This creates an issue for organizations with large field forces, as training frontline workers isn’t easy. While organizations likely have training programs for the base skills and processes of a role, traditional training methods don’t typically apply when training on digital tools used in the field. Training leaders often aren’t sure how to provide the necessary digital training and ongoing support these frontline workers need.
Beyond the training challenges around the influx of new workers, problems also occur when new technology is introduced. When a company rolls out a new digital solution but fails to adequately train its frontline workers (and support them long-term), this tool won’t be adopted or used correctly. As a result, the time and money spent creating the solution is wasted.
The bottom line is this: organizations with large field forces are in need of a new training solution—a digital training & engagement tool. Any Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) solution needs to be optimized to work specifically for the frontline. This guide will lay out five ways to solve your frontline tech adoption challenges.
It’s important to train users in the environment they will be working. For digital tools used on the job, this training should happen on the employee’s device - and for frontline workers, that often means a mobile device. Additionally, users increasingly want things that are more self-guided and that includes training. That’s why hands-on simulation is much more effective than just visually showing someone how to use a tool, allowing the worker to get into the application right away.
For this type of guided simulation, it is best practice to break parts of the app down into discrete bite-sized lessons, giving context to the app functionality by relating back to the specific job duties and business processes the worker will be doing. Each lesson should be organized into three parts:
1. Overview or “walkthrough” of what the user will learn
2. Guided practice within the app
3. Assessment to demonstrate competence
Depending on the worker, each will have a different set of lessons unique to their role. Companies can also use video here to demonstrate how to use specific features or show how to use the app in context.
Why video? Just ask YouTube. More than half (51%) of YouTube users use the site to learn how to do new things, from how to change their oil to how to fix something in their home. Plus, more than 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile devices.
Many workers, whether new or simply unfamiliar with the technology,
need training on the actual devices (and peripherals) they will be using
in the field, which may include how to:
• Turn it on and off
• Connect Bluetooth
• Swap batteries
• Troubleshoot technical issues
• Use onboard features of the device, like a barcode scanner, or
connect to external devices, such as printers
The devices used for these applications aren’t always consumer-grade phones or tablets but are often more rugged devices meant to
withstand the tougher environments where frontline workers are.
When introducing digital transformation initiatives, organizational leaders too often overlook the human element. Critically, they fail to recognize that end users are anxious about change – and especially about technology change. With the introduction of Internet of Things for data capture, robotics for process automation, and mobile apps to drive better inventory visibility and sales forecasting, many employees fear that new tech will lead to replacing frontline jobs.
When new technology is introduced the wrong way it gets in the way of the benefits envisioned from digital transformation initiatives. And the wrong way is forgetting that your essential employees are the most critical link in the chain that determines success or failure.
Although more and more technology has been deployed in an effort to modernize frontline operations in recent years, most organizations have not changed the way they support their frontline workers to ensure they can use digital tech effectively. When frontline workers don’t know how to use their technology, they become easily frustrated. That frustration leads to dissatisfaction, higher turnover, and mistakes – all of which have adverse implications for the business.
Training can’t be a “one and done” event. Doing so isn’t practical or effective. According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, without reinforcement, people forget 40% of their training after a few days and 90% after a month, on average. Up-front training leads to competency, but ongoing engagement, guidance, and reinforcement lead to mastery. Consider the following hypothetical scenarios.
A worker walks into the job site and forgets how to do a particular task or process. Their lessons are always available on their device, so they can reference them at any time on-demand. This accessibility is also beneficial for a task the worker rarely does and needs a refresher on.
As a result, support and managers experience fewer calls requesting assistance using technology and applications. Plus, the worker gets their answer much fast, as it takes an average of 24.2 hours to provide the first response to an internal support ticket.
The company identifies a problem with how workers are performing a particular task in the field. The company can push a training campaign out to the entire workforce (such as a training video or new lesson) or to specific users based on role, region, and more, so workers can learn without downtime.
There are further reasons ongoing engagement is so crucial. In some industries, annual field worker turnover rates can be anywhere from 25%-100%, making regular training for new workers necessary. Furthermore, when working with digital/mobile apps, there will likely be updated and new features added regularly, which necessitates additional training.