Training Determines Whether Seasonal Employees Sink or Swim
Seasonal hiring will hit a whopping 700,000 jobs this year. Target alone plans to hire a record 120,000 seasonal workers throughout the holiday rush. No matter the role, the success of these employees (and the health of their employers’ bottom lines) depends completely on the training systems used to get them up to speed — quickly.
Adding to the pressure is an unemployment rate that’s at an all-time low. Organizations will find themselves in fierce competition for a smaller pool of candidates, many of whom will settle for employees with less experience than they might require. These hires will need to ramp up quickly, and will undoubtedly add pressures to the managers tasked with training them, risking significant losses in time and revenue.
How can businesses prepare new hires efficiently without sacrificing quality or results? It starts with understanding how the following considerations fit into their learning strategy.
New Employees Need Hands-On Learning Experiences
Increased adoption of automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and other emerging technologies in retail has made training for these tools critical. For example, companies like Oasis are arming sales associates with iPads to streamline in-store customer experience. The exciting new technology allows employees to give customers immediate product information, serves as a mobile cash register, and allows associates to immediately place online orders for out-of-stock items. To be truly effective with these tools, employees need hands-on, experiential training that highlights real-world applications.
Embracing experiential learning is one of the best ways to give new employees the skills and confidence they need to make the best use of new tools and technology. Achieving it is possible with the 70:20:10 learning framework, where 70 percent of learning happens via on-the-job experiences, 20 percent through interactions with peers, and just 10 percent in traditional environments. The approach is proven to produce accelerated skills adoption and benefits related to workforce motivation, which are both critical to the successful ramp up of seasonal hires. Furthermore, offering a range of learning environments, from hands-on to social to instructor-led experiences, gives learners the variety they need to become well-rounded employees.
Make Training Social
Seasonal hires are meant to support the year’s busiest shopping days. Doing so means getting up to speed on the retail floor, while interacting with a number of different customer demands, producing situations where it’s highly likely they may feel overwhelmed. These pressures can be alleviated with an onboarding process that includes elements of social learning to ease tension or discomfort while accelerating the learning process.
The most effective way to encourage peer interactions is through supporting features such as chat within your training program. However, to get the most out of social learning, businesses need to go beyond what they can offer through courses and features alone. This includes facilitating informal and collaborative learning through peer reviews, coaching, and even custom training, in which veteran employees can share quick tips and tricks that seasonal hires can leverage to get acclimated quickly.
Investing in a learning platform that supports this kind of communication is particularly helpful for new hires as it gives them a shared resource to solve problems collectively, which in turn helps them gain confidence in their ability to perform on the job. Moreover, having the ability to connect digitally allows new hires to learn the “tricks of the trade” from experienced professionals who might not necessarily be in their location.
Personalization is Key: Always Respect Different Learning Styles
While seasonal training needs to be swift and efficient, that doesn’t mean it should take a one-size-fits-all approach. If training isn’t customized to the needs and preferences of different learners, they’ll be far less likely to retain information.
Personalized learning lets employees create their own learning environments. Providing customizable, on-demand training options allow employees to not only choose when and where they learn, but gives them the flexibility to choose the device, pace and structure of their learning programs. It’s also important to ensure that your training program fits a range of platforms, particularly mobile. Almost 90 percent of mobile app users say that apps for work have changed their behaviors as business professionals, making it the most impactful channel for training.
Including learning resources on the platforms employees are already using and familiar with encourages higher rates of participation and, ultimately, loyalty. Organizations also benefit from offering on-demand, customizable training options that give them the ability to assess learner behavior and adapt individual learning paths that align with employees’ unique interests and preferences.
Companies that are able to strike a balance between training employees quickly and prioritizing a meaningful learning experience will see the most success in the onboarding of their seasonal hires this year. And with the right learning technology, your business can train seasonal hires faster and more effectively with on-demand, mobile and personalized programs that encourage the social and experiential interactions traditional training can’t offer.
Matt Powell is a content manager at Docebo, an AI-based learning management system.