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  • 29 Jun 2017 11:59 PM | Anonymous

    Your company is growing! That’s the good news…but…it’s growing faster than you can effectively onboard new employees.  That is the situation Conifer Health faces every day, challenging its HR team to implement a brand new strategy to manage the organization’s talent in supporting the business’ goals.  The results?  An effective HR strategy that not only reinvents the company’s talent initiatives, but the progress so far has also earned it an Axis Award for Strategic Planning.


    Curious to learn how Conifer aligns its HR/Talent strategy to the Company’s vision of providing “the foundation for better health,” I connected with Cole Brown to learn more about their story.  What I found was a multi-faceted approach that is singularly focused on creating and reinforcing Conifer’s brand promise “We are Better Together as we live the Conifer life.” 


    Q:  Why was creating an employee “brand promise” so important to Conifer?


    A:  To drive consistency and excitement and build trust quickly. We had to learn what differentiated Conifer as an employer. We had to understand our team member value proposition, and answer the question: why would someone want to work here? That’s where the brand promise came in. We can promise more than just a paycheck. We can now promise career growth and almost unlimited opportunity because we are doing amazing things as a healthcare services firm – better together. We promise that we are better because of our new team members, and they will be better because of us. That’s our promise and our commitment.


    Q:  How do you go about developing an HR Strategy that tangibly supports and promotes the brand?


    A: We must listen to our team members, and did so, through focus groups and interviews with all levels from multiple locations around the country. We asked three questions:

    1.     What differentiates us as an employer?

    2.     What can we own in the marketplace as an employer?

    3.     What promise can we make to our team members and deliver on every time?

    From there, we developed a team member value proposition that connects with, and is relevant to, our business purpose and strategy. If our business purpose is to be the foundation for better health, then our value proposition must support it and our team members. That’s why Better Together makes a great connection. Better Health means we have to be Better Together as a team. From there, we analyzed our organization to identify gaps and barriers – what was keeping us from being Better Together? Once we identified those gaps, we started to build out our new talent strategy. That work continues today – getting Better Together and honing our talent strategy as we grow.


    Q:  How did you roll it out to ensure the new strategy would be adopted by team members?


    A:  We started by hosting a number of Town Halls to keep team members informed about the transition each step of the way.  We then hosted special Orientation events followed by thank you notes and a formal welcome letter.  Finally, we rolled out bi-weekly videos to support the transition of new team members and leaders, and provided a half-day leadership workshop for the new management team. But more than that – everything we did was to create a compelling new hire experience that connects people emotionally to our purpose, to other team members, and to the exciting possibilities ahead.


    Q:  There is a lot of talk these days about the impact of ‘story telling.’  How did you use stories to make sure the brand promise really resonated with employees?


    A:  We didn’t want to communicate with typical “business speak,” which can often be void of emotion. We needed buy- in and excitement from team members. Storytelling is the way to drive emotion. It helps our approach get beyond the pure logical connection to what we’re doing, and it engages the heart. Change can be hard, and our team members will deal with it better when their hearts are in it.


    Q:  What one or two pieces of advice would you give to other HR/Talent functions who really want to connect employees to the organization’s goals/vision?


    A:  First, this doesn’t start in the board room; it starts in the field. Talk to your team members. Listen a lot to what they are saying – and then be prepared to do something about it. Second, adopt some marketing principles. Don’t just be informative with your communications, be engaging. Capture their hearts as well as their heads. Finally, make sure it connects to the business in a way that drives the business forward. Our work in HR/Talent Management has to be of strategic value. We’re only of strategic value when we move the needle of real business metrics. 


    To learn more about Conifer's Award Winning initiative, visit the 2016 AXIS Awards Winners Webpage.

  • 06 Jun 2017 12:12 PM | Anonymous

    By Dee Dick



    Always interested in learning about best practices in talent development, I caught up with Amy Gingerich, Sr. Manager of Training and Development at Pizza Hut, to talk about their AXIS award-winning program, The Launch Pad.


    Q: What about gamification appealed to your team?


    A: “Our team loves gamification!” Pizza Hut found that out by building just one course in a gamified version, with collecting elements like smiles representing customer satisfaction and hearts representing brand love as rewards for correct answers. With 50,000 responses to the course reaction survey, 94% say they enjoy the game-like interaction, and those numbers continue to prove out as the course reaches three years in production.


    Q: How did your team get buy-in from the organization to make the investment?


    A: “First, Pizza Hut is a learning organization. We wanted to make sure Team Members could get to their training quickly and easily. So the idea of “hiding” the LMS by having the new rebranded platform reside on top of the LMS became the business case. Pizza Hut demonstrated how the new program validates the skills inside the course, rather than with a test at the end. An unexpected, but welcome, side effect is training time, which was significantly reduced by incorporating skill-building games inside the course.


    Q: What was your over-arching process – build then gamify, or build gamified?


    A: “Pizza Hut built each course gamified!” First Pizza Hut determined the learning objectives for each course, then worked with its vendor, MLink, to identify the best way to achieve those objectives through game play. One thing Pizza Hut discovered is that some of the courses really required a small “pre-download” that either set some context, or explained some rules for playing.


    Q: How did you roll it out?


    A: “In waves: that way we could begin replacing old content as soon as possible.” With 150,000 Team Members across the system, Pizza Hut needed to get the training up and running – beginning with Customer Service Representatives, then Delivery Drivers, and lastly Food Production. That method also allowed for an agile approach to development.


    Q: What are some key points that you learned about using gamification through this project?


    A: Four come to mind immediately:


    1. The importance of the pre-download for setting context for the user.


    2. Keeping the activity balanced – not too easy or too complex. If it’s too complicated to learn how to play the game, you’re less likely to actually play.


    3. Again, around context: set a realistic expectation. Example: Some courses are designed to be “more challenging than others and therefore, require more than one round of game play (sort of like linear games – if you mess up you have to start over). Users are more relaxed when they realize that it’s supposed to be that way.


    4. Test! Test! Test! It’s incredibly important to test the games prior to launch to ensure the learners have a seamless learning experience.


    Q: What advice would you give to others who are considering adding gaming elements to their learning?


    A: Build your strongest business case by figuring out what the real need is and, based on that analysis, build a pilot!


    Q: Finally, any other thoughts you’d like to share?


    A: Yes! Our relationship with IT is critical!” IT should be your #1 business partner, along with your development team. Be sure all of critical players have a seat at the table.


    Curious to hear more? You can learn more about Pizza Hut’s Award Winning initiative on the 2016 AXIS Awards Winners Webpage or at our Chapter Meeting on June  20th


What initiatives are YOU working on?  Consider sharing your story via AXIS!

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