5 Reasons Reasons Workplace Training is Failing Frontline Employees

5 Reasons Workplace Training is Failing Frontline Employees

Mar 30, 2021 3:20:00 PM

Training & learning | Employee experience

Knowledge is power, and frontline employees who feel empowered in their jobs are more likely to perform their best. Well-trained employees are also more likely to feel fulfilled and continue working for their employer. For these reasons, it’s vital that businesses provide frontline workers with access to regular, impactful training to support them in their roles. 

However, our 2021 survey of 1000 frontline employees in the UK, US and Canada discovered that this is not the case- frontline employees feel unfulfilled, undervalued and 40% are trained only once a year or less

This needs to change, so we’ve put together a list of the top 5 reasons why workplace training is failing frontline employees and how employers can fix it.


1. Frontline employee roles and responsibilities have changed rapidly, so they need a constant stream of new knowledge

2020 saw frontline workers in industries such as retail, restaurants and manufacturing take on a whole host of new responsibilities including enforcing new safety guidelines and using new tech for tasks like curbside pickup. As their workloads stack up, employees need a consistent flow of information and training to continue to perform their best. 

Employers must ensure that the latest training is rapidly delivered and immediately accessible as and when employees need it in order to support them as they take on new tasks.


2. Frontline employees don’t have time for “traditional” training

Frontline employees want to be trained, but they don’t have time to make use of typical learning materials like manuals, paper instructions and webinars. As deskless workers, frontline employees are usually on their feet and on the move, so they need training materials which are compatible with this style of working. 

The most efficient and effective way to train employees is using on the job training embedded into their workflow, rather than formalized training sessions or take home materials. Training that is provided digitally using mobile apps is ideal for this, as employees can access the right information at the point of need, encouraging workplace autonomy.


3. Traditional on-boarding sessions are ineffective

Typically when a new employee joins an organization, they’re bombarded with information and then receive very little training once they’ve settled into the role. This ‘information dump’ approach to training fails to serve both employer and employee. With the pandemic putting strain on businesses including grocery stores and delivery services, employees need to be brought up to speed quickly, but traditional onboarding approaches can lead to cognitive overload. 

Without repetition, employees will typically forget 90% of the information they’ve learned within a month of the initial training session. Delivering vast quantities of information to new employees makes it unlikely that they will be able to recall information when they need to. Furthermore, an initial influx of general information makes it tougher for employees to remember what’s relevant  for their specific role.

Information dumping also doesn’t support employees after their initial onboarding as they don’t have access to relevant training when they actually need it. Frontline workers often work in jobs that are hands-on and practical, so they need training that is short, interactive and offers relevant knowledge at their point of need.

Microlearning offers short bursts of information broken into digestible chunks, allowing employees to retain more information for much longer. Microlearning doubles employee engagement in workplace training, as short bursts of information match human attention span and deliver training as part of a continuous learning journey.

Related: Microlearning Examples: 7 Ideas to Elevate Your Workplace Training


4. Frontline employees don’t know what’s in it for them

When you offer regular training it sends a message to your employees that you recognize their hard work and care about their progression within the company. The number one reason people change jobs is to advance their career and 48% of those trained once a year or less also feel under recognized. By investing in effective training employers are far more likely to retain employees.

Traditional online learning doesn’t offer insights into who has attempted each training course and how successfully it has been completed. This makes it impossible to acknowledge employees for going above and beyond with training. When employees know that they’ll get recognition for devoting more time to learning, they’ll feel more fulfilled and valued. Learning tools that use gamification can help acknowledge employees' efforts by providing virtual badges, points and leaderboards to encourage friendly competition and recognize employees who invest time into their learning.


5. Traditional training isn’t fun

Learning shouldn’t be a chore. The more enjoyable training is, the more likely employees are to remember information and want to learn more. 

Our survey revealed that 58% of employees think the most important thing about training is that it’s engaging and fun. 

This is particularly relevant to baby boomers, who have typically been in their jobs for a longer time and feel that they already understand their role. To motivate boomers to want to complete training, it will need to be fun and appeal to them. 

It’s not just boomers who benefit from enjoying training. Research has uncovered that Gen Z brains have developed to be structurally different to the brains of previous generations and are highly responsible to visual forms of learning. Growing up surrounded by technology intensively develops the area of the brain responsible for engaging with complex visual imagery. The best training to engage Gen Z brains is learning that is visually stimulating, such as interactive quizzes, games and collaborative challenges.

Speaking more generally, research has shown that enjoyable experiences increase levels of dopamine, endorphins, and oxygen in the brain and that people learn better when they feel strong positive emotions. The facts speak for themselves- if you want your employees to remember information, deliver it in a way that’s fun!

It’s clear that traditional training methods are limiting employees, preventing them from feeling fulfilled and performing to their potential. Employers are also being let down by typical training methods, as they struggle to retain employees and fail to create a workforce which provides the optimum level of customer service. It’s time to act now. Transforming the way that your organization trains is arguably the most effective way to maximize your employee experience, productivity and ultimately your profits in 2021.


To find out more about what your frontline teams need from you to feel fulfilled in the workplace, download the 2021 State of the Frontline Employee Workplace

2021 State of the Frontline Employee Workplace Survey Download