Creating the ‘Why at the Y’
Created as a response to unhealthy and unequal social conditions, the YMCA has been supporting families and young people around the world since 1844, believing that ‘the better you belongs here’.
Attensi is thrilled to have partnered with the team at South Shore YMCA in Massachusetts to help keep this vision a reality.
Alexandra Mason (HR and training director), Paul Gorman (President and CEO of South Shore YMCA), Liam McSweeney (Director of the Before and Afterschool Program), Julian (Group Leader for the Afterschool Program) and Group Leaders Derrian and Delena tell us all about their experience of game based training.
What did training look like before Attensi?
Both Alexandra and Paul explain that because the services at the YMCA are so varied, it can be difficult to really nail training at an organization-wide level. From childcare to fitness and partnership programs, there’s a lot to cover. And trying to bring a 500-strong workforce together in one place to deliver the training is a challenge in and of itself.
Then there was the training. Historically, it’s been more traditional methods – PDFs, a bit of computer training or face to face sessions. But Alexandra shares that she understands that only around 30% of that information is taken in at the time, so the amount of information retained is dramatically smaller.
From what the team leaders tell us, there was certainly some truth to this. Giving your full attention to a long video and then retaining all that information to answer questions at the end was proving challenging.
Paul explains that as an organization, they don’t want training to turn into a tick box exercise. They needed to find a way of ensuring training exercises had been completed and were being applied to staff’s day-to-day roles.
‘Why at the Y’ is born
It may be a historical organization, but that didn’t mean that the learning and development had to remain in the dark ages. Alexandra and Paul decided it was time to offer modern, game-based training to their young workforce. And so they teamed up with Attensi to create ‘Why at the Y’.
We asked why Attensi training has been such a good fit:
Learning is interactive
It really speaks to young people – they’re used to being on their devices and playing games
Can continuously update modules depending on the needs of the organziation and team members
Modules are easy to adapt to the organization
Everyone can put forward ideas for content and materials
Learning is bitesize – challenging but achievable
Has had a real impact on culture and behavior
Can measure the success – have people understood the training? Was the training relevant to their role? How many times have they repeated the training in order to improve their score?
Improved delivery time and content management
As director HR and training, Alexandra needed to be sure this would mean faster, more efficient delivery time, and content needed to be managed easily within the YMCA.
‘I’m not a coder so I didn’t know what I was getting into, but anyone can do it.’ Alexandra says about her experience of CREATOR.
‘Possibilities are infinite in the platform – it’s user friendly and the training to use CREATOR was really fun and addictive.’
Paul says, ‘The difference with gamed based training is it’s very interactive. It’s very immediate – you can get content out there very quickly. Traditional training can take 10 times longer to get content out there. If it’s important, you can say ‘you have 2 weeks to get this done’, and boom.’
The stage was set. Time to put ‘Why at the Y’ into action. We asked the team leaders what their first impressions of the Attensi game-based training were.
Derrian and Delena tell us that previously, there had been some problems with accessibility. You almost always needed a laptop or computer to complete training. Now, you can complete your training flexibly from your phone.
All three team leaders were very happy to see the leaderboard feature as part of their new training. Motivation to complete the training went up significantly. And all three confess that they repeated the training multiple times in order to beat their coworkers. But in the process, they all learnt a lot more than they would have done historically.
Julian explains how he likes that the app gives you feedback in real time. If you get an answer wrong, you know about it straight away, making it a lot easier to understand where your knowledge gaps are. You then know exactly where you need to focus.
A safe space to get things wrong
For the young workforce, they were all pleased to see that ‘Why at the Y’ offered them a safe space to make mistakes, learn from them and correct them the next time. The self-paced, repetitive bitesized learning was a departure from the lengthy videos they had been used to in the past.
‘It feels good to know you can go wrong and just try again.’
Building organization-wide community
For Lee, Alexandra and Paul, they couldn’t be happier with the response from the team, particularly how the organization-wide game play has helped team members from different departments feel a sense of connection with one another.
‘The fun component makes such a difference. It builds community in work – people who have never met will end up on the same leaderboard.’
‘Attensi is the connection to our staff. The portal drives connection between departments and brings the organization together.’
A bright future at the YMCA
Paul’s vision of measuring the success of training has come to life since bringing in Attensi.
The numbers really do speak for themselves.
Over 20,000 playthroughs.
An average of 6 repetitions per person.
Over 90% recommend Attensi training.
Outside the results, the YMCA team have enjoyed their collaboration with Attensi. The diversity of thought and capability of both organziations complement each other well.
‘It was the best experience I’ve had working with a different company and a company that didn’t know the YMCA.’
‘Compared to traditional training, this is above and beyond.’