How to Train New Teams for the Holidays
With the National Retail Federation predicting “record spending levels” for the holiday season, a lot rests on frontline workers being ready and capable to perform during the peak consumer surges. With managers tied up in scheduling, larger inventory volumes, and handling customer escalations, you need training that's consistent, engaging and effective.
However, during these peak periods, particularly for retailers with staffing shortages, there's less time for individual staff members to focus on onboarding and upskilling. In many cases those new employees now have to be multidisciplinary in the job that they're being asked to do. All too often this leads to onboarding that's effectively just orientation — ‘’here's where everything is.’’
Tech is providing the opportunity for retailers to incorporate much more impactful training with accelerated time to competence. This can be used to full competitive advantage in the holiday season. Here are the top components to consider:
1. Bite-Sized Learning
Be agile. Micro-learning games are easily accessible on mobile devices so your trainees can learn on the go. Breaking learning into smaller pieces makes it easier to learn. Games make the learning fun and trainees are more likely to repeat the lessons to reach the confidence and competence levels you need for them to be successful. These training games can be used as a supportive tool — an augmentation to your time — especially in a season with extended hours and increased volume. Adding micro-learning modules can make the training experience far more engaging and efficient.
2. AI-Supported Platforms for Content Creation
Investigate tools that help you create your own training content in-house. Platforms built with artificial intelligence where you can create and update bespoke training content in an instant will alleviate the need for technical expertise or coding. This time-save is imperative in the season of compounded promotions.
3. Experiential Learning
Simulations are a great way to support trainees in a safe environment that adds realistic context to the learning. Trainees can make mistakes and learn from them in an immersive experience that translates into their real-life roles. If we truly want our seasonal employees to engage and develop rapidly so they can create organizational KPI impact, they need to be comfortable and familiar with the environment. The ability to practice with avatar customers is a major benefit to trainees who need to be onboarded efficiently at the busiest time of the year.
4. Measurable Data
Training metrics matter. When you invest in training tech, check the analytics capabilities to ensure you can accurately measure impact. Does the number of repetitions correlate with improved sales? Can trainees successfully apply their newly learned skills to their real-life roles? Impact data can be used not only to measure the success of the training, but to inform future training solutions to achieve even greater impact.
5. Immerse in the Brand
Seasonal staff reflect your brand values and reputation just as much as long-term employees. It makes sense to invest in high-quality training for temporary employees. Employees that feel invested in are more likely to have pride in their performance and a deeper sense of brand loyalty — even if they're seasonal and part-time staff. Ultimately, this bolsters your workforce as you cultivate a sense of team, which extends beyond the holiday season.
With rapid advances in AI, there has never been a better time to invest in training technology that increases productivity and helps you to train retail staff to be at their absolute best during the most important period of the retail calendar.
Greg Hull, MD of retail and hospitality at Attensi, a mobile training app.
Related story: Hiring Seasonal Employees: 3 Strategies for Business Owners