Going Virtual: Meeting the needs of our clients in an age of digital transformation

In 2016, one of our largest global clients, UnitedHealth Group, asked us to deliver our classroom training for them using virtual delivery. We were initially hesitant. We didn’t have any previous experience with virtual training, and, wanted to make sure we could provide the same impactful learning experience as we had in the classroom for the past 17 years. 

UnitedHealth Group, a diversified health care company with over 270,000 employees, and $200 billion in revenue, had delivered our Emotional Intelligence program to their most senior leaders for over 12 years.

According to Brenda Polis, Senior Management Consultant, Enterprise Talent Development at UnitedHealth Group, “Emotional Intelligence exploded when we brought it to the next level of leaders down. They had seen their senior leader’s behavior change (as a result of the program) and felt a shift in their culture. As a result, they wanted to learn more.” Now they wanted to expand the reach of the training in a scalable manner.

Going Virtual – is it only about reducing costs?

Reducing the cost to deliver to a larger number of people was the primary reason that UHG wanted our Science of Emotional Intelligence training in a virtual format.  They had experience delivering similar training virtually, and they knew it could provide an impactful learning experience. 

In addition to the reduced cost of learning, there were other reasons to find a digital solution:

  • Learner accessibility – Virtual Live Facilitation meant that there was greater access to the training for everyone, regardless of geography.
  • Interactive, and impactful learning experiences – Classroom training is highly impactful, but often it’s difficult to get people to engage in reinforcement activities afterward.  With virtual learning, we’ve taken one and two-day training programs and created multiple modules, which can be spread over days or weeks to create a more sustained learning program, which helps drive real behavior change.
  • Scalability and flexibility – It is challenging to scale learning when delivery puts a high demand on resources. All the activities from booking classrooms, arranging travel, finding a time that is convenient to get the team in one place, can be very cumbersome and time consuming.  A virtually facilitated approach means there are less coordinated activities, and the learners can choose from program times that are more flexible within their work schedule.
  • Global Access – Our clients are global, and their teams are spread across the world.  Delivering only local classroom training means the global regions are all in their own separate programs.  Delivering virtually facilitated training is a great way to get cross-functional teams working together in order to build relationships, develop trust and improve collaboration. 

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The results

Although we had our doubts, at first, about virtual training, UHG was confident that the experience would be positive for their learners, and they had expertise in virtual training that we could leverage.  By the end of 2016, we were excited to engage in a partnership with UnitedHealth Group to develop our virtual offerings.

As a partner in the project, we needed to expand our expertise in digital learning as we did not want to rely solely on UHG for the technical expertise.  This meant bringing in external experts, hiring different skill sets, and building a culture of continuous learning…essentially, because we were preparing for our own digital transformation.

The program was launched successfully in 2017. Brenda from UHG shares their experience:  “Since the roll-out of the Virtual Emotional Intelligence program in 2017, the response from UnitedHealth Group participants has been extremely positive.  In addition to the obvious benefit of eliminating the time and cost of travelling, having virtual learning provides the opportunity to create a sustained learning program over a period of weeks.”

“People are loving virtual learning and find it very engaging.  We are seeing that the material is living beyond the classroom (ok, computer screen), and people are putting the strategies into practice.  At the end of the day, that’s what learning is about: helping people change their behavior so they can become better leaders – regardless of their role in their organization.  By offering the Emotional Intelligence training to a larger group of our global leaders, we know we can have an even greater impact on our culture and ultimately, our performance”, concluded Brenda.

Leveraging both certification (having their trainers deliver our programs) and virtual offerings, has allowed UHG to reach more than 5,000 people globally with our Emotional Intelligence training.   They have trained at all levels – from leaders and managers to nurses and front-line staff. 

We are fortunate to have clients passionate about the impact of our learning programs and who were willing to partner with us in developing our initial virtual solutions.  Now that we have gone through our digital transformation, we will continue to work as a partner and lead them into whole new ways of creating powerful learning experiences while leveraging new technologies. 

To learn more…

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To read more about IHHP’s transformation process, click here.

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