No One Left Behind: Driving Performance within a Deskless Workforce
If there is one thing we’ve learned, it is that a single decision by an employee can make a huge impact on the organization (positive or negative). In this week’s webinar, our Principal Learning Strategist, JD Dillon, expanded on the concept of building a modern learning ecosystem to using that ecosystem effectively to reach all workers, including the deskless workers (e.g. retail associates, forklift drivers, food service employees, and plant workers). To accomplish this, he provides six guiding principles for enabling deskless learning that will help you equip these workers with the knowledge they need, when and where they need it.
Eighty percent of the global workforce is deskless. These workers are often the public face of the company and are the most likely to have a direct impact on customers. Yet, historically, they have been the most difficult to reach when it comes to training. They are often not in L&D’s direct line of vision and have limited connectivity, limited time, and limited control over their time.
Why focus on deskless workers?
These deskless employees are interacting with your customers on a regular basis or doing difficult, sometimes dangerous work. They want and need knowledge to make the right decisions at work. Although, reaching deskless workers has been a challenge in the past, it is now possible with the evolution of technology. L&D can now meet these employees where they are without taking them away from their jobs.
However, before using this technology, providing effective training for this group requires “a fundamental mindset shift”. The key to that shift is to establish learning that is human-centered rather than concept-centered.
Support everybody in the right way with the right content at the right time
JD offers six guiding principles to ensure your deskless workers can get the knowledge they need when they need it.
- Acknowledge the reality of 70/20/10. Most learning already takes place on the job and for deskless workers that could be all the learning they receive. Most of this learning is happening through hands-on experience at work. The question is, are we supporting learning where learning is actually happening?
- Fit learning experiences into the flow of work. We need to understand how work gets done and what the workday looks like so we fit learning into it without pulling workers away from their job. Let’s not ask them to do something else. Instead, we should ask how can we best fit learning into the natural workflow. Microlearning can really help with this.
- Enable frontline managers. We hire managers because they are good at their job not necessarily because they are good teachers. Despite this, they are still the most important person in corporate learning. So how do we help them get better at supporting their workers? How do we give them the tools they need?
- Motivate the shift from academic learning habits. Learning still looks like school to most people. It’s formal, structured and academic. In the real world, learning happens every day. It isn’t event driven. Learning should fit into the day-to-day workflow.
- Escape archaic learning technology and the experience it propagates. It’s very hard to put a course-based experience in front of the deskless workforce and expect these employees to be engaged. We need to provide learning where workers are. We need to escape from the antiquated and archaic experiences traditional LMSs provide.
- Providing value. Ask yourself why would your worker engage? Focus on business and individual value. Do the support and resources you are providing offer a clear value proposition? If workers don’t understand why completing this content, watching this video or reading this checklist is going to help them do their job better, there is no perceived value.
They key to all of this is to create a continuous learning experience that is less event driven and more focused on providing what workers need to know when they need it, in small bite-sized pieces.
So where should you go from here? What are some things you should think about?
- Person first, employee second. Don’t assume people can do eight hours of eLearning in a back room just because they work at your organization. Think about the person first (their unique backgrounds, experiences, capabilities and limitations) and the employee second.
- Stand up for all employees. Everyone wants knowledge and most want to do a good job. Ensure they are all getting what they need to perform at their best.
- Get closer to the flow of work. Knowing what your workers are doing and what their day looks like is key to providing them with what they need.
- Bring learning to the learner. Give workers the knowledge they need where they are rather than disrupting the workers’ day to bring them to the learning.
- Make learning part of every day. Integrate learning into the daily experiences of your worker.