Last year, home improvement spending hit all-time highs. One survey found that three out of four American homeowners have completed a home renovation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lowe’s stores across the country saw high demand from customers looking to change up their living spaces.

Transformation was underway behind the scenes at Lowe’s, too. Over the past year, they have re-envisioned their associate journey to ensure that the frontline has everything they need to perform their best on the job.

“We’ve really adapted a mentality at Lowe’s that training is continuous,” says Jamie Furey, VP of Talent Management, Learning and Diversity at Lowe’s. “We believe that training has to be there at all the moments that matter. In retail, those moments are when you start, when you interact with a customer, when we change over our products and trends. There are so many moments that matter, so we just knew that we had to be there more often.”

Lowe’s partnered with Axonify to create Lowe’s U, a one-stop shop for personalized, bite-sized training, communications and on-demand job aids and resources. It’s all accessible on the devices they’re already using, so they can keep the learning going without leaving the floor.

Streamlined onboarding sets associates up for success

Furey and her team knew that an associate’s first few weeks on the job set the tone for their whole tenure with the company. Their goal: stop firehosing new hires with content they can’t possibly absorb and remember. To do that, they had to get strategic about what associates need to learn and when.

“We went on this quest to figure out the five things that are most important for associates to get done when they first start, for every department at Lowe’s,” Furey explained. “We rooted our onboarding program around those five most important things, breaking them down in a really digestible way.”

This meant developing new content—800 micro videos, as well as a host of quizzes, images and hands-on activities. The content was personalized to each department and served up in different modalities to accommodate different learning styles.

“We wanted to think about onboarding the way that a new associate might,” Furey explained. “We’ve broken it down so that in eight shifts or less you will go through your onboarding content, and we’ve created a full shift plan. It’s very easy to finish something and move onto the next thing—it guides you through it. Associates have a million things going on when they first start. Being told very clearly in a succinct way how to get yourself onboarded is a big win in and of itself.”

Continuous learning boosts confidence and competence

Furey and her team recognized that the traditional way of training—piling everyone into the backroom or a conference room for long sessions—didn’t match the reality of life on the frontlines.

“You learn best when you’re in the environment where you’ll be applying the learning. So we wanted to get learning out on the floor, around the products, around the customers, around the people that you work with. It was really important for us to provide learning at the time of need, out on the floor,” said Furey.

Associates can easily fit learning into their day, building their skills and knowledge on a continuous basis. Over 80% of Lowe’s associates log in between 2 – 5 times a week for quick training sessions to reinforce critical information and get them up to speed on new developments.

“Things are always changing. That’s the constant in retail,” said Furey. “With the partnership of Axonify, we’re able to continuously send new tips, tricks, videos, facts and microlearning on product knowledge, customer trends and seasonalities.”

Giving associates short, digestible training content, accessible in the moment of need, is proving to be a game-changer.

“We can have people repeat training as needed, because we’ve shortened the training and made it really compelling and bite-sized. And they’re able to apply that knowledge quickly, because we aren’t giving them everything at once.”

“When we’re out in stores, people are saying learning is easier than ever. We’re hearing managers say that this is such an incredible tool to leverage to coach their associates.”
Jamie Furey, VP of Talent Management, Learning and Diversity, Lowe’s

Better frontline performance is good for business

“When we’re out in stores, people are saying learning is easier than ever,” says Furey. “We’re hearing managers say that this is such an incredible tool to leverage to coach their associates.”

When associates are equipped to perform their best, that means happier employees, smoother operations and better service for customers. It’s no wonder that Lowe’s views continuous learning as critical to their continued growth in a competitive market.

“Lowe’s U has become a platform that allows us to make sure that we’re able to go after being a growth retailer and being the best home improvement retailer.”

Give your frontline associates the support they need to stay safe and productive.