The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the natural order of things — including training. With an increase of work from home options, there’s been a proliferation of innovative technology to sustain productivity and performance. Yet, finding new learning tools tailored to can be a blind spot for many organizations.

Simply put, front-line workers do not have the same options available to them as desk-bound workers. Deskless workers have no choice but to physically show up to work, adapt to ongoing processes, and in doing so, keep our economy running. They are the backbone of the world of work, but rarely a priority when it comes to new tech.

Lack of tools and training for front-line employees unfortunately is common, interfering with job satisfaction and preventing teams from feeling empowered to do their jobs. Learning and development (L&D) leaders can no longer ignore the needs of deskless workers — especially when it comes to training.

In fact, SafetyCulture research in partnership with YouGov indicated that seven in 10 team members described training as either very important or a top priority, even ahead of a competitive holiday allowance. However, according to new research by SafetyCulture, 67% of front-line workers say that they are never, rarely or only sometimes listened to on topics that matter to them the most.

It’s time to shine a spotlight on the forgotten workforce and reexamine our approach to learning and development (L&D) for front-line workers.

Here are some ways to engage front-line workers with training tailored just for them.

Make Training Accessible and Flexible

Training a front-line workforce presents a unique challenge to businesses — a balancing act of on-the-go access and productivity. Today’s learning tools need to tick off all of those boxes in the simplest way possible.

To cater learning to all employees, organizations should ensure that every team member can access their training, even if they’re not desk based. Mobile learning is a simple solution that allows people to pick up their phones and complete lessons immediately, whenever and wherever is convenient. It is an accessible way to provide training to those in the field or working in a hybrid environment.

Introduce training methods that resemble how people typically consume new information. Rather than delivering lengthy, complex courses, consider bite-sized training, like microlearning. By breaking learning into easy digestible chunks that can be completed in as little as five minutes, microlearning can boost employee engagement and learning retention.

Gamify the Experience

Research shows that gamifying the learner’s experience can dramatically increase engagement and improve results. Turning mundane tasks into interactive games to teach and reinforce key concepts. Gamification in a learning management system (LMS) is a great starting point to motivate your employees and can help with learning retention. ​​

We see this in our line of work every day. In fact, according EdApp’s internal data from 2021, the average knowledge retention rate of an EdApp microlearning course was 70 to 90%, compared to 15% for traditional learning. Also according to EdApp, the average completion rate of a mobile learning course was 82%.

Front-line employees want to develop new skills and increase their learning potential, just like the rest of the workforce. Mobile learning is not only a convenient on-the-go learning platform, but also gamifies the learner experience, building engagement and increase learning stickiness along the way.

Closing The Competence-confidence Loop

Upskilling team members is one thing. Properly utilizing their new capabilities and adapting training plans to suit their work needs is another thing. Training should be a continuous effort to maximize your frontline team’s ability. To ensure professional development efforts are successful, lean into employee feedback.

Be deliberate about understanding your frontline team. Make your people feel heard by creating a culture that promotes honesty, open communication and inclusivity — let their feedback become your new learning opportunity.

Their feedback can unlock potential gaps in training, better implementation strategies and numerous other areas of improvement. Foster a speak-up culture and you can transform your workplace into one where people feel confident to raise issues, speak up and be heard. For front-line workers who aren’t as comfortable about speaking up, make it easier for them by introducing QR codes to anonymously.

Organizations can unlock their full potential if they foster a deskless team that is confident in their skills, motivated to work and aligned with company goals. Skills development and continuous learning opportunities for front-line workers shouldn’t be a passing thought but a critical part of the business strategy.

Workforce Development