Golden Nugget Hits the Talent Development Jackpot
How focusing on employee development put the odds in The Golden Nugget’s favor.
“We want to create an environment where everyone can learn every day. We want to battle complacency and for employees to feel challenged to be better every day,” says Charles Castonguay, Director of L&D for The Golden Nugget. Focusing on the individual growth and development of each employee in the hospitality industry is no small feat, as The Golden Nugget isn’t really just one business—it’s more like 100 businesses rolled up into one, with staff ranging from casino accountants to marine biologists.
“The challenge we were facing was that every department had their own training needs, and we were searching for a method to provide parallels among the departments, if possible. Things were siloed, and there was no shared bucket of accountability,” continued Castonguay. “We were starting down a path of mapping out job codes and critical skills for each role. But we were using a lot of nauseating spreadsheets and trying to divvy out assignments to keep people accountable.” Castonguay and team realized this process was not sustainable, so they started searching for a more approachable solution, one that would create a great development experience from day one and help increase employee retention.
The Golden Nugget’s Approach
In the hospitality industry in Las Vegas, there’s especially fierce competition for talent because so many resorts are in close proximity. According to Castonguay, “Particularly in Las Vegas, everyone knows everyone. Everyone has friends and family at different properties. When we look for talent, it’s really hard because everyone has the same talent pool. If your onboarding is complicated, that will put a sour taste in new employees’ mouths. And when an employee gets a call from another place for interviews, it’s super simple for them to just not show up for the second day or second week.”
Add to this the intense pressure to provide great experiences for guests at all times, and Castonguay and team knew they needed to find a way to create a competitive advantage for The Golden Nugget, both in terms of their customer and employee experience. “We’re relentless in the pursuit of guest satisfaction. The smoother we can make internal processes, the happier our employees will be. The happier our employees are, well, that radiates out to our guests. We believe in our process and our core values, and that’s helped us deliver particularly outstanding performance.”
For Castonguay, this pursuit of excellence led them to take an extremely employee-centric viewpoint: “Bridge Perform takes a look at our most important resource, our people, and finds ways to keep them motivated and build their personal growth journey on property.” Key to the L&D team’s approach was:
- Making continuous feedback a part of the culture: “I came from a background where you had your traditional one-and-done performance appraisal,” said Castonguay. “When I came to The Golden Nugget, we wanted to find ways to make sure that feedback and appraisal were something more than just one and done. With Perform, you can track achievements on the timeline, send out assessments, and develop virtual teams. That’s a huge win for us.” Being able to share agendas and track projects and performance on an ongoing basis contributes to the incremental development and growth of all employees, all year long.
- Focusing on what's important for employee development: “We’re trying to turn people from fire fighters to focusing on what’s important. At the beginning of the year we’ll talk about goals, and we don't want it to be this mystical business plan,” shared Castonguay. For the L&D team, having company goals that trickle down into the everyday lives of employees at all levels is imperative. “Perform challenges you to tie your projects into the overarching goals for the company and makes sure we're here for a shared purpose.”
- Having a flexible, centralized solution supported by a reachable team: “Our industry has a lot of a la carte software, so it’s nice that Bridge is all in one place,” said Castonguay. “A lot of our employees won't ever use a PC on the job. The L&D team wanted to create an environment where employees could engage with managers who could help them grow and develop in their career path. The platform is beautiful and simple, and when you call support, people actually answer. Bridge was tremendous in terms of working with us and brainstorming solutions,” said Castonguay. In addition to being able to make continuous feedback and development a digestible process for employees and managers, the Bridge Customer Success and Support teams made it so the L&D team could “sleep easy at night.”
How The Golden Nugget Measures Success
“Our main goal is to have our team grow with The Golden Nugget, but as long as they look back on their time with us and say ‘I learned a lot,’ then we can say we are really making a difference,” said Castonguay. With this in mind, the L&D team measures success in a few ways:
- Gather strategic data for HR: “We’re all about numbers on this property, especially when it comes to feedback and engagement,” reported Castonguay. “With everyone using their own individual platform, we couldn’t aggregate it.” Because Bridge is a centralized solution, Castonguay and team can focus on strategic data: “The data we’re pulling focuses on mastery and how individuals are assessed on soft skills. This helps us get profiles so if we do experience turnover, we can find a similar applicants or focus on the competencies that have been successful in the past.”
- Influencing culture change across the organization: A large challenge was getting managers on board with a continuous feedback process. Castonguay and team heard a lot of typical remarks at first, such as “We don’t have time” and “We’ve always done it this way.” “We’ve been able to find stakeholders who are hyper-engaged and then share those success stories with the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ crowd,” said Castonguay, “As you share these success stories internally, it’s fun to see their eyes light up when we share all the charts that show engagement.” By rolling it out in a strategic way, Castonguay and team have been able to influence the culture organically at The Golden Nugget towards a more employee-focused development culture.
- Impacting employee relationships and retention: “Why do people quit? Many times, it’s related to their managers,” remarked Castonguay. “In HR, it’s our responsibility to look at the reasons people quit and try to mitigate those. With Perform, we can foster relationships with managers and even with coworkers. In 1:1s, you can’t ignore questions, you have to oer feedback, and you have to focus on the person you’re talking with. Everyone who participates in a 1:1 learns how to work with and approach the people in their network. This helps managers focus on not just what’s urgent, but what’s important, like identifying opportunities for all of our people to grow and develop.”
Creating Leaders for Tomorrow’s State of Work
Corporate Training, Leadership
Keeping Pace With the Changing Nature of Government Jobs
DEW uses Bridge to offer blended learning, help employees collaborate, and train as needed on new legislation.
Government agencies globally, like other organizations, face similar challenges confronting the workforce structure and requirements of today, while preparing their employees for the future state of work. While functioning under the watchful eyes of the public, budgetary constraints often add additional complexities to the already harrowing task of ensuring regulatory nuances are consistently followed. Additionally, with numerous vendors, seasonal contractors, remote employees, changing regulations and laws - it’s not a surprise that standardizing training and development for government agencies, regardless of affiliation, is a monumental task.
Advances in technology have altered the practical ways that employees are able to complete their work and the steep increase of “non-industrial” government workers indicate a shift in government jobs toward more creative, collaborative, and complex work. With this change shift, agencies are finding themselves creating new programs and alternate learning solutions that address the of needs of the broader employee base, regardless of geographic orientation. The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) in South Australia was faced with finding a solution that would:
* Easily scale learning and development for a broad range of employees
* Efficiently train the entire workforce on new legislator changes, on an as-needed basis
* Blended options to incorporate several learning modalities
* Effectively share insight from key sources of knowledge throughout the organization
The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) has worked to conserve, sustain, and help the people of South Australia to prosper. Working across eight natural resource management regions, the Department has to sustain the learning and development for employees, vendors and contractors through every fiscal season, in every region. As legislation and regulations are updated or amended, process improvements are actualized across the Department, safety regiments are enforced and re-educated to employees and contractors; it is essential for the Talent and Development team within the People and Performance Group to ensure that all the content is not only engaging and current but accessible for remote employees, alike. “We have employees who are dispersed throughout the State including some of the most remote locations in Australia. Our corporate employees are primarily based in the capital city, we have employees who are located in our regional centres and in other parts of the State such as Ceduna, Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln etc. We needed a solution that everyone could use to help support our different learning interventions or methods,” explains Leanne Hext, Manager of Talent and Development within the People and Performance Group.
“We also wanted to be able to support our subject matter experts to deliver key modules of learning without having to facilitate long trips all around the state. This allows us to scale and extend foundational programs that are required for all employees. For example, our Procurement program is one that is required across the department but also requires our Procurement team to travel on one to two days trips across the state to deliver the training. With Bridge Learn, they can share their knowledge and we can extend those programs through multiple options and it frees up the experts’ time to dedicate to additional initiatives,” adds Leanne of how Bridge Learn has been able to help the Department command the sharing of experiential proficiency.
Additionally, employing Learn’s native in-app authoring, Leanne and her team support curating content “to enable up to date health and safety training to occur through Bridge; courses to raise the awareness of what constitutes inappropriate behaviour in the workplace; how to have effective performance review and development conversations between managers and employees; procurement and the code of ethics.”
DEW is at the forefront of adapting, and choosing to, create a flexible workforce that has the ability to adapt to the future of work because they are able to expedite learning and development, across regions without traditional roadblocks because of archaic learning management systems. Through the agility of Learn, DEW has been able to create “just in time” content that is employed cross-functionally. “We are able to provide online development options that support our face to face training programs in a much more streamlined and efficient way," explains Leanne.
The creation of a department-wide, centralized learning and development solution that allows for the sharing of relevant, contextual content provides significant benefits, including:
- The ability to apply resources when and where they are needed
- Increased knowledge flow across regions, departments and teams - from experts to frontline implementers - while maintaining alignment and focus on department-wide goals
- Creating personalized learning experiences that leverage collaborative communities to deliver “just in time”, relevant content and education through programs to build knowledge bases
- Promote a culture of continuous learning for all employees in the department irrespective of where they are located
- The ability to provide consistency of information
- The ability to provide targeted development courses for different audiences
“Bridge is a learning management solution that is easy to use, and easy to create content. It also allows us to change content when we need to, instead of having to pay external agencies to make those changes at a significant cost.”
As DEW continues to expand its use of Learn, they plan to inaugurate a more diagnostic approach to analytics, including expenditures related to training and development, as well as reviews on the return on investment. Additionally, automating the engagement of learners in optional learning through self-registration.
How DEW Measures Success
- Sustain broad learning options - The Organisational Development team at the Department for Environment and Water supports a largely geographically dispersed employees who need access to learning and development options. In order to sustain learning paths for their broad set of needs, DEW recognized that implementing a flexible, scalable solution would help motivate and manage employee development in a distributed environment, which emphasis communication, accountability, trust, and performance.
- This will be measured through the uptake of the development courses, particularly in the regional sites.
- Additionally, this will be measured through a review of the current vs new expenditure on learning and development in DEW.
- Connecting knowledge: DEW understands the critical role that knowledge management plays within a sustainable growth plan and as such, they have committed making knowledge gained in one area readily available throughout the rest of the department. Through efficient tagging, cross-functional promotion of relevant, applicable content, and social learning DEW has created a roadmap for a productive culture of learning.
- This will be measured through the review of the areas within the Department who have developed courses pertinent to their area of expertise
To learn more about how South Australia’s Department for Environment and Water is preparing tomorrow’s government employees to respond with technology-first, impactful learning and development with Bridge Learn, contact us at [email protected] or 877.576.5364.
Creating a Roadmap for Future Leaders
GE offers leadership training to its high-potential team members—and helps them retain what they learn.
Not all employees are destined to be managers. Not all managers are destined to be executives. Read any report on workforce trends in the past couple of years and the disappointing yet accurate statistic reflecting the exodus of talented employees who departed for “greener pastures” at other organizations because their leadership was not equipped to lead them is staggering. Yet, organizations who understand the inherent benefits of proactively identifying and engaging high potential leadership talent early and often are able to retain top talent, engage and inspire others, and sustain relevance for generations. However, this exercise demands a tremendous amount of resources from the company, the employee, their managers and supporting stakeholders. A leading factor of why leadership programs often fail is the intensity in retention and learning curve required of adult learning engagement. Because of this, innovative companies have to approach these programs with a different level of refinement. Practiced experiential learning can be remarkably helpful — more so than cost-prohibitive in-person lectures, seminars and demonstrations.
GE, a titan and innovator in many regards, needed a way to better leverage the learning they imparted to their middle manager appointees within their Accelerated Leadership Program (XLP). Designed to build GE’s next group of global senior professional and executive leaders who can continue to carve out new paths for GE, the XLP program is essential for the development of core leadership and functional capabilities. XLP graduates are known to be results-driven, committed, self-aware, connected, and exude inspiration to those around them. Along with the support of internal change leaders, relevant tools, and supporting processes, Amy Speranza, Global Learning Leader for GE’s Career Accelerator Programs found it necessary to introduce sustainable capabilities for XLP that would further permeate throughout the broader organization. Speranza looked for a solution that would:
* Reinforce skills and retention of information by scaling social learning.
* Facilitate feedback to drive capability mastery.
* Increase confidence of XLP participants through contextual, timely feedback.
* Drive impactful behavior change as participants graduated to higher levels of engagement
A recent study regarding information retention found that in a period of three months there was a significant variance in how people retained information — simply based on how they consumed the details. For example, after an oral presentation, people retained only 10 percent of the small, simple chunks of information they had been taught; 32 percent of the information was retained when the teaching method used was visual; and 65 percent when people actually learned the same information by doing what they were learning about. This lends to the case that learning is much more effective when the learner is practicing what they are learning.
GE’s XLP not only provides valuable insight into the investment that the organization places on its high potential employees but it can also be seen as an inspiration for other potential, upcoming hidden leaders. Programs like the XLP not only provide an opportunity for the organization to “harvest” the best talent of the organization. Once that talent has been uncovered, leaders like Amy Speranza, Global Learning Leader for GE’s Career Accelerator Programs, want to ensure that the infrastructure, content, curriculum, resources and guidance is sustainable. GE’s XLP was meticulously designed to include individual development plans to target breakthrough learning experiences by challenging stretch, high-profile assignments with ongoing coaching, mentoring, and networking.
The two to four-year program currently spans nine functions across businesses and regions and includes anywhere from 250-400 participants. Although external experts may help support XLP from time to time, internal stakeholders help to accelerate the growth of the participants’ leadership roles by broadening their capacity, competency, leadership skill set, and domain skills. However, as XLP gained momentum and acceptance, as with any program of its magnitude, Speranza and other cohorts found that the associated costs, particularly the expense of flying all participants in for the XLP kick-off seminar, were quickly becoming a roadblock for long-term adoption and expansion. Furthermore, as a global leader, Speranza found that the wealth, depth, and wide-ranging set of information provided to participants during their initial on-site seminars were rarely as well retained as she would have hoped. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated circumstance applicable to GE. It’s a commonplace quandary felt by many organizations. Speranza and her team knew she had to solve this while the XLP was in its infancy.
The XLP focuses on many aspects of training the mid-career leadership talent, including:
- Global Leadership designed to develop a strong team, ability to lead change and communicate effectively, while thinking and planning strategically
- Business Acumen focusing on making sound financial decisions, understanding GE’s portfolio while understanding the nuances in anticipating and managing risks
- Commercial Excellence through market knowledge, understanding customers, forming outcome solutions and upskilling on negotiating skills
- Digital Innovation which includes supporting the digital thread, embracing technologies, leveraging data antics to help think systematically
- Operations competencies by utilizing Lean, Six Sigma, Fastworks, optimizing total lifecycle fulfillent in managing projects
“XLP has the ability and appetite to try new things because they are usually first in learning or trying new ideas and concepts in the company — due to the nature of their engagement. Once it’s been tried and tested in XLP, it’s usually broadly accepted through the rest of the organization. Plus, they are a willing audience so it makes it easier to try new ideas and approaches with that group. When Practice was introduced to the group, it was much easier to help them understand the varying range of benefits we would immediately receive,” said Speranza about how Practice was initially introduced to XLP.
Although some participants apply to the XLP, for the most part XLP participants are nominated. Not all participants run the course of the four-year program as it is designed to expose participants to all functional areas. The first year lays the foundation, followed by the second year building on individual capability gaps. Following an executive review, some participants graduate from the program. Those who continue are provided with more of an immersive leadership experience with multiple core competencies. “Years 3 and 4 look very different than the first couple of years, regardless of where the participants are in their journey, Practice plays an integral part. It’s so easy to use. The simplicity of it. Anyone can use it and there is rarely a complication to it that there is with other tools. We were using another solution prior to Practice and I was up half the night fielding support and technical calls trying to get it work. But with Practice, people knew what they had to do, they did it and we got what we needed,” Speranza said of the streamlined processes of deploying and receiving feedback and assessments from cohorts.
How GE Measures Success
Retention and reinforcement of key concepts - Spending budget for any organization is a monumental feat: it’s hard-earned revenue. Given today’s fluctuating economy, being economical with every cent is crucial, even for organizations like GE, especially when it comes to investing in a company’s greatest resource: its employees. “We had our XLP participants come all the way to Atlanta. We were creating all this content and pushing it out to them. And it was a struggle to keep the momentum, the follow-up energy, to keep the learning going once they went back home. We were spending millions of dollars of these courses, flying people in, engaging in these amazing sessions and yet we were losing all this learning. Practice is used as a support vehicle to support our virtual seminars. Cross functional teams see the benefit and they are leveraging the Practice in creative ways, which speaks to the flexibility of the platform.”
Fluid, continuous learning - “An important aspect about XLP is the coaching that participants have access to throughout the organization. They are coached at the executive level, and for each assignment and project they are given access to leaders they wouldn’t normally have had access to otherwise. For example, one of the exercises we run through Practice is an elevator pitch where the scenario is being stuck in an elevator with the GE CEO for two minutes and you have to explain what your role is on XLP and how you add value to the company. Then the facilitators provide feedback. This is an opportunity to practice and receive feedback from other executives,” said Speranza about the added benefit of receiving contextual related to performance.
Motivated learning - Practice has empowered Speranza and her team to further leverage the solution in other channels. “Due to the intricacies and nature of our business, because we are so expansive and massive, there are so many ways to leverage Practice. Plus the Practice team has been so easy to work with, so accommodating and helpful. Coming back to us immediately with answers, the level of responsiveness, overall engagement, positive outlook, creative problem solving, engaging us in the client advisory board, inviting us to present at the user conference — it’s very much a partnership. Regarding the solution itself, Practice is not trying to be all things to all people. It’s very simple, straightforward. It’s an offering that executed extremely well,” said Speranza about working with the Practice team and the overall benefit of the solution.