Blue- and white-collar workers are like pepper and salt: one can’t go without the other! Yet the importance of frontline staff is often unfairly underestimated. Even though they play a vital role in the workforce, as they directly or indirectly contribute to employees’ work in white-collar positions.
This segment of the workforce faces some great challenges nowadays. Number one is the need for effective training and upskilling opportunities. It is safe to say that the need for training is crucial for the future of frontline workers. In this blog article, we explain why. Let’s dig in!
Why is training frontline employees important?
Good question! The reason is threefold:
- Job shortage is around the corner – As Baby Boomers and Gen X employees begin to retire, it’s crucial to draw in new talent from Gen Y and Z. However, these younger generations are really looking for employer-provided training, growth and skills-building opportunities when they search for jobs. So, it will become inevitable to offer these benefits to get them excited about these frontline positions!
- Artificial Intelligence is on the rise – Technology is evolving at the speed of light, but this does not mean that frontline workers will become obsolete in the near future. On the contrary! They will still need to be there to fill in the gaps where human intervention is required. This means that frontline employee training will need to focus on skills like troubleshooting and repairing machinery.
- Keep current staff productive & motivated – As there are fewer and fewer people to fill these jobs, it becomes imperative to keep your current frontline staff happy and on board. When your frontline team feels they lack the right skills to keep doing their jobs or that you don’t care enough to develop them, they might become less productive and disengaged, and they could begin to look for work elsewhere.
How to train your frontline team effectively?
All right, now that you understand the importance of training your frontline staff and its benefits, it’s time to look at how you can train them effectively. Here we go!
- New frontline employees:
Tip one: build a learning culture from the start. Implement training through your learning platform in the onboarding process, so that new frontline workers can get familiar with the learning technology you’re using and see all the training and learning content available for them. This way you immediately plant a seed for future growth within the company.
Another great training strategy is to have newly hired frontline employees shadow more experienced team members for a few weeks, so they can experience first-hand how the job is done.
Pairing them with a mentor they feel comfortable with can also be a great way to train new hires. The mentor should be someone different from the person who trains them on their job duties. A person that can give advice, provide insights into the company culture, and just support them in general.
2. Seasoned frontline employees:
Seasoned frontline workers keep on learning every day through hands-on experience. This is what we call on-the-job training (OJT). It is what happens daily at work. The main goal of OJT is to combine learning and everyday work: employees learn their roles, see how everything works, and improve their skills in real time – on the job. Learning is part of the work itself rather than something separate, which drives productivity, increases engagement, and boosts knowledge retention.
3. All frontliners:
Blended learning works for all types of frontline employees! This learning approach combines face-to-face training with online learning. For example, bite-sized digital modules containing fundamental knowledge can be followed by classroom training.
Classroom training sessions can help to put new skills into practice and promote teamwork. Whereas online learning, and more specifically microlearning, is perfect for providing information in a manageable and accessible way – not overwhelming learners.
Microlearning is the perfect solution because it’s hard for frontline workers to take time away from their jobs for lengthy training. With microlearning, the learning content is broken down into bite-sized chunks of text, videos and/or visuals accompanied by fun quizzes to keep learners engaged. Your frontline staff can learn at their own pace, whenever and wherever they want. Just 5-10 minutes a day, that’s all it takes! So, it’s easy to fit into the flow of work.
What to train your frontline staff on?
Let’s not beat around the bush. The most important training topics for blue-collar workers are probably safety and compliance. But don’t just focus on on-the-job skills – of course, technical skills are very important but go beyond and enrich your frontline team with soft skills as well! Providing this kind of personal growth and learning for your staff, gives you a great competitive advantage when it comes to employee retention!
Here are some interesting topics for soft skills training:
- Wellbeing – A healthy team (physically and mentally) is a happy team, and a happy, motivated workforce is exactly what you want for your company!
- Setting goals – This gives your team something to strive for in their work and personal lives!
- Teamwork – This is crucial no matter what industry you’re working in, as it helps to create a positive work environment.
- Problem-solving – This helps make your team feel confident in their ability to respond effectively to any challenges at work.
By now, it’s clear that the need for training is vital for the future of frontline workers! Different learning strategies apply to new hires as opposed to seasoned frontliners, but we know one thing for sure: blended learning (classroom training + online microlearning) works for both! And as far as the topics go, it’s crucial to enrich your team with on-the-job skills as well as soft skills. Good luck!