9 ideas for reskilling and onboarding a workforce in flux

Learning and development teams are in firefighting mode right now. Official advice about COVID-19 is updating daily and businesses are having to be more agile. Many are rapidly redeploying staff and some are hiring to fill demand. In these situations and others, organizations are needing to very quickly reskill and onboard people into different roles.

I’ve gathered tips from our team of learning experts to find out their practical ideas to help while you’re firefighting.Reactive training Runner start line

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For some companies, training is the last thing on their minds right now. For others it’s a necessity. 

UK supermarkets including Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have asked Head Office staff to help in store and at distribution centers.  And Morrisons hit the news last week as they kick-off recruitment for 3,000 new drivers to cope with increased demand for delivery. And it’s not just retail. Doctors, for example, are being released from other duties and are being retrained to operate ventilators.  

Rapid onboarding, compliance and health and safety are critical. Not to mention clear on-going communication about updates to policy and the latest guidance on social distancing. L&D needs to be responsive and relevant now more than ever. 

9 low-fi, practical ideas for supporting people on-the-fly

1. Pulse checks and surveys to measure how your employees are feeling and where they might need extra support. There are plenty of free survey tools out there, from Google Forms to Typeform

If you use Elucidat you could include social polls as part of your projects, to show your team they’re not alone. 

2. Curate existing resources. When time is short creating something bespoke isn’t always an option. Source what you can quickly to help your people and pull it together into one place that’s easy to point to and access.

3. Create mini blends.  Give people a set of steps to follow for their new task (i.e. when someone is contracted in or is stepping into another role), then have them practice the steps in pairs or threes (as it is likely that people will be onboarding in groups); or have one person practice while another (with steps in hand) watches and comments before switching. Normal trainers might not be able to get to everyone, so using peer-training with simple guidance might help.

4. Quick competency checks for newly deployed employees.  If you’re re-deploying staff or needing to rapidly onboard new people, like Morrisons, it’s important to have a competency check in place. Do they know the essentials to get the job done, well enough and safely? In times like this you’re probably not looking for excellence – but there will be some fundamentals. Knocking out a quiz in a tool like Survey Monkey can be a quick and dirty way to do this. 

Take inspiration from these compliance training examples and take a “test out” approach to save people time. Then only signpost them to resources they need. If you are an Elucidat user, we’ll happily share any of our ‘giftable’ examples with you as a template to save you time. Just ask our in-app Support team.

5. Job focused videos. Crowdsource quick videos shot with a camera phone to show someone how to perform a job or task in a really concrete, relatable way.

For example “how to restock the veggies”: you follow a real employee going into the back of the store, picking up goods, ticking off inventory, restocking etc. The key thing is to give commentary along the way, for example with hygiene and health and safety tips. You could have a whole suite of videos within a few hours.

6. Create simple checklists (this would be a good complement to the employee generated videos). This can be really helpful when people are beginning to get up and running and need a simple way to check that they’ve done everything necessary. Think about the environment of the role when it comes to distribution. Printing them out so they are highly visible at the point of need would be super helpful for floor staff. For example, you could tape them to the cash register in a store. Or, if your employee accesses a digital environment regularly, have them pinned to there. 

7. Use video to share updates from the top. When you need to communicate updates fast, it’s hard to beat video. Seeing a face from someone senior in the business can be really reassuring. If you’re asking people to step outside of their role, or simply want to provide reassurance – a personal message from the top can go a long way. Tools like Loom make it really quick and easy to produce informal videos. 

8. Capture role specific information so you’re ready to cover. Do you have all roles in your business clearly documented? Would someone be able to step in and pick up where others left off (if they’re off sick for example)? You could create a template or survey to capture role specific information from different groups of employees. This will mean that if you need to quickly arrange cover you’ll have the outline ready to go. 

9. Keep it simple! Only communicate what’s needed in the most simple way. People already have enough change and information to absorb, so keeping things to the bare minimum is a help in itself. Keep resources centrally and accessibly. And know that sometimes just a personalized email or message with clear and direct information is enough!

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