ⅓ of leaders can’t predict how those roles will change
      4. Succession plans only fill 28% of leader roles
      5. 46% of leaders moving into new roles fail objectives

It’s not so much, the training that is the problem, it’s the process in which leadership potential is identified and measured.

We are in the early days of talent analytics

Many of the problems described above stem from lack of data to drive decisions. While many companies are talking a big talent data game, few are doing it well or with confidence.

      1. 17% of business leaders agree HR analytics is focusing on the right problems
      2. 14% of senior HR leaders agree that their talent analytics are aligned with the right issues
      3. 80% of senior HR leaders agree that HR staff capabilities are a barrier to improving analytics
      4. Only 18% of business leaders trust data and insights from HR
      5. Only 20% of talent teams are using machine learning
      6. 47% of those using machine learning report high impact
      7. 42% of organizations plan a significant investment in machine learning to speed up and improve HR decision making

Culture is hot topic; companies have baked it into their training

To get high-performance out of your organization, you also need a great culture. Happy employees, drive positive results. Culture training can be a foundational investment in culture.

  1. 67% of companies are discussing talent issues on earnings calls, up 5% in 2017
  2. Organizations are investing heavily in culture. CEOs are increasingly focused on culture management, and 79% of CEOs rely on the CHRO function to execute on culture
  3. 84% of companies are instilling culture with by training leaders to model culture
  4. 82% of companies are baking culture training into new hire onboarding

Strike while the iron is hot

While some of these data points are scary, overall they tell a great story for L&D. Change is never comfortable, but those who embrace it will reap the rewards. One can liken the current transformation in human resources, learning, and talent functions to the Industrial Revolution. Industrial era opportunists who saw change coming were able to take advantage of it and make their careers on it. Similarly, industrial revolution luddites who took a wait-and-see approach were disrupted and experienced career setbacks.

What’s your plan? Will you wait and see or are you ready to Reimagine HR?

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