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4 Reasons to Send Employee Training via SMS


Do you use your phone in the workplace? 

If we had to guess, we’d say you probably do: 70% of employees keep their phones within eyeshot at work.

Many employers see cell phones as the main culprit for interruptions and distractions during working hours - but is this the full story, or an accurate picture?  

If we look at the use of cellphones for work, the numbers tell a different story. By using cell phones for work-related activities, employees can get back 240 hours a year. 68% of organizations see an increase in productivity after switching to a ‘bring your own device’ policy. And 53% see increased employee satisfaction. 

Smartphones aren’t going anywhere - over 95% of Americans aged 18-49 own one. Businesses that not only accept, but strategically leverage employees’ organic engagement with these devices are the ones that will come out on top. 

Take delivering employee training via SMS, for example. Done correctly, it’s a cost-effective way of integrating learning into work for every employee and boosting productivity and efficiency as a result.

Intrigued? Keep reading, and you’ll find out:

Ready? Let’s dive in. 

"Why would I want an employee using their phone on the clock?"

Good question. The answer? It depends on what your workforce looks like. 

If 100% of your employees are desk-based - whether that’s in an office, or at home - you can rely on typical methods of employee communication like email or Slack, and train new hires and current employees using a desktop-based LMS. It doesn’t mean you should discount using cell phones entirely, but your need for them may be less pressing. 

If your workforce is distributed, though, mobile phones become more of an asset. Frontline workers - the people that work on shop floors and in hospitality, delivery drivers, construction workers, and so on - make up 80% of the global workforce today. 

They may not have access to a desktop computer, or even a company email address. 

What they will have access to is a mobile phone - which makes the devices the obvious tool to use when it comes to employee communications, onboarding new employees and training.  

A quick note: accessibility is important, but it’s not the only benefit of delivering employee training through SMS. It’s also a more advanced way of delivering training that enables workers to integrate learning and working. Let’s take an example. 

If a phone GPS indicates an employee is on site, they could be sent an automated SMS with this week’s special promotions or offers, rather than coming by this information by chance, or too late. It’s an approach that’s more efficient, more impactful and more productive. 

Let’s find out more. 

Why you should send employee training via SMS

1. Integrates into the flow of learning

Learning in the flow of work refers to a state where workers learn as they work, rather than taking time out to complete training. 

The more invisible the transition and embedded into workflows, the better. It allows the worker to continue what they’re doing without distractions - a barrier can cause productivity to drop by almost 40% - and makes sure that the quality of workplace technology mirrors what they consume outside of work. 

By sending training via SMS, you’re sending training to where your workers are at in real-time - and enabling them to learn without taking time out to access a different device or search for the right information. 

2. Closes the intention-action gap

The intention-action gap occurs when what we intend to do doesn’t line up with what we actually end up doing. 

Take an example: a worker spends the morning at HQ undertaking training. They learn a new, more efficient way of using a hand truck. They realize the benefit of this method of use, and plan to implement it, but by the time they return to site, they can’t quite visualize how to do it in the way that was demonstrated.  They go back to using the hand truck the way they know how.

Deliver training by SMS, and you’re shortening the gap between the worker learning something new, intending to use it, and then actually getting the opportunity to do so. Send them an SMS with a link to training they can re-consult at any time, and they’ll always have the training they need to hand. Plus, they’ll be more likely to review it thanks to the SMS interface - accessing texts is quick and easy, and from there it’s one click to access training. No password required.

The more accessible knowledge is, the smaller the action-intention gap becomes.   

3. Reaches your entire workforce

With 95% having access to a mobile device, delivering training via SMS is a surefire way to democratize training access, and truly reach as many members of your workforce as possible, in one go.  

Choosing the right channel or channels for training delivery will depend on how your workforce looks and operates. For example - you might have a mixture of desk-based and frontline employees. But, if you only provide a desktop-based LMS for training, you are isolating half of your workforce and guaranteeing they are kept in the dark informationally. Surprisingly, this is quite a common situation - 83% of frontline workers are given desktop devices despite not having access to a desk.    

The beauty of SMS is that it is both industry and operation-agnostic - it can work for everyone, regardless of whether they are working on a construction site, or in an office.  

4. Cost-effective

SMS can be a cost-effective method of delivery. Message services are inexpensive, and if your company has a bring-your-own-device policy it can save $341 per employee. 

SMS is also brand and device-agnostic. Everyone has a phone number, and whether it’s attached to an iPhone, an Android or an older mobile device, SMS is still going to work on a scale that email or your LMS can’t, at comparatively little cost. 

When you business might use SMS training

Your business would benefit from using SMS training if: 

  • Your frontline workforce doesn’t have access to any other tech: this could be a desktop computer, a company app or a third-party tool like Workday. 
  • Your training completion rates are low: a small proportion of your workforce is making it through training - or accessing it in the first place. In this instance, SMS is a fairly safe bet when it comes to increasing open rates, click-throughs to training, and therefore completion, as it meets your workers where they’re at.  
  • You want to increase access points for your workforce: here’s the thing - the more ways you give your workforce access to your training, the more of them are going to engage with it. You should approach your workforce training from a mindset of continuous improvement - and that means staying ahead of the curve with new channels and methods of access. 

The impact of using text messages to send employee training

So far, we’ve explored the theory behind sending employee training via SMS - now, let’s look at how this training delivery channel has served two real-life companies. 

McCoy's building supply: training completion rates of 95%

McCoy’s Building Supply is a US retailer selling lumber, building supplies and farm and ranch equipment with 86 stores and a 3,500 strong workforce spanning 3 states.

McCoy’s adopted Workday Learning to train their workers, and, with the aim of improving training engagement, wanted to introduce a multi-channel distribution strategy. The team chose SMS messages as they knew their drivers would check notifications - wherever they were. Jason Trail, Training and Development Manager at McCoy’s Building Supply, explains that:

“We struggle with communication. So the ability to send a text message directly to the employee has been a big improvement.” 

It’s worth noting that McCoy’s introduced SMS alongside other communication channels such as printed-out scannable QR codes to support contextual in-the-moment learning needs (like using a piece of machinery, for example). 

The takeaway? The more channels you can introduce, the more likely your workers are to complete the training: in McCoy’s case, a huge 95% of workers did thanks to the new approach. 

Temco logistics: A 96% injury reduction and $600k saved

Temco Logistics is a premier home goods delivery and installations provider, fulfilling deliveries for retailers like The Home Depot. The business grew to thousands of workers across over 40 US States - and needed to deliver training to every single one to keep them efficient, safe, and providing a high standard of customer service. 

Similarly to McCoy’s Temco isolated SMS training as a new distribution method to try, chosen as the business knew its drivers and technicians who spent their day out on the road or installing equipment in customers’ homes, only had personal mobile devices to hand. 

Employees were sent an SMS with a link, which dropped them straight into lessons – or to a personalized library of training material to revisit – when clicked. Just like McCoy’s, the business combined this internal communications method with contextual QR codes to maximize engagement. As Temco’s Director of L&D, Dan Drenk put it: 

“The more ways we can put training in front of people, the more it crystallizes it in our larger company culture.” 

Results included a 96% reduction in injury rate and a 30% reduction in auto accident rates - which is the equivalent of $600,000 saved for the business. 

Sending employee training via SMS: final thoughts

To be successful today, employee training needs to be accessed in a way that’s as equitable, wide-reaching, quick, and as easy as possible. Distribute it via SMS, and you’re utilizing a channel that nearly all (if not all) of your employees already use in and out of work. 

SMS is a vital part of the training distribution puzzle - take advantage and you’ll have a more productive, efficient and safe frontline, wherever they are in the world. 

Want to learn more about what delivery methods might best suit your frontline workforce? Find out more about McCoy’s Building Supply and Temco Logistics’ chosen frontline training provider – eduMe (that’s us!) in a quick product walkthrough video, or get in touch with the team for an obligation-free consultation