Workforce skills and requirements have dramatically shifted over the last few years, especially in frontline industries. The advances in technology and automation of processes have created a shift in the core set of skills needed for a job.
According to data from the World Economic Forum, 50% of all employees will require reskilling by 2025.
For instance, warehouse workers that are used to stacking packages might need to upskill and learn how to operate warehouse robots. Or, cashiers might need training in providing self-checkout assistance and working with automated tools.
But, can we efficiently teach employees these new skills using old ways of training? Not really. Traditional learning and training methods aren’t that efficient in terms of time-to-productivity and engagement. They’re long-form, clunky, and fail to keep employees’ attention.
Fortunately, today there are many learning systems, software, and mobile training tools which can enhance the employee experience in organizations in retail, manufacturing, and similar evolving industries. Let’s take a look at some key ways to improve your employee development efforts entering 2023.
1. Align skills gaps with business objectives and personal goals
Your first step should be to determine your company’s current strengths and weaknesses by doing a skills gap analysis. Without knowing your goals, even the best tool can’t help you since you won’t have a structure in your workflow.
Then, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which skills gaps do I need to fill?
- Which employees have the potential and the desire to upskill or reskill?
- What business objective am I trying to achieve?
By answering these questions, you’ll figure out the skill gaps that need fixing, the employees that are suitable to receive the training, and the positive effects or benefits of that training (achieving your business goals).
Note that the best results come when the personal career goals of an employee are aligned with the company goals.
The fourth important factor here is time. Every company goal needs to be tied to a timeline in order to measure success. So, how long do you need to upskill or reskill your employees, considering their time-to-productivity?
2. Implement internal communication tools
By having a clear internal communication structure and channels, you encourage knowledge-sharing and peer support which supports the employee learning process.
Internal communication and collaboration tools can also help you with cross-department training, allowing your employees the chance to learn a new challenging skill and get out of their comfort zone with constant support from their peers. Oftentimes, this is necessary for different teams to understand how the work they do correlates with the other teams and results in a final product or service.
- Teams or Slack for internal communication channels and departments
- Zoom for video conferencing
- ClickUp or Asana for project management
- Google Drive for document storage and access
Establish a clear set of tools for each purpose and need within your company, and don’t forget to open accounts and provide login details to every employee necessary.
If you’re dealing with a remote or deskless workforce, collaboration and communication tools aren’t a luxury but a necessity.
3. Use technology for flexible and accessible learning
Online training is a great way to design a self-service knowledge base that’s accessible at the right place and time. With the increase of deskless or remote workers, providing non-traditional ways of training that enable employees to learn on their own terms is a crucial strategy for engagement and retention.
For even better results, try implementing a mobile training solution that allows your staff to learn by consuming bite-sized pieces of information on the go. This method of microlearning has helped many companies boost their employee experience and development efforts:
- Gopuff reported a 26.2% reduction in time to productivity
- Fortum reduced training time by 97%
- Uber reduced onboarding time by 13%
- Tigo reported a 66% increase in sales in 3 months
As you can see, the benefits of accessible mobile training solutions are immense. So, instead of losing employees with unclear, chunky learning content, implement microlearning, mobile, and online training as parts of your program.
Here are some other ways you can use technology to improve employee development:
- VR coaching
- On-the-spot, in-app training
- Podcasts and video training
- Remote training (video conferencing)
- Collaboration and knowledge-sharing tools
At this point, you should also understand that each employee has a different learning style and preferred method of receiving and retaining new information.
For example, your Gen-Z and Millennial staff won’t have a problem navigating a modern, social media inspired learning platform, but more senior employees might struggle.
That’s why proper technical training should be a part of any good L&D program.
4. Implement agile contextual learning
An agile workforce designed to be flexible in adjusting to unstable market conditions also requires an agile learning solution. That’s when platforms like eduMe come in handy since they offer appropriate learning solutions based on user behavior or context.
Contextual learning is especially useful if your employees work in shifts. In additional to using scheduling software to make life easier for shift workers, you could also leverage training integrations to ensure that they always have training available.
For instance, a warehouse vehicle operator might need to jump in to enter inventory data during one shift, which is usually done by a warehouse coordinator. Implementing a seamless training platform like eduMe can give them one-tap access to the training they need on the spot. This strategy is proven to greatly boost productivity and help you reskill workers in just a fragment of the time you would normally need.
5. Invest in your staff's personal development
Today, it can be difficult to attract and retain staff during inflation, especially in fast-growing industries with high employee turnover like hospitality or construction. Often, monetary compensations alone aren’t enough to cut it. You need to nurture your employees’ personal development and mental well-being as well.
Here are some examples to help you show appreciation for your staff’s personal development:
- Invest in mindfulness and self-awareness workshops
- Provide personalized career paths and development opportunities
- Help them set personal goals in relation to professional goals and discuss ways of achieving them
- Nurture employees’ skills and potential
- Take interest in your staff’s personal problems (that might affect their performance) and show empathy by encouraging open one-on-one communication
- Celebrate personal development goals in the workplace
- Offer vouchers for the gym or another physical activity
By investing in your staff’s personal development, you show that you care about them as individuals outside of work, not just in a corporate setting. Additionally, you’ll quickly realize that self-improvement is closely connected to professional growth, which is yet another reason why you should care about your employees’ personal well-being.
6. Feedback loops and regular performance reviews
Last but not least, don’t forget to structure a way to get feedback from the employees themselves, as well as their colleagues, superiors, and clients. Doing this will help you measure the success of your training and uncover possibilities for further development.
Most feedback loops function like this:
- Gathering information about the progress and performance of the training (through surveys, one-on-one communication, customer feedback, etc.)
- Analyzing and comparing the data with a past point in time
- Informing about the need for improvement in certain areas
Feedback loops shouldn’t be a way to shame employees into doing a better job. On the contrary, if you successfully implement feedback loops, every employee in your company should feel supported and heard. They should be aware that their problems in the workplace will be heard and solved.
Technology has made it much easier to train employees at the workplace and upskill frontline workers, regardless of their physical location. This is especially important in industries like retail or manufacturing where many operations are constantly evolving and new technologies change the skill requirements very quickly.
To put all these points into practice, the best strategy is to opt for a mobile-based training platform like eduMe which integrates into your existing tools and provides one-tap access to information and training within the flow of work. With eduMe, you can use the power of microlearning to provide opportunities to upskill on the go and foster a culture of continuous learning and development, helping workers to envision a longer term future at your company.
Rob Press, Deputy
Rob is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.