ATD Dallas AXIS Awards recognize innovative organizations that achieve results in workplace learning and talent development. The AXIS Awards are open to small and large private, public and not-for-profit organizations from the DFW area.
Congratulations to the 2021 AXIS Awards Winners!
2021 AXIS Awards Winners
Best in Show
1st Place – Comerica
In 2016, Comerica embarked on a transformational journey to redesign our lending operating model. This was a massive undertaking and would impact employee roles and responsibilities immensely. The initiative had a strong program structure, but adoption was at risk without dedicated Change Management support.
Our Change Management Practice follows Prosci’s structured approach - 1) Prepare for Change, 2) Manage the Change and 3) Reinforce the Change. Strong Executive Change Sponsors were secured at initiation of the program to help provide direction and guidance, demonstrating the leadership’s and the organization’s commitment to change. We launched a Change Agent role to drive and monitor the adoption of high-medium change and a Navigator program, similar to a buddy program to accelerate our employees’ speed to proficiency related to new policies, processes, and technology.
We also developed role-based training and job aids to help ease the learning curve. Weekly live Knowledge Hour opportunities addressed high-medium topics and pain points. Subject Matter Expert (SME) support was provided to reinforce training from day one to two weeks after go-live. A dedicated SharePoint site was developed and included links to role-based training, interactive job aids, knowledge hours etc. Communication was applied throughout the project with a focus on the impacted employees. We promoted and utilized the Prosci ADKAR model for guiding and achieving lasting change (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement).
Quantitative and qualitative results revealed our dedicated Change Management support increased change adoption and benefit realization. Evaluation metrics (training, skill proficiency and adoption) confirmed colleagues conquered the desired state behaviors to successfully perform their day-to-day responsibilities, operating model efficiencies were realized, and confidence in Executive Leadership’s commitment to supporting change was increased.
2nd Place – A-MAX Auto Insurance
Prior to COVID 19, we were already noticing our in-person customer service training was expensive and inefficient for the organization. This was exacerbated by a period of extremely high growth for the organization and the typical turnover ratios of entry-level customer service positions.
Then COVID-19 happened, and we were no longer able to offer the traditional instructor-led classroom training requiring a rapid shift to a virtual training solution. For this initiative to be successful, we had to motivate the sales field, including leaders, to change their mindset regarding virtual training delivery. There were three things we did to help this change become successful: 1. we evaluated and adjusted our curriculum for virtual delivery, 2. we engaged leaders and managers in the field offices to manage enrollment and onboarding of new employees, and 3. we gained buy-in and sponsorship from senior leadership for the new strategy and all the resources required.
Our change to virtual training has had very positive impacts for the organization. In looking at the efficiencies gained we are projecting an ROI of 245%. On average, 84% of survey respondents rate the virtual training 5 on a 5 point scale and we have only seen a 2% drop in participants overall survey ratings as compared to pre-virtual delivery. Given those results, we are confident we have successfully transitioned from traditional to virtual learning as our primary modality for customer service training.
1st place – A-MAX Auto Insurance
Over the past eighteen years, A-MAX Auto Insurance has grown organically from a single entity office to over 190 offices, a call center, and a corporate office. Although we aim to hire talent within our service community to create an affinity with our customer base, our core talent base is unskilled with limited to no management experience. Noticing these deficiencies, the leadership team decided to focus on developing front line managers
The design team conducted a study to understand the desired needs capabilities of a successful sales leader which led to the formation of a new branch position focused on recruiting, hiring, developing, coaching, and creating a sales environment to meet and exceed the monthly production goals. A vital component in preparing branch sales managers for their new role is the assignment of a performance coach who schedules routine visits, coaching sessions, and follow-up sessions with the new BSM to help them consistently apply the new behaviors to move them to habits.
The organization saw three quantifiable results from this coaching program: 1. It helped the managers assimilate and apply what they learned quickly. 2. It saved the company approximately $100,000 in recruiting, hiring, onboarding, licensing and training. 3. It significantly increased employee and manager engagement.
2nd Place – Parkland Health and Hospital Systems
A major department of the hospital had experienced multiple SVP changes within 6 years. Employee morale and trust in leadership was low. Areas of the department functioned as silos and this behavior led to perceived competition and limited collaboration and accountability. There were a significant number of vacancies in the department and employee retention, especially within the first year of employment, was low.
To address leadership accountability concerns, the Leadership Development team partnered with FranklinCovey to co-create a coaching program built on The 7 Habits of Effective People and The Speed of Trust. Leaders were trained in the Four-Square Coaching Model (Coaching as Leadership Style, by Dr. Robert Hicks) and weekly individual and group coaching sessions were implemented at all leadership levels to reinforce use of the new behaviors in current real-time situations, with each level of leadership taking responsibility for coaching the next. This cascade approach helped sustain the new behaviors in the department and increased trust, collaboration and accountability.
Initial evaluation results have indicated: 1. a significant increase in the frequency and consistency of skill application by leaders, 2. an increase in leader competence and confidence using the new skills, and 3. an enhanced ability to respond effectively to challenges, improve relationships across the department, and shift to a more effective leadership style.
Talent Strategy and Management
1st Place – PrimeLending
In a year that saw the housing industry reach a record number of mortgages closed, it became imperative to train and develop leaders from within the company that could meet our growing demands. Our aim was to create a talent development program that would embody these ideals.
We successfully created our own culture-based talent development program through an understanding of the existing and future skillset needs of the company. Our Leading, Energizing, and Accelerating Performance (LEAP) program is unique blend of coach-led, cohort-based pod meetings and activities over a seven-month period, focusing on different aspects of team leadership, culture and partnerships, and peak performance. Additionally, the program is designed to provide the learner with myriad opportunities to go beyond understanding our core cultural values and leap into a framework centered on self-leadership, team effectiveness, and organizational impact.
Overall the program has produced more engaged and knowledgeable leaders, more effective teams in the corporate and sales settings, and stronger cross-functional collaboration and partnerships within our company as well as with our parent company. This not only allowed for the sharing of best practices and collaboration across departments, but also provided opportunities for remote participants to have the same learning opportunities and engaging activities.
2nd Place – First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation
Due to extreme market demand for mortgage financing our business needed to find more process efficiency, expand our recruiting pipeline, and increase employee retention. Project Greenfield was formed to re-design our Operating System and revamp all existing workflows in Production and Operations. Training would be an essential part of the transition to new efficiencies.
Our strategy included: 1. a complete a thorough Needs Analysis of current and anticipated needs, 2. the creation of a universal core training for all roles to facilitate the change, 3. a strong partnership with the business to provide SME system demonstrations during training for role-specific changes, and scheduled live Q&A follow-up sessions for employees to connect with SMEs outside of the support center to ask for clarification on any project-related topic
We trained employees on time, with approved content, and employees are performing their roles successfully. Less than 8% of calls to the Command Center regarding Project Greenfield were “how do I …” related questions. Moreover, business leaders have expressed appreciation for the efficiency of the program and have been impressed with employee performance.
Data and Analytics
1st Place – Children’s Health
Over the past decade, there has been an increase in workplace violence. The influx of disruptive, aggressive patient and visitor situations left clinical staff in our pediatric healthcare organization feeling unsafe and ill-equip in caring and escalating situations for acutely agitated or disruptive situations.
A 2019 survey conducted by clinical educators discovered only 27% of staff felt safe when handling an aggressive patient. To support and enhance a culture of safety, a two-level support system was created to provide a systematic and consistent response to behavioral health emergencies: 1. the designation of a Collaborative Approach to Preventing Escalation (CAPE) Consultant with specialized training who works collaboratively with the care team to diffuse an escalating patient, parent, or visitor situation; 2. the establishment of a Behavioral Emergency Response Team (BERT) to assist and intervene with an acutely agitated patient with the goal of maintaining patient, staff, visitor, and provider safety.
An incremental learning approach was used for the activation group and an array of modern learning techniques was used with the response teams. Highlighted examples include- social learning, simulations, and debriefing. A flipped learning approach allowed for application of skills during mock events. Mobile-on-demand resources surrounded training along with the creation of an intranet resource webpage to provide resources for staff.
One-year post implementation, and over 100 BERT responses, a follow up survey revealed staffs’ perception of personal safety more than doubled to 55%. This illustrated that BERT is a valuable staff resource and supports a safer work environment.
1st place – First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation
Regulations are a common part of workplaces today and new updates to existing regulations inundate employees and companies alike. Systems, processes, and courses all require changes when an update comes down the pipeline.
Our goal was to create a new compliance training program that would be aligned with regulatory requirements and the company’s bottom line while still providing our associates an efficient, up-to-date user experience. Previous programs were created and updated by full-time learning design employees, which was costly and prone to human error. To improve efficiency, we partnered with a compliance expert who could provide new trainings and update them when new regulatory updates were passed. This required an overhaul of our LMS system to ensure an effortless roll out to associates, easing most technical challenges.
As a result of these changes, 100% of staff enrolled in the annual training completed it by the due date and the business is already seeing a downturn in compliance-related issues/errors. By staying compliant and alleviating compliance-related oversights we have avoided paying the fines and penalties that many of our industry competitors had to absorb in 2019 (to the tune of $10-70 million dollars).
Career and Leadership Development
1st Place – Pizza Hut
The Lead On! Restaurant General Manager (RGM) program is leadership development created to empower RGMs to lead the culture, the team, and the restaurant with confidence and autonomy through story-based learning experiences.
In our conversations with current RGMs we learned that new RGMs are typically ill equipped to handle many of the new situations they face when they enter their new role, and therefore lack the confidence needed to perform well. While most RGMs eventually “figured it out,” that first year is notoriously one of their most difficult years as a leader.
Recognizing this need we partnered with key stakeholders to develop a blended learning experience that supports our brand promise to help others become their best. We divided the learning into short training modules focused on the key behaviors for an effective leader. Using this approach, we reduced the total training time by 52% while still going deep with each topic and providing the learner an opportunity to practice through realistic scenarios and simulations with immediate feedback. Coupling this with on-the-job activities guided by a trainer, we were able to fulfill the need that RGMs shared with us, helping them gain the RGM-specific behaviors and skills for success prior to promotion.
2nd Place – HMS – A Gainwell Technologies Company
HMS was in a rapid growth mode through acquisition and organic growth. To support this growth and meet the needs of a larger organization, a formal, comprehensive leadership program, LEAD (Leadership Excellence and Development), was created. The goal of the program was to create a talent pipeline for the next generation of leaders.
The program focuses on growing the leadership capability of a select group of high-potential, mid-to-senior level leaders. The program curriculum is supported by both external vendors and internal partners who provide content on topics such as strategic thinking, leading change, business acumen and executive presence. It utilizes multiple learning methods including assessments, coaching, virtual and in-person learning centered on real-world application and problem solving, and individual learning plans.
Within 2 years the LEAD program filled our talent pipeline, with over half of graduates advancing to the next level of leadership and has resulted in a 90% retention of leaders.
Learning & Development Design & Delivery
1st Place – Cardinal Health
Our call center hub provides patient access to care for vulnerable populations that require extra care, empathy, and consideration by our call agents in all phone interactions. Following the roll-out of a third-party hospitality training intervention, which comprised of six consecutive in-person modules with significant cost, our call centers were still experiencing low customer service, call quality, and KPI scores.
To resolve this issue, we assembled an in-house multi-location learning and development team to design, develop, and facilitate an on-demand industry and business-specific blended learning customer service training program, called EASEE (Empathy, Acknowledge, Seek, Explain and Establish).
The program includes six micro e-learnings, each with a corresponding instructor-led or virtual instructor-led practice session with job aids and reference materials, followed by reinforcement questions and gameplay in our microlearning platform, a live skills-based assessment and Metrics That Matter (MTM) surveys to measure instructor efficacy, content engagement, and job relevance. It also included training for supervisors to supply them with the vital skills of customer service and to coach and provide feedback to their call center agents.
By utilizing internal resources, we were able to save the company over $165,000.00 in on-going costs, and our MTM data yielded an average of 4.9 out of 5 for Content Engagement and Job Relevance, and 4.5 out of 5 for instructor efficacy. The EASEE program has prepared our call center agents to consistently achieve the 85% - 92% goal for call quality scores. This internally created and facilitated program additionally allows for efficient on-going enhancement by internal resources.
2nd Place – Children’s Health
As a healthcare organization, we have an abundance of regulatory courses that staff are required to take every year. Although our existing training program met the regulatory requirements, we saw opportunities to reimagine our compliance training deliverables to better meet the needs of our organization and provide an engaging experience for our team members. This included rethinking our design, creating role-based curricula, addressing accessibility needs, and establishing a plan for governance. To achieve this, we set a joint goal with our Compliance department and collaborated with content owners from across the organization including Infection Prevention, Emergency Management, Security, and Information Services.
We successfully redesigned the program from top to bottom using delivery methods that would address the varied needs of our diverse audience including, accessibility needs, reading levels, and different learning styles. We created different curricula for each of the varied roles in the healthcare environment so that each learner received the appropriate content for their role. Finally, we developed a policy that governs the addition of new information in the program. The redesigned program has been resoundingly well-received by our learners.
Overall, we saw positive improvements in the learner reaction to the program on our post training surveys, including an 87% overall satisfaction scores, an uptick in our engagement survey scores related to knowing what is expected at work and a dramatic decrease in the personal coaching time required to complete the training.
Culture Awareness and Inclusion
1st Place – Parkland Hospital and Health System
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the outsized impact people of color and the disabled are facing. An uptick in racism against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have prompted a widespread outcry of the systemic inequalities that exist in policing our communities. Employees who are a part of these groups are experiencing trauma that they cannot compartmentalize when at work, and others are thinking about how they can take action to support marginalized colleagues and clients. This led to the identification of Allyship as a solution, enabling employees at Parkland to funnel their desire to help into action.
Our Allyship Initiative began with two components: 1. we curated a collection of suggested activities in an online library, which initially and intentionally focused on the Black American experience; 2. we launched a self-guided and group-oriented voluntary journey (21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge) to encourage employees to take action in creating a workplace culture where all employees feel valued, supported and heard.
Today, the Allyship Initiative continues to offer activities to support allies – such as monthly email prompts, monthly forums to discuss learning activities, a dialogue to action program for leaders to explore challenges and ways to create greater equity and inclusion, unconscious bias training, an ally skills workshop, inclusive leadership training, and support for intact work teams.
Nearly 1000 employees registered for our first 21-Day Challenge and the Journey to Allyship Library remained among the top visited pages on the intranet site throughout the Challenge with 77% of participants visiting the library 1-3 times per week. Over 90% of participants reported gains in awareness of racial inequities and systemic racism and committed to continue learning, take intentional action as an ally, and speak up or act when they observe inequity in the workplace.
2nd Place – Bell
While mentorship has been a part of our organization for over a decade, our expectation for tremendous growth in the coming years and a heavy focus on diversity, inclusion and belonging, meant there was no better time to reevaluate the current program and find a better way to engage, connect, and develop our workforce.
After identifying areas for improvement in the current mentoring program, we determined that it really needed a complete overhaul and so we created Boundless. In addition to crafting a new mentor pairing process that would create high quality relationships fueling connection and growth, we added two elements to support our vision: 1. Touchpoint Topics, which are conversation guides that contain activities and discussion questions on topics such as diversity, leadership, volunteering, performance etc. to promote grounded conversations between mentors and mentees; 2. Monthly engagement meetings which are formal programs that include speakers or activities for all mentors and mentees in the program.
To date, we have had over 350 employees begin participating in the program, which represents a 400% growth over our previous mentoring program. We continue to see program interest rise, and because of continued advocacy from leadership, we expect the engagement to increase even further. Boundless has participants representing 17 global sites – a 143% increase over the previous program.
Future Readiness & Talent Initiatives / COVID’19
1st Place – Corgan
Campus Recruiting breathes life into our organization and student interns and new graduates are responsible for half our yearly hires year-to-year. Our student intern program is a vital piece of our culture of collaboration and agility. After pivoting to a completely virtual internship in 2020 and seeing the successes that followed, we decided to host our firm’s second ever virtual internship program in 2021. The virtual setting allowed us to develop an all-new program in which we introduced new opportunities and projects for students to experience all of what our firm offers while collaborating with fellow students.
The 2021 Virtual Internship program is a 6-week experience in which students experience the work, people, and culture of the firm. Week 1 is focused on onboarding and orientation. Week 2 and 3 students participate in a 2-week design sprint with our research and development arm. Weeks 4 through 6 students join their respective studios and worked within project teams to gain real-world experience from industry professionals.
As a result of this year’s virtual internship, our organization extended 7 full-time offers and 3 returning student offers; all offers have been accepted. In addition to accepted offers, we have leveraged our relationships with former interns to cultivate existing university relationships and develop new ones. Finally, one of the design concepts developed by a student intern team participating in the design sprint garnered the attention of design professions internally and externally to our organization. This team designed a shoe that generates energy with every footstep and pairs with a device to deposit harvested energy back into the grid. Our research and development studio continue to develop this design concept and is speaking with industry leaders on the new concept.
2nd Place – Children’s Health
Entering the unexpected state of COVID-19, people inherently wanted to help, but were initially unsure of the breadth or impact of this virus. As healthcare professionals, our learning specialists wanted to do all they could to help and make an impact.
From a training perspective, efforts were three-fold: 1. Immediate safety training was essential for the healthcare staff, conservation of personal protective equipment (PPE) was a must, and a long-term plan was required for sustainment of our routine training programs. The solution was just-in-time safety training that changed daily based on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, with the primary focus on PPE. Our biggest takeaway from this training was flexibility and promotion.
Simultaneous to the immediate safety needs, a key training focused on conservation of PPE given the nationwide shortage. Efforts began to track and change practices to conserve, which required multidisciplinary training. Following multiple training sessions and modalities, the main takeaway was positive resulting in a reduction of N-95 use.
Finally, the effort shifted to a longer-term plan for training mitigation regarding the instructional programs already in progress. With the partnership of our COVID-19 incident command center, we developed a detailed plan for training based on priorities and balancing social distancing for staff safety.
Keeping the mission of Making Life Better for Children at heart drives the commitment to training and the safety of our employees. Establishing processes for training mitigation and staff safety has contributed to positive outcomes, and we will continue to flex and meet the needs for the unknown future.
Dee Dick Lifetime Achievement Award
Volunteers of the Year