I don’t think anyone would disagree that training is an essential part of the service industry. The training and professionalism of your employees directly impacts customer satisfaction and loyalty. However, during the recent recession, many businesses cut training from their budgets, and now they are beginning to feel the consequences. Under-trained employees have resulted in lower customer satisfaction, which is affecting the bottom line of many businesses.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2013 Workplace Forecast, there is currently a shortage of skilled/experienced candidates to fill many critical positions. This is due in part to the postponement and elimination of training among employers over the past few years. During the recession, business operators could afford to be less concerned with retention because there were very limited opportunities to find alternative employment. However, these same business leaders are now beginning to feel the pressure to keep employees happy, particularly their top talent. In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA) 2013 Industry Forecast, the restaurant and food service industry will see an increase of 1.3 million jobs over the next 10 years. This will inevitably shrink the available labor pool, increase competition amongst business owners for top talent, and provide fewer experienced candidates to fill key customer-facing positions. According to the Association, operators from all restaurant segments are now boosting their training budgets in an effort to develop their current employees and enhance productivity.
Training employees, however, does not have to be expensive. eLearning courses are becoming more popular, especially within high-growth industries. And now, with the introduction of social learning, which provides a more interactive, engaging learning environment where learners can share information, exchange ideas and knowledge and have discussions, eLearning has evolved beyond the lonely, individual experience. Social learning provides the best of both worlds by combining the ease and reduced costs of eLearning, while adding in the critical element of sharing, discussion, and interaction normally reserved for classroom experiences. In addition, social eLearning can provide the following additional benefits:
1. Vast Course Selections – Social learning academies (shameless self-promotion alert!), such as Schoox, provides an elaborate library of courses to choose from in various subjects, for all types of businesses. Some courses are actually free! You can choose the courses that best fit your business and make them available for your employees. Development of customized courses are also available by uploading your own content. These courses can also be made private so only your employees can view them.
2. Develop Employee Curriculums – Create full curriculums for specific job positions by combining customized and/or available public online courses. Many social learning tools will also give you the option to develop exams to better assess your employees. Once your employees have completed their courses, you can create customized badges and certificates for them. This gives your employees a sense of accomplishment, achievement, and growth.
3. Learning From Peers – Develop topics for discussion boards so your employees can share their experiences and knowledge. You can also create different groups and choose if you want them to be private or public. For example, you can create a private group specifically for your managers which allows them to collaborate with one another, and even share content and files with each other.
4. Provide Training Flexibility – Let your employees take the required online courses during non-working hours and at their leisure. Give them a deadline on course completion, but let them decide what time of day is best for them to complete the courses. Remember, the online social learning environment that you provide is ongoing and just as important (if not more) as the courses.
5. Easily Track Employees Progress and Completion – Using an social learning system will allow you to track your employees progress and completion of courses by providing statistical reports. The reports will analyze total progress, time spent, and test results.
Social learning academies, such as Schoox, can provide an inexpensive, yet effective training environment for employees. With the continual growth of the service industry over the next 10 years, retaining employees is important. Providing employees the tools to grow and learn is instrumental in the success of any business. It will not only increase employee satisfaction, but customer satisfaction as well, and therefore, increase your bottom line.
Jodi Sabol | Marketing Consultant | Red Book Connect