In competitive markets and industries, employee training programs become about more than just getting people up-to-speed: they become differentiators. We spoke with Requelle Simpson, training specialist, Minor DKL Food Group, about the components of a great L&D initiative, where you can go wrong and how to get leadership buy-in.
Your people are your knowledge and ultimately your success, says Requelle Simpson, training specialist with Minor DKL Food Group (MDKL). Like many franchise-based, retail or hospitality organisations, Simpson says The Coffee Club struggles with high turnover and employee retention. To combat this, the company, which won the AHRI Peter Williams Award for HR technology in 2015, invested in comprehensive and forward-thinking employee training programs to boost its retention strategy.
It’s an exciting time to be part of the learning and development space, she says. Things like gamification, simulations and – more recently – virtual reality are taking employee training programs to new heights. This isn’t to say you should throw everything you know onto an e-learning module. In fact, that can be counterproductive, says Simpson.
Instead, she recommends employee training programs have a blended learning approach, where face-to-face learning and online training work in tandem to educate and upskill employees. The way to get there is to take a step back and take a holistic view of your organisational goals and objectives: Everything needs to feed into that end-user perspective.
“The customer always needs to be at the forefront of your training and development strategy,” she says. In The Coffee Club’s case, that means everything down to getting the latte art just right – something any coffee connoisseur can appreciate.
Once you figure out the business’ needs, the fun begins. Simpson encourages organisations to be creative in how they present employee training programs. For example, to help train baristas, Simpson and her team had one of their trainers wear a camera and walk through the correct and incorrect steps of making coffee. This footage was then uploaded to an e-learning module; during training, employees go through each of these steps, choose the correct course of action, and even receive ‘customer feedback’ on their ‘coffee’.
It’s been a huge success, and Simpson says their focus on learning and development has enhanced other pillars of the organisation’s people management strategy, including employee engagement, recruitment and retention.
“You need to create a space for people to be safe to make mistakes while learning,” she says. “If they have opportunities to be successful in your business, they will become raving fans, and that’s good for you in the long run. That’s definitely a case to make for leadership to get on board with investing in employee training programs.”