Training Top 100 Outstanding Training Initiatives (March 2021)

Details of the top-scoring Outstanding Training Initiatives submitted by Training Top 100 Hall of Famers Verizon, EY, and Keller Williams Realty.

Each year, Training magazine requires all Training Top 100 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is judged by each other and shared with our readers. Aside from ensuring Hall of Famers aren’t “resting on their laurels,” this provides an opportunity for the Learning & Development community to learn from the “best of the best” and see some innovative solutions for challenges many face today.

Each Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiative submission could achieve a maximum total of 20 points. Submissions were scored on the following criteria:

  • Level of potential business impact
  • Level of difficulty of challenges faced
  • Project scope
  • Instructional design
  • Innovation
  • Business outcomes achieved/expectations met

The three initiatives that achieved the highest scores are detailed below (Verizon, EY, and Keller Williams Realty). The other 10 submissions will be profiled in 2021 print or online-only issues.


Verizon did not lay off any of its 135,000 employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic that began in March 2020. Instead, it committed to reskill or upskill nearly 20,000 employees to assume roles across the company and support other busines-scritical needs.

Included in the training were 8,000-plus retail team members who were deployed following a reduction in Verizon’s retail footprint in which the company temporarily closed nearly 1,000 of 1,600 Verizonowned retail locations due to government-ordered safety mandates.

Program Details

Faced with unprecedented call and chat volume, Verizon business leaders temporarily redeployed retail employees to customer service and telesales roles. Talent Acquisition created a redeployment staffing process that offered available retail employees a chance to specify their preference for redeployment. Operations teams shipped employees equipment to enable work-from-home, and Learning & Development (L&D) reskilled the reps for their new roles. In a matter of weeks, Verizon prepared nearly 60 percent of the redeployed retail team members for their temporary assignments.

Reskilling content was repurposed from existing customer service and telesales onboarding programs for the targeted roles and redesigned for virtual instructor-led deployment. The training was delivered via a blend of virtual instructor-led training (VILT), self-guided digital learning, digital performance support, post-training trainer support, and daily leader reinforcements.

Customer Service Roles

Wave 1:

  • Eight hours of training to get employees on the phone.
  • A daily leader reinforcement plan supported reps once they were on the phone.
  • L&D pulled Level 1 training survey verbatims daily and iterated content in real time for the next rep group.

Wave 2

  • 1.5 days of training, plus 3.5 days of live call-taking with support such as call observations, billing scenarios and hands-on application/skill practice.

Telesales Roles

Wave 1:

  • Two days of VILT followed by eight hours of self-paced training, and capped with two virtual training sessions—one to review the processes and services in Telesales and the other to demonstrate the job workflow.

Wave 2:

  • Updated training to address knowledge gaps on specific processes, systems, and customer situations.

L&D also worked to develop and deliver leadership transition training for retail store leaders temporarily redeployed to telesales leadership roles.

Verizon kept retail employees who were unable to be redeployed to other roles engaged through a multi-modal employee development program called #InItTogether and virtual volunteering opportunities.


Between April and September 2020, the following results were achieved:

  • Retail Reps to Customer Service Roles: Handled 4 million customer service calls, accounting for 15.6 percent of call volume. This improved overall average handle time by 45 seconds and lowered average speed of answer by 18 seconds across customer service.
  • Retail Reps to Telesales Roles: Handled 874,000 sales calls, accounting for 46 percent of all telesales calls. Redeployed retail reps had a $5 higher average accessory sales per device than traditional telesales reps. The average call handle time decreased from 532 seconds in month 1 to 430 seconds in month 3.

In May 2020, Verizon ranked #1 in Forbes’ “Nation’s Top Employers’ Responses to Pandemic” rankings. Retail redeployment was cited as a contributing factor.


Afew years ago, EY publicly declared its purpose of Building a Better Working World. As a purpose-driven company, EY understands that a company’s impact is the sum of how its people operate and, as such, asked itself: Can we authentically achieve our purpose-led ambition, and do all of our people know how to operate and lead themselves through the filter of their personal purpose?

After several years of development and piloting, in January 2020, EY formally launched Pathway to Purpose—a multi-module, interactive, live virtual program designed to help EY professionals discover and connect their Personal Purpose and Personal Vision to:

  1. EY’s global purpose (Building a Better Working World)
  2. Their daily professional activities
  3. Their personal lives

To date, 17,000-plus courses have been delivered, with the goal to double that number in the coming year.

Program Details

Pathway to Purpose is a four-module, sequential, live virtual experience grounded in the art and science of storytelling and active listening:

Part 1: Discover Your Personal Purpose

Part 2: Define the Unique Actions that Enable Your Purpose

Part 3: Craft Your Personal Vision

Part 4: Bring Your Personal Purpose, Actions, and Vision to Life

For each module, a facilitator introduces the relevant topic and desired outcomes. Then, through large group discussion, they demonstrate the storytelling and active listening techniques that are used during that module. Finally, participants are divided into small group breakouts during which they actively apply these techniques.

Each module is designed to be ideally taken two to three weeks apart, enabling participants to digest and apply their learnings across their personal and professional lives. Beyond the classroom, EY designed an ecosystem of reinforcement including:

  • Ambassador program: Volunteers who help promote the program within their practices, geographies, teams, and among their peers. They also serve as a valuable sounding board as EY develops new activities and points of engagement.
  • Purpose Cafés: Monthly open-door virtual gatherings of people who want to learn more about putting their Personal Purpose and Personal Vision to use. Each month focuses on a new topic, connecting participants to thought leaders and experts.
  • Purpose labs: Scheduled drop-in sessions where participants receive group coaching on refining their Personal Purpose and Personal Vision statements.
  • One-on-One Purpose Coaching: Participants sign up for weekly coaching with master facilitators outside the “formal” classroom to help them refine and bring their Personal Purpose and Vision to life.
  • Purpose Portal: A centralized portal for information, registration links, and collateral on how to activate Personal Purpose and Personal Vision.


  • Pathway to Purpose scores an average rating of 4.33 out of 5 (5 being the highest score) in a post-course evaluation that asks questions related to relevance, effectiveness, and engagement.
  • Since the launch of Pathway to Purpose, EY retention is up 3.3 percent compared to the previous year.


In light of the disruption posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown, Keller Williams Realty (KW) moved its BOLD (Business Objective: Life by Design) transformational training and coaching program out of the classroom and into a virtual setting with the development of a new program—BOLD Pivot.

Program Details

Course content aligned with the “Four Pivots” that founder Gary Keller outlined to help agents understand the specific shifts they needed to make in order to succeed in this period of transition:

  1. Adopt a mindset of action, abundance, accountability, and achievement
  2. Enhance their businesses’ profitability by finding new ways to cut expenses.
  3. Develop the habit of daily lead generation.
  4. Build long-lasting customer relationships by delivering exemplary service and showing they care.

Core components of the new program included:

  • Two two-hour, video-based sessions per week, delivered live on Zoom by BOLD coaches (and live-streamed on Facebook). These focused agents on what they could control in this unprecedented time and presented the skills they would need to address those areas.
  • The BOLD Pivot Coaching Corner, which ran the two alternating days of each week. These sessions gave participants a chat-based forum to engage in and work through current issues they were experiencing in their businesses.

In adapting the BOLD training to virtual delivery, KW:

  • Reduced program length from seven weeks to four, thereby launching agents into full production faster.
  • Cut virtual instruction time to two hours a day, four days a week over four weeks, for a total of 32 training hours—24 fewer hours than the in-person version.
  • Released on-demand versions of all live sessions within 48 hours.
  • Provided access to the BOLD Pivot Facebook Group, which was actively monitored by BOLD coaches. This served as a space for agents to stay connected, share referral business, and mastermind on the challenges they were facing in real time. Some 72 new training assets, including on-demand videos, were made available to participants.


BOLD Pivot was the first KW training program delivered at the scale of 40,000 participants. Among program participants, KW has seen the following results:

  • A 14 percent increase in average listings taken as compared to agents who did not participate in the program.
  • A 9 percent increase in average contracts written versus the same control group.
Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.