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Case Study: Embracing Game-Based Training for Frontline Employees

Sound familiar: How do you cross-train a 767-strong workforce with projections hitting 1,000 by summer with the brand mission?
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For an institution so steeped in tradition, it may sound like a bold move to deviate from traditional classroom learning and to adopt a game-based and simulations training platform for South Shore YMCA’s L&D. In reality it felt like a natural evolution for the Y.  We needed a solution that suits the needs of our diverse workforce.

Similar Challenges to Hotels

Much like the hotel industry, we have an extremely diverse workforce across a wide range of disciplines with seasonal patterns, transient staff, and part-time staff. That makes it extremely challenging to get people together for training, and a one-size-fits-all approach is absolutely insufficient to achieve our goals. How do you cross-train a 767 strong workforce with projections hitting 1,000 by summer, with the brand mission of the Y in these circumstances?

We wanted a training solution that could connect employees across roles, generations and locations, that is easily accessible in the flow of work, provides a safe space for employees to experience mistakes and learn from them, and that provides realistic context so the lessons can be applied in real life.  

We realized quickly that the Attensi platform is flexible enough to meet the needs of all of our audiences.

Fun and Engaging

The platform enabled us to power our training program with technology to bring everyone together in a fun and engaging way, without them having to be in the same place at the same time. They could train across multiple devices at times that work for them, around their shifts.

We could achieve a real sense of connection with the brand, its people and its mission. It’s an immersive experience with realistic scenarios, so even very temporary staff are immersed in the mission of the Y in a realistic context. 

We have temp staff now playing custom game-based training curriculum and competing against the CEO – that sense of inclusivity and connection is hard to match. It gives visibility to who is here and what is happening.

Measuring Impact Results 

The analytics tools help us to assess the value that our training adds. That is something we were not equipped to measure before. When people engage with the training and they are speaking with knowledge and pride about the Y – it comes through in customer satisfaction, sales, and retention. It inspires people to be at their best and take pride in their work. That shows in results.  

Designing Training In-House 

As well as opting for specific cutting edge training solutions within the platform on a case-by-case basis, I have become a content creator along with my colleague. The tools give us the freedom to design and update our content in-house.

Having that flexibility to plan and create our own content is really important.

You don’t need to be techy – there is no need for code. You do need to be able to tell a story.

For me, designing training is really about learning how humans work and having the tools at your disposal to help you achieve your end goals.

Strategic Planning for Training 

We have seasonal training requirements and priority training requirements at the Y, usually creating four key training programs a year. At the moment, we’re working on a child abuse prevention training solution. In spring the focus will be more seasonal with camps. That is a big draw for this platform. Speed to content and the ability to be independent means you can meet your goals on time.

As the platform rolls out across more YMCAs in the US, we are excited to evolve further and inspire more people to continue the story of the Y with pride and customer service at the heart of everything we do.

About the Author

Alexandra Mason leads the HR and Training function of the South Shore YMCA, a medium-size non-profit organization operating in communities south of Boston. She has a background in HR and operations and a strong passion for building highly creative teams and profitable operations. 

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