Develop your frontline workers

Discover effective strategies for training and developing frontline employees. Reaching office-bound employees for mandatory training is often straightforward. But what about 80% of the global workforce don't spend their days at a desk with a computer as their primary tool?

This blog post will explore actionable tips to effectively train and develop your frontline workforce effectively. But first, let's have a look at why training this group of employees is a bit more challenging!

Training Frontliners 

“We never have the chance to say, ‘OK, everybody, come to the HQ, we're gonna have a training.’  It's just not possible.” 

Prima_Mari Mari Lønne Wergeland, Learning & Development Specialist, Prima Assistanse

 

Training frontline workers presents unique challenges. Irregular schedules, some do not always have one consistent location, often on the go, often in sharp situations, limited access to digital tools, and so on. These are just a few of the reasons why training frontliners can be complicated. 

On top of that, high turnover rates are common in fields with many frontline workers. That means training needs to be efficient and effective to ensure maximum impact quickly. And yes, it can be done! Let's see how!

1. Get to Know Your Workers  

“If you’re really specific on who you are trying to serve, what is their problem, you can speak to those individuals specifically and really help them. And I think that is  quite powerful.”

Ross Ross Stevenson, Learning Expert & Consultant, Founder of Steal These Thoughts

 

Understanding your workers' specific needs and constraints is important for overcoming training challenges. As always, when creating employee training, you need to start by getting to know and understanding your audience.

This includes considering their work environment, availability, and preferred learning methods. When do your employees have some downtime, and when is the best time for them to take training? Talk to them to get their point of view!  Learn about their job roles, struggles, motivations, career goals, and preferred communication methods. 

Finding your workers' natural means of communication and day-pace will be an important link in order to reach them with information and nudge them to go through the training. Get the information you need by, for example, conducting surveys, focus groups, observe employees at work, or talk to employees individually. 

2. Make Learning a Part of Work from Day 1

"It's really a dream for HR to know that when people join us, they get the same basic knowledge no matter where in the world they are placed."

Hilde_circle Hilde R Sønnichsen, Chief HR Officer, Uhrenholt

 

From the get-go, underscore the significance of training. Use digital learning for your pre- and onboarding. If you do use digital learning, make sure to simplify access to it by streamlining login processes. You do not want this to be an obstacle, user experience plays a big role here! A good idea is to use familiar details like phone numbers or email addresses to log in. 

Then, integrate on-site training into the onboarding process to emphasize its pivotal role in the company culture. By setting clear expectations and articulating the significance of learning, you will cultivate an environment of perpetual growth, addressing concerns like safety, compliance, and professional advancement. 

At Gaudium Catering, they introduce their workers to the training already before the first day. They use digital pre- and onboarding where their employees get the basic streamlined introductions to set them up for a good start. Hear what one of their employees has to say about his onboarding.👇

 

3. Blend Digital & On-site Training

“Now, we can let the people get the basics with digital learning before they come to class, which gives a better experience for everyone.”

Lindab_Krist_2png Krist Viaene, Academy Manager, Lindab

 

Combining digital and on-site training is ideal for frontline workers, offering flexibility and accessibility. Digital resources like e-learning modules allow learning at one's own pace and convenience, accessible from anywhere at any time. Perfect for foundational building and refreshing knowledge.

Yet, it is important to supplement digital training with on-site training. Practical training is essential for most frontline workers. This is where you provide hands-on experience, practical demonstrations, and immediate feedback. Ensure seamless integration of both methods for maximum effectiveness and minimal disruption to workflow.

4. Promote Your Digital Training 

"We had a big launch at the head office with goodie bags and cupcakes. And we also sent goodie bags to the other regions."  

Hilde_circle Hilde R Sønnichsen, Chief HR Officer, Uhrenholt

 

For your digital training to be successfulit's not enough to create it. You need to make your workers aware that it exists. And most likely, you will need to remind your employees about the training as well. Most people are really busy, and the training might fall between the chairs without reminders. 

To encourage participation in digital training, send targeted reminders to your workers through the communication channels that you have identified to work best for their specific audience.

5. Join Forces with Managers

"We have to remind them [the employees] some too. I write to the manager, or they get a reminder by email."

Vinnie_circle Vinnie Finderup, Senior HR Business Partner at Uhrenholt

 

To ensure the success of your frontline workforce training, it is essential to involve and collaborate with managers and leaders. Managers play a crucial role in supporting and reinforcing training efforts and creating employee engagement. A good manager and leader provides guidance, coaching, and ongoing support to workers throughout their training journey. 

By joining forces with managers, organizations can create a cohesive and unified approach to frontline workforce training, ensuring that the training is aligned with the organization's goals and objectives.

Read more about the importance of managers for employee training here. 

Key Takeaways

  • Get to know your audience and understand the specific challenges of training frontline workers, such as limited computer access, traditional training resources, or language barriers. 
  • Integrate training into daily tasks and responsibilities to make learning a part of the work from day one. Use digital preboarding before day one.
  • Combine digital and on-site training methods to maximize the training and provide flexibility and hands-on experience.
  • Collaborate with managers and provide leadership training to ensure their support and reinforcement of the training efforts. Good leadership has a positive effect on your business in general.