Retail Training Improve Operational Efficiency and Retention

How Training Can Improve Your Labor Efficiency and Retention Rates in Retail

Anthony Henry
Senior Retail Consultant and Project Manager

For years, companies have struggled with increasing their associate retention rate through improved associate training programs. A well-trained, experienced associate working efficiently reaps dividends. Associates are a valuable part of any organization and must be trained to maximize their skill sets to benefit the organization beyond their role alone. For retailers, and all companies, this will improve labor efficiencies and drive operating costs down in the long run.

To create a happy, productive workforce, retail organization training departments must provide opportunities for growth that align with associate learning styles. Also, associates must feel that they have the margin in their schedule to attend training without falling too far behind. Unfortunately, too many associates dismiss training as boring or superfluous. This is most obvious when training content does not directly align with an associate’s expected tasks. Matching associate training to associate needs ensures employees receive the information they need, in the format best suited for them.

In this blog post, we will review the different types of training techniques companies use to improve associate retention, thus improving their overall operating efficiency.

Orientation training

This type of training introduces the new associate to the organization’s environment comprising of day-to-day functions, products, services, rules and regulations. The purpose of such training is to reduce the nervousness of a new associate by making him/her comfortable and knowledgeable in their new working environment. This type of training is a very critical part of a new associate’s onboarding process. If mishandled, it may speak volumes to the new associate as to the type of organization he or she is joining, which could impact the organization’s ability to retain the associate.

On-the-job training

In this type of training method, a new or less experienced associate is given some kind of instruction or advice from a more experienced associate who may be a supervisor or some kind of special instructor. The success of how much the associate learns depends on how the experienced associate teaches them. Most of the training includes hands-on training, using some type of best-method approach with guidance and support from the skilled or semi-skilled associate observing and helping them along the way.

This one-on-one coaching style creates a relationship between associate and mentor that carries weight beyond training. It also allows the associate to ask questions they may not feel comfortable asking in a group setting. The advantages of this type of training are that associates learn their jobs in on-site, physical conditions as opposed to artificial, lab-like environments. On-site training is less expensive in comparison to other types of training, and it often consumes less time overall. In addition, the new associate learns the necessary rules and regulations while completing the task itself.

eLearning

eLearning is another type of training approach. This type of training relies on online videos, tests and courses to deliver associate training. Associates can train at their desk or company’s designated computer training facility. It is one of the easiest methods used by large companies to reach their larger workforce, especially for those associates who are remote or have high turnover rates. With its interactive tests, videos and activities, it can go a long way towards keeping your employees engaged with training. eLearning also has its own challenges, too. Without a solid instructional design strategy behind it, the graphics and visuals that make eLearning fun can also make it gimmicky or outdated.

How to make your chosen type of training most effective

Many organizations already have training tools but need recommendations on how to improve administration and increase labor efficiency. First, consider this: the more senses that are engaged during training, the higher an organization’s likelihood of employee learning retention. Vary the types of multimedia used in training content. Second, ensure that training is not a burden to associates so they can be open to new ideas. Are associates compensated for, or at minimum, given perks for attending? Organizations can be creative with their available resources. Third, utilize accountability and reward systems. It can be powerful when leaders notice employees trying new skills, and then affirm their efforts. These are only a few ideas. Beyond these, companies looking to develop intensive training curriculums often hire vendors to guide them in their training journey.

In conclusion, there are several training methods available for retailers to improve their retention rate while driving their overall labor efficiency. Time and implementation may differ by each type. These variations are important as the training process depends upon the niche and resources of the organization.