2019 Optimas Award Winners for Training

By Elizabeth Loutfi

Oct. 28, 2019

The Training award recognizes organizations that developed a targeted training program that addressed a significant corporate priority and delivered measurable results. Here are the winners for 2019:

Gold: Panda Restaurant Group Inc. 

The University of Panda’s Store Leadership Training Program was a solution to a paper-based and outdated training program that did little to prevent the shrinking talent pool and increasing turnover rates of managers for the Panda Restaurant Group.

Part of the Rosemead, California-based Panda Restaurant Group Inc.’s corporate university, the University of Panda offers a series of instructor-led, video, e-learning and on-the-job training modules specific to different levels of associates at Panda’s more than 2,200 locations. The program is set up to be a road map for users to determine necessary steps for their individual career paths, with courses focusing on operation skills and leadership training, as well as the opportunity to practice running a store.

“We are honored and humbled that Workforce has recognized our University of Panda Store Leadership Training Program and the way it supports our company’s mission to inspire better lives,” said Leonard Yip, chief people officer for Panda Restaurant Group, parent company of Panda Express. “We believe the unique mix of personal and professional development courses that comprise our University of Panda curriculum encourages current and future leaders to see and realize new possibilities for themselves.”

This new training program has been in place for one year, and Panda Restaurant Group plans on maintaining it as the organization grows. Changes to the program will be made “on demand” based on feedback from training leaders, trainees and department leaders regarding its ability to meet their learning needs and expectations.

So far, Panda Restaurant Group has seen improved retention rates with internal general managers and an increase in employee satisfaction since launching the initiative.

For its efforts in strengthening its core L&D program for all its employees, the Panda Restaurant Group is the  2019 Optimas Award Gold winner in Training.

Silver: AbbVie

At AbbVie, the People Leader Quick Guides were developed to help company leaders approach and engage in meaningful conversations with their direct reports.

Conceived in October 2017, AbbVie’s talent development team began working on the initiative in April 2018 after identifying a hesitancy and lack of confidence among leadership when it came to having conversations with direct reports because they feared how the report would respond, using feedback from both the employee engagement survey and the people leader index. Data also revealed that employees wanted more transparency from their managers.

AbbVie wanted to create an initiative that would allow leaders to experience situations with positive, neutral and negative outcomes before they happen in real life, so they in turn feel more prepared and confident for whatever the outcome. The end result is a series of short videos demonstrating various scenarios — informal and formal feedback, development planning, coaching and career discussion — based on real situations.

“The People Leader Quick Guides offers insight to them in a private, self-paced manner so they can see themselves in the role and actually doing this work. The workforce management initiative was integral to the solution because it removed the mystery, mystic and myths about how to do these things,” AbbVie stated in its application.

For its efforts in leader and manager training, AbbVie is the 2019 Optimas Award Silver winner for Training.

Bronze: Tata Consultancy Services (Emerge)

For its efforts in launching Emerge, a one-day leadership development and networking program for U.S. employees that is part of it’s larger North American initiative, Inspire, Tata Consultancy Services is the 2019 Optimas Award Bronze winner for Training.

Go here to read about the rest of the Optimas winners for 2019.

Elizabeth Loutfi is an associate editor for Workforce.

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