Will Tedrow

Human Resources Director, Youth Dynamic

Supernova Award Category: 

Future of Work: Human Capital Management

The Organization: 

Youth Dynamics is a mental health agency that expanded from a small foster care organization 40 years ago to over 30 locations today. We provide evidence-based mental health services for children with behavioral challenges, while also offering support and resources to their families. We offer a range of services, including child and family therapy, independent living skills, substance abuse treatment, equine-assisted therapy, and therapeutic group homes for 4,000 youth spread across the U.S. state of Montana. Today, Youth Dynamics is the largest children’s mental health provider in Montana, with 31 locations across the state that serve communities within 60 miles of an office. 

The Problem: 

With over 600 employees spread across 30+ locations, and plans for continued growth and frequent turnover, our HR and People team faced a number of difficulties aligning and engaging our distributed workforce. These obstacles were further complicated by inconsistent, manual HR processes spread across separate tools and spreadsheets. Our legacy People-Trak HRIS software couldn’t integrate with other tools and involved tedious data entry, sometimes requiring triple or even quadruple entry. Meanwhile, our learning system was falling apart and it led us to think about how we might better integrate our systems together to operate more effectively. 

For example, we hire between 300-500 people for our mentorship program alone, a process that has always required incredible amounts of tedious work. Previously, we would have to manually enter a job listing into our old system, then post it to different job boards one-by-one, and it was difficult to track information about applicants. Once someone did apply, it would take us 15 minutes to enter their application into our system and then email the hiring manager a PDF to review. It was not a sustainable system for operating and scaling our organization.

The Solution: 

We needed a more robust approach that would streamline time-consuming tasks like applicant tracking and connect the information we currently had siloed in disparate systems. We were also examining what the future of HR looks like and how people analytics could help us incorporate insights and analytics into data-driven decisions. Finally, we wanted a solution that would help us better engage our workforce to mitigate turnover. 

After evaluating a number of tools, we ultimately decided that Sage People’s workforce experience interface was the best solution. In preparation to migrate to the new system, we scrubbed our employee data, defined new HR processes, and configured Sage People to our unique requirements. In addition, we integrated it with other tools for applicant tracking, timekeeping, payroll, and benefits. Following our implementation, we established end-to-end workflows tailored to our unique needs, which made life drastically easier for the entire organization.

The Results: 

The solution transformed our previously manual hiring processes. Now, all applicant data is embedded, tracked and automated within our new workforce experience portal. We’ve streamlined benefits-related tasks through Sage People’s seamless integration with our insurance carrier, Allegiance. Sage People has also freed managers from cumbersome paper-based processes, with employee performance data tracked right in the system, rather than in Excel spreadsheets. Built-in online forms for performance reviews and talent development help managers easily document and maintain continuous conversations with their direct reports. 

Easy-to-use pulse surveys, peer recognition, and the ability to quickly and digitally send updates makes employee communication simple. Our integrated recognition platform, Bonusly, helps us track communication patterns, social engagement, and the impact of recognition on performance outcomes. Sage People and Bonusly together help us foster a culture of recognition, by making it easy for managers and co-workers to provide real-time feedback and praise great work in a visible forum.

Our HR assistants, payroll team, and staff development specialists have more time to focus on strategic work, rather than being tied up in data entry. Now, they focus their energy on training, improving the connection and relationship between HR and their team of distributed managers, and being a guiding resource for our staff.


With Sage People powering our hiring processes, we have accelerated hiring decisions by 66% and save 750 hours/year that can be better spent on more strategic work. These improvements have been especially key given the scale of hiring we do each year, since our industry is prone to turnover. Engagement with current employees has also improved with detailed insight and regular manager communications, helping unemployment costs plummet 90% and saving $95,000 that can be reinvested into the organization to better serve families. 

An important goal for our team when making the move to a more modern system was having the ability to uncover insights and data about our workforce to improve the employee experience and deepen engagement. With Sage People’s reporting, we’ve sped time-to-insight for HR data review by 75% and increased participation in our employee engagement survey by 137%. 

We believe our increase in professional quality of life, among other initiatives, helped us decrease turnover by 40% in this time frame. Through Sage People, we conduct a professional assessment that measures role satisfaction and burnout, and then correlates scores with performance outcomes and engagement survey results. By analyzing this data set with Sage People, we’ve been able to identify interventions like skill development or increased supervisor support.

The Technology: 
  • Sage People, including the core HR system, along with the system’s workforce experience, performance management, and HR and people analytics modules
  • Sage People also shares data or integrations with:
    • Broadbean for recruitment
    • Sage Time for time-tracking 
    • Bonusly for employee recognition
    • Talent LMS for learning
    • Microsoft Dynamics GP for accounting
Disruptive Factor: 

Our project to completely overhaul our HRIS was game-changing because of how it has connected our organization in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined. Now that we can more closely monitor important trends like employee engagement and performance metrics with Sage People, our HR team can more easily predict retention patterns. We now have the ability to drill into specific locations to better understand employee engagement and morale -- and make adjustments and pivots where necessary. 

The system has also been critical to operations during the disruptions of COVID-19. With a third of employees working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sage People became our employees’ lifeline. Many workers are not on our corporate network and therefore are unable to access our Microsoft SharePoint intranet. Thankfully, they do have simple, easy access to their Sage People portal, which delivers critical employee communications about policy changes and updates related to the current health crisis. Since we’re a mental health provider, we pride ourselves on being trauma-informed, so we also have a resource section in Sage People for self-care, where our employees can go for ideas to help energize them and get them through a rough week.

Shining Moment: 

Most important and central to our mission at Youth Dynamics is our ability to adequately serve the children and families who come to us needing help. With Sage People’s robust capabilities, our HR and People team have seen significant cost savings across the organization -- money that can instead be diverted to mission-driven programs that will directly impact the communities we work with.

About Youth Dynamic

Youth Dynamics is a Montana-based non-profit children’s mental health agency that welcomes families going through difficult times. Providing evidence-based treatment, our staff help families grow with 31 locations across Montana. Our goal is to provide mental health treatment for children or teens with behavioral challenges and offer support and resources to their families.