Frontline employees make up an estimated 80% of the global workforce. The things they do every day influence your customers’ decisions and impact your brand. In other words, your company won’t succeed unless your frontline workers do.
So, if your bottom-line success is tied to your frontline performance, then you need to balance the development needs of your employees with the performance needs of your business. What you need is a plan.
In The ultimate guide to frontline training, we’ve mapped out how you can redesign your frontline communication and training program to strike this balance.
This guide is your go-to resource for kickstarting a modern learning transformation. It’s full of valuable and, more importantly, actionable insights, like:
- How to redesign the frontline training experience
- Tips for building training content specifically for the frontline
- Solutions to familiar problems (like onboarding, reinforcement, compliance, communication and reskilling)
- Ways to measure the impact of frontline training
- Steps to evolve your frontline training
Consider this your step-by-step guide for building training content, redesigning the frontline experience, and troubleshooting some of the biggest and most common problems in frontline communication and training.
The essential nature of frontline employees
Frontline employees are critical to the success of your business. For better or worse, they’re the boots-on-the-ground executors of business strategy. Your business will succeed based on the decisions they make and the customer service they deliver every day.
The proof’s in the numbers:
One out of three shoppers identifies salespeople as the strategy most likely to impress them when they walk into a store.
59% of customers will leave a company after several bad experiences—even if they love it.
33% of consumers say the most relevant aspect of a positive customer service experience is resolving their issue in one interaction, no matter how long it takes.
70% of customer experience transformations fail not due to poor planning or lack of resources, but because of employee resistance.
Ok. But what does all this mean?
Well, you can have the most forward-thinking, foolproof business strategy imaginable, but if your frontline employees can’t deliver high-value customer experiences, customers will look elsewhere. In other words, if your employees aren’t getting the up-to-date information they need, they won’t be able to do their jobs well…and your business will suffer.
Which begs the question: What kind of support do today’s frontline employees need to perform? And how can organizations evolve their strategies and tactics to meet these needs now and in the future?
Download the full PDF guide to find out. You’ll also get answers to the most common questions about frontline communication, training and support, tips on how to enable your frontline employees, and practical solutions you can use to drive meaningful results.
Meet the modern frontline employee
Modern-day frontline employees are:
As employees’ roles evolve, so do their training needs. Regularly refreshing your understanding of the frontline workforce will help you align your training strategy with their evolving needs and the overall strategic priorities of your business.
The best way to find out what they need when it comes to learning and support is to get out of the office and spend time on the frontline. Ask employees for their input. You may be surprised by what you learn.
Want to learn more about the modern-day frontline employees’ qualities and their views on learning and support experiences? Download the full guide.
Common obstacles to frontline training
Frontline employees need the right training and support to do their best work, but things always seem to get in the way. Instead of letting employees’ performance suffer because they can’t get the training they need, you need to adapt your strategy to overcome the most common obstacles.
The number one barrier to efficient frontline training is lack of time. Employees can’t step away from their role for 30 – 60 minutes for traditional training. They can’t just change their schedule around to squeeze in training.
Turnover in frontline roles is a constant. Employees can stay and make a job their career, or they can easily move on. But constantly recruiting and onboarding new hires takes up a lot of resources, leaving limited bandwidth for ongoing development of existing frontline employees.
There can be hundreds of thousands of frontline employees in a company located around the world, speaking multiple languages. This reality makes it difficult to reach every frontline employee with traditional training, such as classroom sessions or eLearning modules.
Frontline employees use plenty of technology in their day-to-day work, including point of sale systems, inventory tools and mobile devices. But they hardly ever sit in front of a computer, and they can rarely get to the back office long enough to use the training computer.
With so many frontline employees in a company, providing a personalized training experience for each and every one of them can seem impossible, especially when training resources are limited.
Senior management doesn’t always see the connection between frontline training and business results. So it’s important to get the right people involved (like frontline managers) to help make a case and ensure frontline employees get the training and support they need.
If you want to build an effective modern training experience for your frontline, you need to account for these obstacles. But keep in mind, just as employees evolve, so does the workplace. New obstacles will appear. Technology will improve. Stakeholders will change. You’ll have to remain agile so you can change with your organization’s and your employees’ needs.
A modern-day approach to frontline learning can help you overcome common obstacles, like time, turnover, logistics, technology and personalization. Download the full PDF guide now and learn how to take action and enable real business results through effective frontline performance.
Redesign the frontline communication and training experience
Efficient training ensures that your employees perform at their best, which helps your business hit its goals and achieve measurable results. But for most frontline employees, training relies heavily on traditional, event-based tactics (like classroom sessions and long eLearning modules). Frontline employees just don’t have time for this type of training. And, since it usually isn’t reinforced, they forget most of what was covered, making much of the training they receive ineffective.
So, how can you redesign the learning and support experience to help frontline employees do their best work every day? And how can this experience help drive improved business performance as a result?
Build training content for the frontline
Traditional courses can’t solve many of the problems frontline employees face on the job for two primary reasons:
- Frontline employees don’t have time to complete this type of training (especially given how quickly they need to solve performance challenges).
- Their problems are often so specific that they often aren’t covered in the usual course content.
Solving specific problems requires a more targeted approach to content design. Rather than jumping to a course as the default solution, you should start at the end—with the result the business wants to achieve—and work your way back to determine what type of content fits best.
Effective training content should:
START WITH THE RESULT
DEFINE THE REQUIRED BEHAVIORS
DETERMINE THE REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE
DETERMINE RIGHT-FIT CONTENT
This modern approach to content design will not only help you identify the right solution for a performance challenge, but it will also lay the groundwork for improved learning measurement.
Learn more about what to keep in mind when designing content in The ultimate guide to frontline training.
Use modern frontline training to solve traditional problems
Let’s explore some of the familiar problems frontline employees encounter with communication, onboarding, reinforcement, compliance, and reskilling.
Special promotions. Process improvements. Industry news. There’s always new information that frontline employees need to do their job.
While most of this information doesn’t require in-depth training, it still involves frontline employees’ attention. Most of them don’t have a work email address, so they rely on the manager for updates. Sometimes, they don’t get this information right away, especially if they aren’t on an early schedule to attend the morning huddle. And even though managers usually post new information on the bulletin board in the breakroom, after a while, these postings all start to blur together.
Traditional training starts to fail frontline employees almost immediately. They’re excited to start but are also a bit overwhelmed as they try to figure out how things work. They spend several days in non-stop, all-day training session and retain the information just long enough to pass the initial assessment.
Then, it’s sink or swim. If they’re lucky, their manager and peers will help them keep their heads above water until they gain enough on-the-job experience. The unlucky ones (22% of employees who turnover in the first 45 days on the job) simply move on to the next gig.
Traditional training ignores the undeniable truth: people forget.
Employees are so busy doing their job, that it’s hard to schedule them for training. When they finally get into a classroom or in front of a computer, they’re hit with a ton of information. Once they get back on the job, they immediately start to forget what they just learned. If they don’t apply this information quickly and regularly, it is almost as if they never completed the training at all.
Frontline employees do a lot of compliance training. Some of it takes place initially (during onboarding). Some of it’s an annual requirement. And even more is added when new policies and regulations are introduced.
It takes a long time to complete this training. And pulling employees from where they’re needed for hours on end puts a strain on the operation. Managers often have to chase people down to get them to do their training on time. Once they finish the training, employees never really hear about the content again as part of their everyday work.
If you want to stay competitive, you have to be agile and adjust to changing consumer expectations.
As new products and processes are introduced, it causes job requirements to change. Frontline employees need help keeping up with the pace of change. But traditional training programs don’t usually support this level of agility. They tend to focus on the skills frontline employees need to perform today, rather than focus on developing skills for tomorrow.
Measuring the impact of frontline training
Metrics like test scores, course completions and surveys just don’t provide enough data to determine how training is actually impacting the business. So, how will you know if your reimagined approach to training is working employees on the frontline?
Here are three steps to measuring the impact of frontline training:
Adapt data-rich tactics
Design data-rich solutions
Partner with experts
Steps to evolve your frontline training
We’ve given you lots of practical ideas to help you improve your frontline communication and training strategy.
So, what should you prioritize? What tactics should you apply? Where should you begin?
How about with The ultimate guide to frontline training? We’ve pulled together a checklist of 10 steps to help get you started.
The future of frontline communication and training
Frontline employees want to do their best work every day. But they need your support to develop the right knowledge and skills to help your business achieve its goals.
By transforming your frontline learning into a personalized and ongoing experience that fits into your frontline’s reality, your organization will be able to evolve more quickly than your competition and deliver a customer experience that truly stands apart.
Regardless of industry, role, or generation, your frontline employees deserve the support they need to succeed. Your training must balance the frontline performance and development needs of each employee with the priorities and performance of your business. When it does, not only will your frontline succeed, but your business will too.