Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (July/August 2019)

Each year Training magazine requires all Training Top 10 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is shared with our readers in a print issue. Here are the details of CHG Healthcare’s People Development initiative; one of EY’s Audit Academy programs – Journey to Quality; and Active Engagement within IBM.

CHG Healthcare: People Development

CHG Healthcare has become an industry leader by focusing on employee engagement to drive business results. However, engagement scores dipped from 91 percent in 2016 to 88 percent in 2018. Specifically, questions focusing on support from leaders for development had historically been the lowest scored questions. To achieve CHG’s company strategic initiatives of 95 percent engagement and 90 percent retention, senior leadership gathered together in 2017 to find a way to more fully engage employees and leaders in the development process.

The breakthrough consensus in this 2017 meeting was that leaders were focused on their employees’ performance, while employees were striving to focus more on development. It was decided that a combination of both performance and development mindsets was needed. Employees need to feel empowered to drive their own career development, while leaders need to feel a responsibility to provide proper guidance that will help both the employee and the company grow and perform well.

Senior leadership and Leadership & Development (L&D) teams ultimately agreed upon a philosophy that would guide the way CHG would approach development from both mindsets. This philosophy was named People Driven, Leader Guided and consists of a framework and a foundation for how CHG approaches People Development.

Program Details

The People Development initiative uses the People Driven, Leader Guided philosophy to improve CHG Healthcare’s ability to develop individuals, teams, and the company itself to maximize engagement. To accomplish this, the company uses blended learning techniques, new career development techniques, and simplified feedback and development tools to help CHG employees understand where they are in their careers, where they want to go, and what steps they need to take in order to get there.

After the initial design brainstorming at the senior leader level, CHG’s senior vice president of Talent Management began conducting research into areas of improvement for teams that struggle with development. Then the SVP partnered with CHG’s L&D team to create the People Development training that focuses on feedback, development, and coaching, as well as the corresponding components of:

  • “Where are you?”
  • “Where are you going?”
  • “How will you get there?”

People Development is essentially a three-step process that is people driven and leader guided:

1. Employees are encouraged to discuss their development with their leaders to help identify where they currently are in their career. Questions such as what have they contributed over the last year, what are their strengths, and what are areas of opportunities and other performance feedback provided by the leader will guide the conversation of “Where are you?”

2. Employees then will envision where they would like to be in their career in the next 12 months and identify skills or behaviors they would like to develop to help them get there. The leader emphasizes that development does not necessarily mean promotion.

3. In collaboration with their leader, employees will set goals to help them arrive at their desired destination. These goals will include learning through formal education, through others, and experience. Goals will be tracked and updated through CHG’s new Web-based Development Plan tool.

The People Development Initiative first was presented to all 558 leaders at CHG’s annual leadership summit. Trainings then were rolled out companywide to 2,660 employees through various forms of divisional summits and team meetings. People Development was delivered in multiple media to make sure the content was presented to appeal to different learning styles and needs without disrupting employees’ workflow. Introductory videos, in-person courses, development plans, resources, and job aids all were developed. Ongoing modules for new hire onboarding and leadership development programs currently are being implemented for sustainability.


Since the People Development initiative was implemented, CHG has seen an increase in revenue and it is projected to grow at 8 percent; EBITDA is 8.3 percent for the company. Changes in engagement scores will be analyzed throughout 2019 following the company’s annual engagement survey.

EY’s Audit Academy – Journey to Quality

EY’s transformation into a future-focused and globally integrated professional services organization is creating a differentiated client and employee experience. To ensure the right talent, EY Audit generally recruits high-performing graduates direct from college and continually trains them as auditors over several years. Auditors’ development in the early years is critically important to support the provision of high-quality audits and delivering engagements efficiently. From this early stage, EY also is working to create transformational leaders—those with the skills to navigate disruption and, ultimately, become future leaders.

EY’s Audit Academy, of which Journey to Quality is part, has the goal of transforming audit learning in three key ways:

  • Providing a global, world-class learning curriculum
  • Improving learning effectiveness
  • Enhancing the learner experience

EY’s intermediate staff have approximately one year of experience working at the firm and are heavily engaged to complete a variety of technical tasks in audit engagements. They are building an emerging technical skill set based on the application of auditing and accounting standards across a range of clients and challenging situations. They have exposure to more straightforward audit procedures and are beginning to take on more challenging and complex situations. The Journey to Quality program prepares participants to succeed in their second busy season at EY, where they will have a more active role providing a high-quality and efficient audit, using the latest tools and becoming an integral part of EY’s high-performing teams.

Program Details

Aimed at training 16,000 learners around the globe annually, the Journey to Quality experience includes both technical training designed to prepare intermediate staff to apply audit and accounting standards, as well as the critical thinking and professional judgement required for them to be successful as auditors. The learning is gamified, with participants journeying on an island to solve a problem and obtain the necessary supplies to safely leave the island and return home, which acts as a metaphor for successfully contributing to a quality audit in their role as intermediate staff. The experience includes video, online simulated experiences, a physical game board, team interactions, and role-plays.

To create this experience, the EY Learning team conducted a detailed design process with representatives of all key stakeholder groups—including those responsible for key content areas such as: audit methodology; accounting; risk and claims; and audit transformation (data analytics, audit tools). Representatives included business leadership, learning deployment functions, facilitators, managers and senior managers (those who directly supervise the target audience), and target audience members from each of EY’s four geographic areas (Americas; Europe; the Middle East, India and Africa; Asia-Pacific and Japan). The design process also leveraged external learning consultants and focused on learning and development needs that ultimately were translated into a broad curriculum for intermediate staff, designed to be consumed over a nine- to 12-month period.

The level of engagement designed for the course required orientation in the form of facilitated discussions and participant coaching over three days. To ease deployment of the high volume of materials, an Integrated Learning Program (ILP) technology solution was created to provide a consistent experience, ease the distribution of these documents, and reduce the amount of printing. The materials are designed to be recycled rather than retained after the event.

The course is designed to be facilitated by managers from the practice. This allows first-hand experience of the issues and complexities within the course to be shared with intermediate staff to reinforce the relevance of the learning materials.

The Journey to Quality goes beyond conventional blended learning to deliver a program utilizing virtual, team, and in-person modalities:

  • Nontechnical elements tie the technical experience together.
  • The design, development, and application of the ILP includes games, journaling, repetition, and documentation.
  • An inspiring, team-based learning experience allows teams to readjust and react throughout the experience.
  • Stimulating debriefs at the end of each mission reflect on technical content, methodology, application, and leading practices, so learners can contextualize learning points within the bigger picture of an audit.


While metrics weren’t the primary target when implementing this learning, results have included learners rating of the following:

  • Relevance: 97 percent agreement
  • Value: 96 percent agreement
  • Confidence: 93 percent agreement

In addition, 86 percent reported applying what they learned on the job within three months, and 77 percent of those who applied were able to report an example measurable business impact

These measurement results show the program is delivering strongly on satisfaction, application, and business impact, both in absolute terms and when measured against external benchmarks.

Even with conservative assumptions, because of the size of the target audience, the cost of the learning development is significantly outweighed by even minor improvements in a combination of audit quality and audit efficiency—both of which are shown to be business impacts achieved by the program.

IBM: Active Engagement

A5-point increase in a client experience score can equal up to a 20 percent increase in average account revenue. IBM defines engagement as going above and beyond expectations to ensure IBM meets or exceeds its goals.

In the past, engagement surveys ran annually, typically in the fall. Last year, IBM took a different approach, implementing a staged progression of surveys throughout the year. This resulting data offered the chance to address leadership styles and behaviors directly related to the engagement feedback. Working in cross-HR teams to co-create and deploy a variety of learning experiences to strengthen overall engagement, IBM chose to employ a continuum model that evolved in response to engagement survey findings. The company was able to personalize and modify these experiences on demand.

Program Details

Putting a coherent experience together across IBM required a level of co-creation and collaboration that stretched across various business teams, including HR partners, Talent management, Engagement, Leadership, and Learning Development.

IBM used this initiative as an opportunity to re-examine the way it designs and implements leadership experiences. The company had to look at learning in a different way, increasing coherence (decreasing complexity) in connecting experiences and learning outcomes of its audiences. As such, content work-stream teams developed the following:

  • A Web presence called the IBM Engagement Toolkit. This unified entry point provides access to the learning, individual manager engagement survey results, and tools to support engagement actions. Managers can sign up for Engagement notifications from the Toolkit homepage and be notified with an e-mail when the toolkit is updated. Each focus area provides a definition, video of a business leader sharing his or her insights, key ideas, and a list of recommended actions.
  • Accelerating IBMer Engagement facilitator guide and slides. Accelerating Engagement workshop discussion (both face-to-face and live virtual classroom) includes:

a. Exploring the impact senior leaders have on engagement

b. Collecting insights from teams’ engagement survey results

c. Identifying actions for empowering teams to increase team engagement

d. Using Engagement Cards (see below) to better understand their teams’ unique challenges affecting engagement

  • Leadership videos used in the microlearning, as well as linked within the Engagement Toolkit and Leadership Academy topics
  • Engagement Discussion Guides. Materials for managers to conduct enablement sessions with teams or other managers
  • IBM Engagement Cards. Downloadable and digital versions are available. They are meant to be used in team discussions to highlight what is going well and identify team challenges.
  • Topic pages available through IBM’s Leadership Academy. These quick reads are easily shareable and can be used as part of any business meeting and/or can point to the latest resources.
  • Cognitive Talent Alerts. This tool collects information, and based on specific criteria, will “alert” managers about actions they should take for their employees. They can find it via IBM’s Manager Hub, and the data is already being leveraged on the Manager Employee Conversations page on Leadership Academy. IBM used engagement insights to create cognitive “observations” to put into Cognitive Talent Alerts. Then it used its expertise about engagement and leadership to come up with specific suggestions for actions managers should take.
  • Microlearning. Three- to five-minute messages that include video clips to reinforce and energize managers around topic areas relevant to their survey results. Mini-content kits are linked from communications through e-mail.

The Engagement Toolkit published in January 2018; the first engagement survey went out to a subset audience of IBMers in March. Then microlearning tailored to survey results from survey #1 were activated as part of follow-up communications.

The experience evolved throughout the year. Each time, IBM would review results from the most recent survey, identify new areas of focus, adjust/add to the learning assets as needed and then re-implement using agile methods of one- to two-week sprints prior to implementation.


Using the data from survey results, IBM could identify and prioritize the topics that addressed employee concerns in the moment. As a result, more than 70 percent of manager/leader development content has been refreshed or is new. So far, IBM has seen:

  • An increase in total number of certified IBM managers
  • An increase in the IBM engagement index within business units worldwide—up to a 9-point increase in certified managers’ own engagement compared to those who chose not to take the training and up to a 3-point increase in team engagement compared to those managers who chose not to take the training.

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