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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 2019 AXIS Awards Winners!

2019 AXIS Awards Winners

Best in Show

Chili's / Brinker International (Design and Delivery)

Change Management

1st Place - Charles Schwab

There is a tremendous need to decrease turnover in organizations. Turnover is of great concern because of the high financial and productivity costs to businesses. Replacing an employee costs 90-200% of the employee’s annual salary.

When conducting exit interviews most employees state they leave within the first two years because of poor onboarding, lack of training and lack of opportunities. Many employees experience a difficult transition from school to work in their first job. We knew something had to be done to keep our best and brightest.

In 2017, an idea was born to recruit new technologists and help them transition from school to work. The program was named NERD (New Employee Recruitment and Development). The NERD Program prepares our future leaders for success by providing the best tools, knowledge and resources to ensure success. Additionally, it gives the NERDs direct access to Senior Leaders that will help empower them to be the creators and innovators of tomorrow. The 9-month NERD program not only helps support the transition from school to work, but it equips the NERDS with skills and knowledge to make them an innovative and successful techie.

The primary audience for this presentation will be key stakeholders who are impacted by employee engagement and retention. This study is significant because if our NERD program demonstrates our ability to recruit, develop and retain top talent, we will be able to demonstrate that longer onboarding periods are more impactful to engagement and retention for other organizations.


1st Place - Texas Capital Bank

Our Summer Internship is a highly sought-after and rigorous 8-week paid summer experience designed to prepare college students majoring in Finance and Accounting, between their junior and senior year, insight, coaching, and guidance to transition into a successful career in commercial banking. The hands-on curriculum is designed to provide the interns with the tools, skills, technical knowledge, and professional relationships needed to build a long and successful career in the banking industry.

Throughout the 2-month internship experience, the interns learn from subject matter experts throughout the organization on how to analyze financial statements and to prepare credit approval packages. By the end of the program, the credit analysts are exposed to over 20 SMEs and a variety of clients, throughout all our operating regions and markets. Interns perform research and present data to the greater credit organization.

Our internship program also provides a way to coach the newer leaders. If the individual is new to management, they need guidance along the way. However, beginning with an intern is often less stressful than managing established employees and gives new managers or managers-to-be an opportunity learn new management skills and to practice them.

Design and Delivery

1st Place - Chili's / Brinker International

In 2017, the brand began the transition from a dated paper-based training program to an all new mobile learning program for hourly Team Members. The previous program was heavily dependent on instructor-led training and print material, which proved to be costly and time consuming when updating.

It was also cumbersome for the learner, with too much expected for a new-hire to learn in their first week. They didn’t retain the information and there was variability from restaurant to restaurant and trainer to trainer. The previous program also lacked a process for tracking completion beyond the restaurant level. Multi-unit (regional and area) leaders lacked visibility into training progress across the brand. A change was needed. The solution? A new comprehensive mobile learning program featuring a combination of interactive digital content, videos, instructor-led training and hands-on practice, today’s program offers a variety of delivery methods for all types of adult learners.

The new curriculum is organized within custom learning paths designed for each job role in the restaurant – whether they’re a Host, Server, Bartender, or Cook, Team Members will participate in one or more structured learning paths.

With mobile learning, the brand now offers a training program that is strategically aligned with key performance objectives, easily accessible and designed with tomorrow’s learner in mind. Based on quantitative data, the new mobile learning program has been an immediate success for the brand—each component of the strategy playing its part to deliver a relevant and effective training experience for new Team Members while positively impacting business results.

2nd Place - RealPage Inc

Our goal was to design a learning strategy to touch all our employees, from individual contributors to frontline leaders to directors and above. The problems to be solved were a diverse, highly millennial population, finding a way to reach global and remote employees in a way that could be consistent and scalable across borders, and keeping costs at minimum due to our business model where HR bears the costs of training.

The solution to this was to design a suite of programs and offerings to address the identified needs of each audience. First, we defined the audiences as 6 unique groups: individual contributors, HIPOS, frontline leaders, Leaders of leaders, Directors and VPs and above.

For each of these audiences we used metrics to guide our decisions: our engagement survey, pulse surveys and targeted surveys to identify both learning needs and preferred ways of learning. The challenge was to provide something for everyone while keeping it relevant to each group, and to ensure we could scale this globally. Our 6 offerings meet our goals and form our learning strategy. The majority of these are in place, with one program in pilot stage and rolling out globally in Q4, and the other in the final stages of development.

Key takeaways are that the scope of this strategy is much bigger and requires much more coordination than originally identified, and that we need to be able to flex content and format to accommodate the resources in our remote offices. Our strategy is now in place, having been developed in 2019, and we are well on our way to having all the moving pieces in place by Q4. Feedback from our employees is that they are very grateful and appreciate the new offerings.

Diversity and Inclusion

1st Place - American Airlines

The 2019 “Preventing Sexual Harassment” web-based training (WBT) is the first airline-industry specific course covering difficult situations for job roles across the industry, including corporate roles, flight attendants, pilots and ramp agents. The WBT was a required course rolled-out enterprise-wide (all 130,000 Team Members).

Sexual harassment in airline work environments can be different than harassment in office settings, so it was important for our organization to empower our team members. Through the course, team members can identify sexual harassment, address sexual harassment in their work environment using bystander intervention techniques and report sexual harassment.

The implemented learning solution contained real-world scenarios based on sexual harassment stories sourced through news outlets and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

2nd Place - Alkami Technology

Cultivating a conscious culture takes thoughtful planning and consistency. Keep in mind, words on the break room wall or in the employee handbook are not enough. Our culture must come to life through continuous actions and behaviors. Most importantly, it takes the continuous practice of thinking, acting, and interacting.

While we do many things at our company to reinforce our culture, we know that the continuous investment in culture is critical. We are a fast-growing organization, and we recognize if we are not intentional about our culture, it could easily slip away.

To provide some perspective, six years ago our company had 20 employees, 10 clients and 0.1M number of users on our digital banking platform. Today with have nearly 500 employees, 130 clients, and nearly 7M users on our platform with GAAP Revenue CAGR increase of 156%. We are considered one of the fastest growing software companies in Texas and ranked among one of the fastest growing privately‐held software companies in the US. And, our growth is forecasted to continue exponentially for multiple years ahead. So, the investment in our culture is critical, or it will be diluted. This is why we developed and implemented our Essential Culture Training.

Leadership Development

1st Place - Children's Health

We were faced with business needs related to increasing employee engagement, retention concerns, succession planning, and ensuring a diverse and inclusive leadership pipeline to be representative of our employee and patient populations. A key solution was the Emerging Leader Acceleration Program (ELAP), which was designed for high-performing individual contributors who were seeking answers to what is next in their career journey

The program is unique in that participants are able to self-nominate and are selected through a selection committee of leaders throughout the organization. This self-nomination method allows employees to be able to raise their hand and demonstrate an interest in this kind of development opportunity. We also train the selection committee on unconscious bias to ensure all individual contributors have an opportunity to participate.

Five cohorts have been completed between fall of 2017 and spring of 2019 with an internal advancement rate of 32% and a retention rate of 88%.

2nd Place - Comerica Bank

Problem: Although we have two formal and successful approaches to leadership development, one for vice presidents (VP) and another for senior officers, we did not have a diverse and sustainable leadership pipeline at levels below vice president. This was an important opportunity for several reasons:

Solution: We researched, designed and developed a six-month Emerging Leader Program (ELP) for Officer and AVP level employees, i.e., employees below the VP level. The purpose of the program was to enable selected employees, ~40 employees per program, to increase their leadership capacity and confidence to enhance job performance so that the company had a stronger and ready talent bench.

After the inaugural program, we determined the frequency of the program to be every other year. The cost of the program is ~$2,500 per participant which is paid for by the business unit.

The key takeaways for the organization were increased colleague motivation, engagement and retention, improved productivity as a result of better decision making, emotional intelligence, and relationship management.

Learning Technology

1st Place - Dentsply Sirona | SureSmile

As the global leader in the dental and orthodontics industry, it is our responsibility to deliver meaningful innovation and maintain our customer focus every day. To support this, our company spends over $125 million every year to advance dentistry and has the largest R&D platform with over 600 scientists and engineers. We also have the largest practice support team in dentistry, with over 4,000 people dedicated to our customers around the world every day. In addition to clinical support and education, we provide practice development services, helping improve efficiencies and drive the growth of dental practices.

Delivering the right information to this audience at the right time is a tall order when you consider we are training our orthodontic clients and our employees to perform their best in very complex work environments with sophisticated, ever-changing products. Our audience is over 350,000 professionals in over 80 countries. To deliver on this critical need, we’ve configured a platform that delivers on-demand learning content in multiple languages to various audiences in several different countries according to their unique learning needs.

This platform predicts the learning community’s needs and prioritizes learning content based on what each audience needs at any given point in time. This platform also allows our learners to consume the content on any platform they wish—mobile optimized and desktop enabled, delivering a fantastic user experience for both. In the first quarter after launching our SureSmileU learning solution, course completions were up 500% over the prior year's total using a traditional LMS. Positive trends continue in engagement scores, course starts, and course completions as we move into year two with commercial rollouts in more countries worldwide to support both the internal customer—sales and field team members—as well as our end users—clinicians and their teams.

2nd Place - Children's Health

When someone is addicted to controlled substances (opioids), they will look for them anywhere. If they’re a healthcare worker in a hospital, they can find opioids where they work. This includes taking them from the hospital supply, stealing prescription pads, retrieving leftover medication from the trash, or even taking them directly from the patient’s dosage. In a healthcare setting, these acts of stealing are known as diversion. Our organization must have the proper procedures in place to prevent diversion and the proper training for staff to ensure the safety of our patients and the well-being of our team members.

Our pediatric hospital provided organization-wide training, targeted to team members based on their roles, including leaders, bedside staff, and pharmacy staff. A training campaign was designed to target different roles and different topics surrounding this important issue. This training for all members prepared the learner to address situations such as finding an individual under the influence of controlled substances, finding medications that are not under proper control, or suspecting the diversion of controlled substances for personal use. The specific Registered Nurse staff training reviewed the proper process for preparation, waste, and administration of these medications.

We utilized several types of technology to deliver the training. We produced a podcast to highlight the struggles of drug addiction in a healthcare environment. We also created in-house videos that showed the correct processes for retrieving, administering, and wasting controlled substances. These videos were also used as part of the learning sustainment. The software used to create the various components of the training included Powtoon, Camtasia, Audacity, Articulate Storyline, Camtasia, Adobe After Effects, Cornerstone, and a QR code generator. This technology was combined in a seamless experience for our learners.

Performance Improvement

1st Place - PrimeLending

Technology has taken over modern society; and the modern Learning and Development experience is no exception. Automation, artificial intelligence, and virtual realities provide the learner with a personalized, efficient, and immersive learning experiences that raised the bar on how learners expect to learn. But how do you provide this level of quality, without the technology budget?

In order for our consumers to benefit from this modern experience, our sales professionals needed to not only undergo training in new systems, but also to adopt a new culture. This cultural shift fundamentally changes the way the sales professional does business and requires many of them to leave their comfort zone. With the average age of the sales professional being 50 years old with 12 to 20 years of experience in the industry… this was not an easy task and needed to be approached delicately. Our approach began by partnering with key stakeholders, including members of the technology, marketing, and application support departments, to identify how the training department could align with this initiative to transform our sales professionals into Modern Originators and ultimately result in greater market share and ROI.

Our performance improvement solution included reviewing and critiquing our current processes, content mediums, organizational structure, data collection, analysis structure, and the design and delivery method. Ultimately, we needed to provide the learner with an experience that focused on the three outcomes of modern learning technology: personalization, efficiency, and an immersive experience. We successfully achieved this by replacing ‘big tech’ with genuine human interaction.

2nd Place - Sendero

Our team decided to refresh our company’s performance management processes after three years without any changes to the program. The goal of this initiative was to clarify expectations and streamline our processes, and the target audience was our entire employee-base. The initiative involved a comprehensive evaluation of our processes, tools, and resources in order to streamline and ensure we are measuring the right things to grow and develop our people.

We noticed that our employees’ performance was becoming enmeshed with their growth and development, leading to confusion and redundancies within our processes, so we set out to solve that problem. The solution was to separate methods used to measure performance from programs and tools intended to support growth and development. In addition to improving old processes and tools, we also created completely new resources for our employees.

Key takeaways from performance management at our organization are:

  • It is important to continue to weigh business results (what we do) and culture results (how we do it) equally
  • Performance conversations should be conducted on an ongoing basis instead of solely during the formal yearly performance evaluation
  • Use competencies for growth and development guidance, not performance

Strategic Planning

1st Place - First Guarantee Mortgage Company

Have you heard of "scraping the lot"? In Dallas that usually means, bulldozing an existing older home in a beautiful neighborhood where someone wants to build a new, updated home and live in a community with all of the charm of yesteryear.

A dirt lot, with no infrastructure and lots of charm. That is where we started building the company's learning strategy earlier this year when a new learning leader was hired to redesign-scratch that-BUILD the learning strategy, team and offerings.

Where do you start? Step 1: Figure out what the house will NEED. Using focus groups, surveys, C-Suite interviews and analyzing Level 1 data from the year prior, a multi-layer needs analysis was conducted.

Step 2: DESIGN the house. A strategic learning plan was created from the data received and approved by the CEO and executive team connecting the learning strategy to tactical deliverables.  Step 3: BUILD it! With a vision in place, deploy learning solutions that map to operational objectives using a scalable learning talent network and upgrading design & delivery tools and options for the learning team and learners. Step 4: LIVE in it. Continue offering team members fresh, on-demand learning solutions for all learning needs.

Talent Mobility

1st Place - Texas Capital Bank

Our Commercial Banking Development Program (CBDP) is a rigorous 10-month training program designed to prepare our recent college graduates to transition into a successful career in commercial banking. The hands-on curriculum is designed to provide the credit analysts with the tools, skills, technical knowledge, and professional relationships needed to build a long and successful career in the banking industry.

Throughout the 10-month CBDP program, the analysts learn from subject matter experts (SME) throughout the organization on how to analyze financial statements and to prepare credit approval packages. By the end of the program, the credit analysts are exposed to over 60 SMEs and a variety of clients, throughout all our operating regions and markets. 3. Provide a brief summary of the talent initiative, including problem, solution, target audience, and key takeaways (do not use the organization name). This is for context and will be used in the awards program for winners. Your response will not be scored so please keep your remarks brief (max 400 words).

Additionally, throughout the program, the credit analysts contribute to the business by performing annual reviews of banking clients. They also present data to the greater credit organization. Because parts of the curriculum include evaluating historical operating performance and financial conditions of clients, to, assess operational and credit risk- it is important for our analysts to get the hands-on experience throughout the program.

2nd Place - Children's Health

Over the last ten years, our organization has taken many steps to improve the recruitment and hiring of qualified new Registered Nurse (RN) graduates from Bachelor of Science (BSN) programs. The most recent work is centered around early identification of the senior level nursing students who are interested in our specialty (pediatrics) and want to live in the local area after graduation and work in our hospital. In addition, our hospital is working on tactics to ensure a quality candidate has a good match to our workgroups and is supported through their first year of practice through a residency model.

According to the “United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast” published in the January 2012 issue of the American Journal of Medical Quality, a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country between 2009 and 2030. In this state-by-state analysis, the authors forecast the RN shortage to be most intense in the South and the West.

In 2016, our team implemented a pilot program to recruit qualified senior level students who are interested in working in our hospital upon graduation. We hired 4 senior level BSN students into a program called Student Transition to Early Practice (STEP). This program provides a framework of classroom and in-hospital training, while also giving the student college credit towards graduation. Those students that meet the criteria set forth in the program were guaranteed an employee position in the next Nurse Residency. The Nurse Residency provides one calendar year of support and training while the new graduate nurse is transitioning to independent practice. Over the next 3 years (2016-2019) the STEP and Nurse Residency programs collaborated to recruit, match, and support new graduate nurse assimilation into practice and to develop increased engagement with our organization.

Retention of knowledgeable and dependable employees is a common goal for all organizations. The costs to both monetary and business goals associated with onboarding new hires to fill these roles continues to increase. When a talented employee chooses to leave the organization, the cost in time and money to replace their skill is of great concern. These strategic and effective programs assist our organization in addressing this problem.

Volunteer Awards

Volunteer Awards Name 
Dee Dick Lifetime Achievement Award Dana Devlin
Programs Mark Wolfe
Professional Development Laurie Barnett
Marketing & Communications Andraya Goodwin-Bhuyan
Membership Sally Luttrell
Southwest Learning Summit Elizabeth Bailey
AXIS Awards Rachel Harner


14070 Proton Rd. - Suite 100
Dallas, TX 75244

Email: info@tddallas.org

Phone: 972-233-9107 ex. 224

Fax: 972-490-4219

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