Yes, you can fit training into your frontline employees’ daily workflow

Every minute of time is valuable on the frontline. And you need your workforce to operate at peak performance during every shift. However, it can be difficult to optimize the balance between job training and day-to-day operational activities, especially given new challenges the frontline faces today.

frontline worker doing the inventory at a supermarket

You may think frontline employees don’t have enough time for training. Or, that it’s not worth taking them away from their daily responsibilities. But that’s not the case. Traditionally, employees are pulled into hours-long training sessions every few months and expected to remember and apply that information when they return to work. Unfortunately, this approach doesn’t align with the way people learn. A more effective form of training can be delivered in just three to five minutes a day, fitting seamlessly into the daily workflow. In a recent episode of The 80 Percent podcast, JD Dillon dives deeper into this approach to frontline training. Here are some of JD’s top tips for spending your employees’ time wisely on the frontline:

See why a few minutes of daily reinforcement is all you need to make learning stick.

1. Eliminate the firehose

One-and-done training sessions may seem appealing, but they don’t work long term. Employees have a hard time staying engaged for long periods of time, they don’t remember the information later on and their performance is largely unaffected. And if the one-and-done approach doesn’t produce results, your training and development resources—which are critical to frontline performance—might be depleted. Rather than taking the firehose approach, make better use of your time and resources by delivering training in short bursts over time. Continuous reinforcement helps your employees recall key information long term and is proven to directly impact on-the-job performance. With the right delivery method, job training provides major benefits—it shows employees they are valued, prepares them to take on more responsibility and gives them the tools to deliver an elevated customer experience.

2. Consider the day-to-day realities of your frontline

A grocery store clerk, retail associate and forklift operator experience very different realities in their day-to-day work. Consider the following as you prepare your frontline training program:

  • Where do your frontline employees do most of their work? Do they work near a cash register, in an inventory facility or are they on the move? This will inform how you deliver training—on the floor, in the backroom, at a designated kiosk, etc.
  • What technologies do they use? Do they have access to a POS machine, a computer in the backroom or a mobile device? Leverage accessible technology as a channel to deliver training.
  • Where are the natural stopping points in their workflow? Downtime on the job presents the perfect opportunity for training activities, especially when leveraging microlearning.

3. Get creative

Use what you’ve learned to develop a training plan that fits your employees’ unique needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, so get creative. A grocery store clerk working at the deli counter might complete training using a stationed tablet between customer interactions. A retail associate may do so on a company-sanctioned mobile device during lulls in store traffic. A forklift operator could fit their training in as they charge the lift battery mid-shift. The truth is, everyone has five free minutes in the day. Training teams can use microlearning to take advantage of these moments without having to pull employees away from their daily activities to the extent traditional training would. You may need to leverage longer training sessions once in a while, but only when it’s the right solution for more complex problems. 

Everyone has time for training, the challenge is finding out how and when it really fits. And figuring out how training “fits” isn’t just about timing—it’s also about how people actually learn best— piece by piece, over a period of time.

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