But does it matter in all roles and all types of businesses? For the roles and responsibilities that tend to be repetitive, is training even necessary?
Consider this before you answer.
With a fresh driver’s license in hand, my son was convinced he had everything he needed to live his best life. How could it not get any better? But the gas tank doesn’t fill itself, and college tuition isn’t exactly chump change. The freedom of the open road is going to cost him; he needs to join the billion-plus workforce and earn a paycheck.
As 16-year-old luck would have it, the “perfect” job fell in his lap. He found an opening at an online store that has a fulfillment center minutes from home. “It’s a great gig,” he told me.
What defines a “great gig” these days? How about free pizza as you work? He can wear his earbuds and listen to his favorite tunes. Work schedule…what work schedule? Just drop in and work when you want. Get lonely? Bring your friends with you, and you all can work together. I just have one word for that…a word I kept to myself…“WOW!”
So, how was his first day? It was hectic and disorganized. Frustrating actually. Instead of a solid onboarding experience with on-the-job training, he was left to figure things out on his own. He signed in, asked a few employees where he should go, what he should do, and how to do it. Where’s the list of orders? How many does he need to complete? What’s the goal?
I can’t help but think how much more efficient he would’ve been had the company provided just a bit of support. There are so many learning options at this company’s disposal, including:
Video: Create a short video showing the fulfillment process from beginning to end. New employees could watch the video before getting started. What a great way to show best practices and pitfalls! And video can be created very inexpensively these days.
Job Aids: Create a document with the step-by-step process outlined and place it at every workstation. A reference at the learner’s fingertips, while in the actual workflow, would eliminate the need to watch the video again while trying to do the work. Talk about losing valuable time and shrinking your ROI!
Even a one-page FAQ document could answer common questions and offer troubleshooting solutions. For example, if the site crashes, how can an employee still fulfill orders?
Coaching: Assign a coworker to review a new hire’s work after a couple of hours on the job. What could the new person do better? What is he doing correctly? Coaching is also about giving positive feedback.
Companies can underestimate the need for new employee training just like they can overestimate it. It’s a fine balance. While employees can become disengaged by too much initial training without application on the job, they can also lose their way if there’s no guidance when they get started. Employees need enough training and support that they feel confident in their ability to get the job done and know there’s help if needed.
Although all-you-can-eat pizza and working with friends was enticing, it wasn’t enough to keep my son coming back. He’s opted for landscaping work. And even though the summer has been brutally hot, he sees the value in something more important. The owner has been very clear with his expectations and has teamed him up with another employee to function as his coach.
Oh, and he can still bring his earbuds.