2018 Best Practice & Outstanding Training Initiative Award Winners

Training editors and Top 10 Hall of Famers recognize innovative and successful learning and development programs and practices submitted in the 2018 Training Top 125 application.


Anthem L&D implemented its Flipped Classroom Strategy in January 2016. The objective of this strategy was to transition in-person learning to an online self-paced environment that strategically leverages facilitator engagement. The result was a guided and engaging learning experience that allows learners to consume at their own pace and learn from a coach and their community.

An example of this strategy is the Anthem Health Guide (AHG) Flipped Classroom training. AHG is a specialized consumer product that simplifies customers’ understanding and utilization of their benefits through high-touch, high-tech, concierge-style servicing.

AHG Flipped Classroom sessions are kicked off via a video chat orientation, where a facilitator provides the learners with an overview of the learning objectives, agenda, and learning technology. After orientation, learners have a flexible timeframe to complete all assigned tasks. The content associated with the assigned tasks uses various modalities, including:

  • Videos
  • Interactive support tools
  • Games
  • Group activities/role-plays
  • Available individualized coaching

Another component that has made AHG and other Flipped Classroom offerings successful is SmartShare Plus—an intranet-based social collaboration site that fosters interaction between participants and facilitators, and provides a platform for deploying class-specific curricula.

Results: Since launch, 405 associates have been trained on AHG through the flipped approach. This represents a 20 percent increase vs. what could have been achieved with instructor-led training.

Customer survey responses have been favorable, with the scores of AHG Flipped Classroom-trained associates exceeding established goals and outperforming non-flipped trained associates. Ninety-day post-training result averages include:

  • Service Skills: 94.2 percent
  • Sensitive to My Situation: 97.5 percent
  • Took Responsibility: 99 percent
  • Presented Solutions: 97.5 percent

Overall year-to-date 2017 Flipped Classroom Program results:

  • Class Completion Time Reduction: 19.1 percent
  • Courses: 97
  • Classes: 383
  • Associates Trained: 3,344
  • Associate Class Hours Saved: 21,928
  • Learning Effectiveness: 4.27/5
  • Ability to Apply to Job: 4.21/5
  • Instructor: 4.41/5
  • Courseware Component: 4.22/5
  • Social Collaboration Component: 4.20/5


Offering life insurance represents a significant opportunity to address unmet needs in Edward Jones clients' legacy planning. But branch teams had revealed they lack the confidence to discuss, offer, or service insurance products.

With home-office Insurance Partnership, Edward Jones removes these barriers by bringing together branch teams—one financial advisor and one branch office administrator— and their insurance consultants. Over two days, branches learn how to design and present insurance solutions, plus how to identify clients who need it. Distribution partner consultants deliver some of the training.

Introduced in 2007, Insurance Partnership has trained nearly 6,000 branch associates, more than 1,000 in 2016 alone.

In 2016, Edward lones shared its Life Insurance Vision, a strategy to systematically help its clients prepare for the unexpected with life insurance by 2020. The goal is for every financial advisor to address client protection needs, resulting in 12 insurance policies annually instead of today's average of fewer than three. The vision includes creating an easier process for submitting and tracking applications, and expanding training support for branch teams to acquire the confidence needed to present insurance solutions.

Insurance Partnership training plays a key role. The insurance partner pays 60 percent. Everyone profits, since distribution partners provide more policies and branches serve clients more deeply.

Results: A March 2017 analysis looked at 534 branches trained in 2015, comparing their insurance performance for 15 months before the class to 15 months post-class. It demonstrated that they moved closer to Edward lones' Life Insurance Vision goals.

  • They placed, on average, five insurance policies, one more than prior.
  • The top 50 branches increased permanent policies by eight.
  • The average increase in insurance-related gross revenue reflected a more than 600 percent return on investment.

Insurance Partnership is so effective that Edward lones created a version exclusively for its most successful Level 9 and 10 branch teams, Advanced Branch Team Performance (ABTP) Insurance Partnership. A 2016 analysis showed that the first 2015 course produced a 50 percent increase in insurance applications, a 55 percent increase in policies, and an 80 percent increase in households with insurance protection.

With Insurance Partnership in its arsenal, Edward lones has made firm-wide progress on its Life Insurance Vision:

  • In 2017, 86 percent of branches entered a business plan insurance goal, up from 38 percent in 2016.
  • Of branches completing business plans in 2017, 95 percent entered an insurance goal, and 78 percent increased goals from 2016 to 2017.
  • Firmwide insurance revenues rose 52 percent between 2008 and 2016.


My Health is a key part of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company's brand and a successful program that helps associates achieve better health and improve productivity in the workplace. The program helps them become better health-care consumers through identifying health risks and solutions.

The My Health journey begins with a self-assessment that examines behaviors, attitudes, and diagnostic numbers. Based on the completed assessment, recommendations for online learning programs are made for their individual health-risk profile.

Online learning is a key element of the modernized learning approach, providing self-paced coaching, which supports and reinforces lifestyle changes to help participants understand their risk profile and to take a proactive/ long-lasting approach to health and wellness. The objective is to identify behaviors that need to be changed and set personalized goals/strategies that focus on the recognition and correction of those behaviors.

In addition to online learning, other options include:

  • Face-to-face wellness coaching
  • Curated information on selected topics through Nationwide's interactive learning portal
  • Social networking with communities such as MyHealthFitness, Moms at Nationwide, or My Weight 
  • Participating in specialized assessments, such as MyBrain Solutions
  • Targeted learning such as the company's maternity support program, financial health assessment, and counseling

Associate feedback and current health promotion research helps to determine the desired focus of the learning. All offerings are internally designed by Nationwide health education professionals and customized for associates' needs. My Health professionals have designed and delivered innovative learning focused on Brain Health (2016) and Mindfulness (2017). Brain Health learning and activities focus on resilience, stress levels, executive function, and emotional bias. Mindfulness learning focuses on helping associates to be non-judgmental, and inviting awareness of the present moment through techniques such as mindful breathing, meditation, and positive affirmation. These programs are delivered through Nationwide's interactive learning portal.

Results: After a decade of associate participation:

  • Associates have moved from 45 percent at low risk (striving to maintain health) to 82 percent at this level in 2016; from 23 percent at moderate risk to 12 percent in 2016; and from 26 percent at high risk (striving to improve health) to 6 percent in 2016.
  • The average medical cost trend is 25.6 percent lower than the financial industry benchmark. Results from Brain Health learning include:
  • The highly stressed cohort improved their average brain health score by 9 points.
  • Associates who were identified to have low productivity significantly improved their overall productivity by 27 percent and decreased their relative absenteeism by 18 percent, gaining 7.23 hours per week of previously missing time.


Prior to 2017, the Smith & Nephew Sports Medicine division, with approximately 600 sales representatives, did not have a formal selling process. The combination of a complex orthopedic sales environment and a large, rapidly growing portfolio can cripple the productivity of a widely inexperienced sales force.

During an in-depth needs assessment, Smith & Nephew determined that a formalized sales process is pivotal for sustained growth by gaining and maintaining market share. The Sales Training team, along with senior sales leadership, identified Integrity Selling as its universal sales process to up skill the front-line sales professionals and establish a common sales language for the business.

The Integrity Selling certification process was executed in February 2017 for the 600 sales representatives. To gain support from sales leaders and promote a strong launch, the Sales Training team conducted pre-rollout events with managers, field support, and marketing. In these meetings, the team aligned participants on the most critical needs of the sales force through root cause discussion and identified the skills and behaviors of Smith & Nephew's most successful reps. The team also provided an overview of the Integrity Selling process and the training follow-up plan that would be critical for success.

The training was delivered through didactic classroom sessions and interactive practice. After the learners received education on the selling process, they were required to complete a role-play with a Training team member who used an electronic survey on an iPad to score the learner's performance. Using the electronic survey allowed for quick viewing of results. Following the role-plays, the learners were required to complete an electronic test.

After successful completion of both parts, the sales representative was considered certified in the new process. For those who did not successfully complete both parts, remediation was provided in the form of additional education in the field. For everyone who completed the training, sales managers conducted six follow-up calls, one per week, with their sales teams to reinforce key Integrity Selling concepts. These calls were tracked by the Sales Training team.

Results: To measure the impact on sales revenue, an analysis was completed using the sales data from six months prior to the training and six months after the training. The results showed that implementation of these skills increased revenue by 23 percent versus the 9 percent average growth for the market.


Many orientation programs focus on getting tasks done and pushing out a lot of information that will not be retained. In contrast, WellSpan Health's New Employee Orientation program focuses on the "experience" of the new employee, emphasizing a program mission to welcome new hires and engage and inspire them while meeting important regulatory process needs.

A senior leader welcomes employees and begins the program with a conversation around WellSpan's mission, values, and vision. Learning and Development facilitators focus on various elements of the learning experience. Subject matter experts facilitate throughout the day, each having an interactive element to their presentation for a consistent learning experience. Employees receive a "Passport" booklet to guide them on their journey as a new employee with a critical mission and contact information. An electronic “New Employee Magazine” is utilized throughout the program during presentations and is available for on-the-job use on the intranet.

Over the last year, WellSpan added some enhancements and innovation to the program. To improve the flow and reduce waste, all computer functions were condensed within a single timeframe. This adjustment saved 5 minutes per learner in program time during the first half of 2017.

Organizational growth required expanding attendee capacity by 56 percent while maintaining core program objectives. After exploring many options and weighing engagement and costs, WellSpan opted to use an interactive, live video-stream option and live moderator in the video-streamed room. This avoided the need to hold a second orientation day each week while still maintaining the personal touch.

Results: Over the last 18 months since program inception, training hours have decreased by 33 percent, while capacity has increased by 56 percent to accommodate a growing organization. Participant feedback has been consistent (4.6 out of 5). The 2017 employee engagement survey results indicate 97.7 percent of employees feel they understand how their daily work contributes to the organization’s mission. The organization’s Wildly Important Goal to increase the percentage of staff who report being engaged was exceeded by 3 percent, with 42.2 percent indicating they are engaged.



In today’s environment of complex, continually advancing technology products and services, consumers need a trusted advisor to make sense of it all—to help them decide what to purchase, manage setup and installation, and advise on future technology needs. In response, Best Buy introduced a new role called the In-Home Advisor (IHA) to sell and advise on anything and everything in the Best Buy assortment from the comfort of the customer’s home.

Best Buy took an innovative rapid development approach to creating IHA training. First, it gathered early intelligence on best practices from pilot market IHAs, leaders, and supporting roles for its needs analysis and got their input on content development. Then, working with Training managers for areas such as appliances, the team repurposed activity forms and training plan templates. A unique vendor relationship yielded 25 customized videos and job aids on the IHA customer management system.

Best Buy completed the training plans in only eight weeks. This included creating individualized plans for four roles and developing all materials (three learning guidebooks averaging 75 pages, 40-plus hours of classroom or virtual training, 21 job aids, 11 e-learnings, and six videos).

Depending on role, more than 300 employees completed the training over two to five weeks. This included job shadows with in-store product experts; ride-alongs with Geek Squad Installers; written essays; and more than 16,000 e-learning completions. Some 280 IHAs capped off training with a certification exercise—a simulation in a space made to look like a customer’s home through projections of room images onto the walls. With an IHA leader role-playing a customer, IHAs had to demonstrate expected IHA behaviors taught in the curriculum. The IHA leader entered their scores into the Best Buy Coaching Portal; successful scores triggered the learning management system (LMS) to issue IHA certification. IHA leaders prepared for their role via blended learning, including spending one to two days with a peer in a successful pilot market.

Since IHA success relies on store employees successfully recommending the IHA program and submitting appointment requests, Best Buy also developed bite-sized learning for retail associates and call center agents.


  • The average IHA transaction is three times higher than in-store transactions.
  • Attachment of Geek Squad services (75 percent) is twice the company average.
  • IHAs' percentage of revenue from services is 600 basis points (bps) higher than retail stores.
  • Stores with IHAs report better performance compared to stores without: 200 bps higher revenue performance and 800 bps lower return and exchange rate.


Seeking to become the “Most Loved Automobile Brand,” Hagerty launched its Automotive Enthusiast Certification (AEC) program in 2017. This program supports employees in their pursuit of automotive knowledge and experiences. The program provides training and experiences that uniquely position employees as authentic in the eyes of Hagerty clients while discovering their individual automotive passions and career interests. The certification criteria includes:

  • Automotive History
  • Automotive Industry Trends and Values
  • Engine Mechanics, Performance, and Uniqueness
  • Automobile Makes and Models

The certification levels of mastery include:

  • Nuts and Bolts
  • 1st Gear
  • 2nd Gear
  • 3rd Gear

The Nuts and Bolts certification was rolled out in April 2017. The certification involves approximately 12 hours of required trainings and unlimited hours of recommended hands-on experiences. Courses, experiences, and proctored exams are offered on a quarterly basis.

Experiences include Employee Car Club events where employees have the chance to see and drive employee-owned classic vehicles of various makes and models. The club meets weekly and often helps restore employee vehicles, as well.

Hagerty also hosts an event for employees and local residents called “Cars and Caffeine” every Friday morning during the summer months on its Traverse City campus. Employees and the public are encouraged to bring their vehicles; enjoy a cup of coffee; and share the history, significance, and restoration information about their vehicles. As many as 50 vehicles have attended this Friday morning event.

Hagerty’s CEO held a recognition ceremony last summer for all employees who have passed the exam and personally awarded them a certification pin. He acknowledged the importance of their car knowledge differentiating Hagerty in the marketplace and supporting the company’s car culture. He also applauded their initiative to learn and grow.


  • Participation: Q2 goal of 50 employees passing Nuts and Bolts exam was exceeded, with 65 employees from 12 different departments passing
  • Exam passing rate on first attempt: 90 percent
  • Employee retention: 93 percent in 2016; 94.8 percent in 2017
  • New business count: Q3 goal of 125,400 exceeded with 128,400
  • Policy retention: Q3 goal achieved at 89.7 percent


Iron Mountain employs more than 3,000 drivers in North America to transport its customers’ important information and assets. These employees have the highest in-person touch-points with Iron Mountain’s customers, often developing a strong knowledge of their information management needs through their route interactions. The company sought to figure out a way to leverage these relationships and knowledge to generate business growth and revenue, increase driver earning power, and solve customer needs on the spot.

In partnership with business owners, field leadership, senior executives, and high-performing drivers, the Learning team developed a basic training framework to introduce and launch the Driver Growth and Revenue Program (DGRP). Utilizing bite-sized learning during morning huddles, supervisors began training their teams in September 2016 to sell supplies and secure shredding services to new and existing customers in the small to medium-sized business landscape, as well as generate sales leads for opportunities outside the program’s scope.

With initial success through 2016, the business owners tripled the participation and revenue targets for 2017 and commissioned the Learning team to develop a full-scale training. The team designed an eight-hour interactive classroom experience for supervisors and managers to develop their sales coaching and management skills, so they can direct their teams throughout a sales process, from initial identification to contractual close. With only a two-month training window and 400 people to train, the team leveraged trained field leaders to deliver 50 sessions across North America.

One key training component was an action plan to ensure each team finished strong by the end of 2017. Participants developed stretch goals and used new skills and resources from the training to increase their team’s participation rate and revenue generation toward program targets.

Results: By the end of 2016, the DGRP saw positive results:

  • $1 million in business revenue
  • 36 sales leads
  • 12.34 percent driver participation rate

Through September 16, 2017, the company saw a:

  • 68 percent increase in driver participation
  • 49 percent increase in revenue generation
  • 50 percent increase in paid commissions
  • 1,367 percent increase in leads generated and 1,389 percent increase in leads converted


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) manages more than 48,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in northern California. These pipelines move gas across the state and provide a safe, clean source of energy to approximately 4.3 million customers. Valves are critical components to ensure the safe flow of gas across the system. Many valves are controlled by “valve operators”—a piece of equipment that can automatically open, close, or monitor valve position to maintain a certain pipeline pressure or gas flow rate. These are critical pipeline components, and performing scheduled maintenance helps ensure the valves operate correctly and prevent over-pressure or under-pressure events, which could cause ruptures in the pipelines.

In 2016, PG&E identified a need to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the training for a specific type of valve operator: Becker operators. The existing training was primarily instructor-led utilizing props in the classroom. The amount of time for this initial training was somewhat limited and did not allow for enough hands-on practice. It also was discovered that once students returned to the field, they did not have daily exposure to the Becker operators, and, therefore, their knowledge and skills diminished after training.

In response, PG&E developed a 3-D simulation that simulates live operation on the valve, including assembly, disassembly, and cleaning. It allows the technician to see what actually occurs within the valve when external adjustments are made to the Becker operator. Additionally, the simulation allows employees to dismantle and service the valve from start to finish.

Learners can perform the work in “Tutorial Mode,” where they are guided through the process, and then in “Test Mode,” where they need to show they can perform the tasks correctly. The simulation has been incorporated into the initial instructor-led training and deployed on students’ iPads for easy retrieval in the field at the time of need. This has transformed the course from a four-hour lecture into a one-hour interactive learning experience that allows the employee to complete two services from start to finish.

Results: There are 300 Becker valve operators throughout the system, and technicians will maintain each Becker operator at least once per quarter. With a previous average job time of two hours, the simulation has proven to reduce the job time and decrease costs by 62 percent when completing maintenance on a Becker valve operator. In addition, employees are able to complete the job safely the first time, translating to the amount of rework decreasing by 37 percent.


Last season, Wequassett Resort and Golf Club introduced “Star Coach” to a small group of employees. Star Coach is a learning app that analyzes employee voices to help them make a better connection with guests. The app shows a video of a hotel guest with a complaint, compliment, or casual question. The employee is required to respond to the guest in the video. The app records the statement and analyzes the employee’s tone, speed, and emotions within his or her words.

This highly specialized analysis then provides a calculation of how genuine the employee’s response was. It provides a score showing confidence level, effort to connect, and emotional involvement. It also delivers instant feedback and tips to improve skills. This app was designed to be used in private, allowing employees to practice on their own without co-workers or managers watching them. Each employee was given a checklist of scenarios that needed to be completed by a certain date.

As the app gave feedback with each practice round, employee scores started to improve. As the scores started to improve, employee confidence levels rose. Although a bit frustrating in the beginning, the app became fun and rewarding as employees began achieving different levels within it. This started an internal competition that was organically built between the employees sharing their scores and achievements.

Results: In Wequassett’s Employee Survey, the front-office employees selected to utilize the app increased the score for “The job-specific training provided to me was thorough, allowing me to perform my job effectively” from 88 percent satisfaction to 94 percent excellence.

The hard work put in by front-office employees started to be reflected in the scores they received on Forbes inspections. For the standard “Employee shows a genuine sense of interest and concern for the guest,” the front-office team scored 96 percent, attaining the point for 29 out of 30 opportunities. This was an increase from the previous year’s score of 88 percent (31 points achieved for 35 opportunities).

Arrival and departure audits for the front office also improved. Arrival scored 93.33 percent in both April and May and 96.55 percent in June—all five-star scores. Departure scored 91.67 percent in April and improved to five-star scores with 100 percent in May and 95.83 percent in June. These high scores contributed to Wequassett Resort and Golf Club receiving a Forbes five-star ranking for the second year in a row.


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