When it comes to supporting frontline employees with the training and communication they need to do their job, more isn’t necessarily better. It’s all about the right support.
That message was loud and clear in our recent state of frontline training report, where we surveyed 2,000 frontline employees working in retail, grocery, contact centers and professional sales.
But how exactly do frontline employees define the right support? In short, they’re looking for training and communication that complements—not competes with— the unique ways they work.
What makes the frontline workforce unique?
Frontline employees are usually in the field or on the floor. They include grocery store clerks, retail store associates, contact center agents and distribution workers to name a few. Although they aren’t corporate workers making strategic decisions, they are essential to ensuring any strategy you implement is a success.
But, as essential as they are, they’re often provided with training and communication that doesn’t fit with the nature of their work. They’re busy. They can’t step away from the floor to complete critical training. They don’t have access to corporate email so they rely on updates through store huddles. And, performance supports are often tucked away in a binder that’s tough to access in the moment of need.
What kind of support do frontline employees actually want?
The good news is the frontline employees we surveyed provided lots of insightful feedback on how they’d like to be supported. Here’s what they shared.
1: Timely, relevant messages matter
It’s critical to keep frontline employees up to speed so they’re in the loop on important changes they need to make on the job. Whether that’s a new cleaning procedure, instructions on how to use new touchless payment devices or changes to customer service policies. Even though frontline workers underscored the importance of timely, relevant, reliable communications, only 40% said they’d actually received it from their employers.
2: On-demand resources are critical to fill in knowledge gaps on the fly
Simply communicating changes to frontline employees won’t be enough for them to remember all the things that they need to do to perform in a rapidly changing environment. Especially when you consider the rise in the number of messages they’re likely receiving during the pandemic. But, less than 3 in 10 frontline employees said they could access a resource on demand after they heard about a new change.Keeping the most important updates, job aids and resources they need to reference at their fingertips can go a long way to keeping your frontline supported and engaged.
3: Roles have changed—training should too
Operational agility has never been more important for business survival. Companies have relied on their frontline to take on new roles and tasks. Almost half of frontline employees we surveyed had taken on new tasks as a result of the pandemic, and 23% had filled a new position altogether. Yet, 52% weren’t provided with training they needed to take on these new responsibilities. Blending the right mix of short training modules and on-the-job practice gives every employee the confidence and knowledge they need to conquer a new role.
4: More video please
One of the biggest takeaways from our findings was that frontline employees are hungry to learn more. They’re looking for additional training opportunities to help them do their job effectively. Nearly half would like to receive more online training—including video, interactive modules and practice questions. But, only 40% of employees actually get any form of ongoing training. Moving past one-and-done training sessions is critical to ensuring that employees get a chance to practice their new skills, so they can help their organization succeed.
5: Personal smartphones can be an on-the-job ally
The pandemic is changing the way employees access training on the frontline. Shared devices can carry additional health and safety risk. Which may be why 84% of frontline employees said they’d like to access messages and training from their personal device. Keeping all of the things they need to be productive in their pocket definitely has some advantages. They can disinfect it on their own. And, it’s always with them. So they don’t need to leave the floor to find a job aid or get an update.
All of this is great. But now what?
It’s clear that frontline employees are hungry to learn more. They want to stay connected to important messages from their employer. And they want the tools to help them sharpen their skills so they can pitch in however they can to help their business succeed. But, sifting through 800+ solutions on the market makes it feel impossible to find just the right solution for your organization.
So, we’ve built a guide to get you started on the right foot. We’ve taken the insights frontline employees have shared with us and created a guide to help you navigate the crowded learning tech landscape with their needs in mind.