The Big Picture: L&D Philosophies for Retail Training
Loren Learny | 5 min read
We know engaged learning delivers better results, but achieving this with all learners can be a challenge. Continuous learning is vital in the retail business, as commerce and technology evolve quickly. Developing a robust learning and development (L&D) program promotes a healthy learning culture, establishes a learning ethic, and serves to remind employees they are a valued investment.
The real goal of L&D is long-term growth. While skills training improves short-term performance, development addresses the desire for career advancement and meets the expectations of today’s retail talent pool, who are looking for workplaces they find engaging, rewarding, and committed to their growth.
The value of L&D
A solid L&D program is a desirable perk in today’s job market — and it’s not just beneficial for job seekers. It also provides enormous value to your business. Among its many benefits, L&D:
- Increases retention. With retail turnover rates hovering near 60%, retention is critical to your plan to thrive. L&D opportunities increase motivation and engagement and provide employees with a strong incentive to stay with your company. Considering the time and money involved in hiring and onboarding retail staff, retention efforts are a significant bottom line investment.
- Attracts new talent. Today’s retail workers have more choices than ever about where to work, so making your organization a desirable workplace is vital. A workplace where they can learn and grow is important to 60% of millennials. Meeting their expectations reinforces your company’s reputation as a responsible and committed employer and builds loyalty in your workforce.
- Creates opportunities for internal promotion. Promoting staff from within is much more profitable than hiring and training new workers. Having already learned the lay of the land at work, retail employees who engage in L&D programs increase their workplace value and transition to new positions with more ease and confidence.
- Establishes a reusable knowledge base. Once developed, your company’s L&D material can be reused, updated, and expanded as learning needs change. A well-structured, easily accessible knowledge base is easy for new hires to use, offers quick answers, and can be adapted to meet the needs of every learning style.
- Fosters team building and communication. Retail relies on teamwork. Ongoing feedback and discussions about learning topics support clear communication among team members. Comprehensive and accessible L&D material gets new members up to speed quickly and gives everyone a consistent base of understanding to consult when questions and concerns arise.
LMS for L&D
Understanding the benefits of a good L&D program is important, but the options for implementing it can seem overwhelming. Incorporate a learning management system (LMS) to simplify training and consolidate learning material. An LMS — a software application for delivering, administering, and documenting your learning program — offers convenient and adaptable programming for all learners. It allows your L&D program coordinator to design programs to fit your company’s needs and those of your employees. An LMS serves as the center of your eLearning environment and offers different tools and materials for all styles of learning.
An LMS allows everyone in your organization, across multiple locations, to access all the tools they need to complete training from a single source, including all onboarding and position specific information, assessments, quizzes, practice and review sessions, regulatory rules, and documentation. Properly designed, it will operate on mobile devices for availability at point of service for questions that arise during the business day. It offers several ways to learn and assess comprehension. Retail workers need to learn quickly and on the go, and a flexible LMS can incorporate microlearning modules, continuous learning tools, and scenario training. eLearning fits perfectly into the fast-moving, often unpredictable world of retail in 2022 and beyond.
VR for the workplace
There are several new L&D tools and applications available for retail training. Some companies are incorporating VR to provide high-quality training for specific situations employees are likely to encounter. The best time to learn how to handle an irate customer is before the customer is standing in front of the employee. With an immersive VR program, workers can virtually “interact” with a variety of scenarios to increase their efficacy and confidence when real-life issues arise.
VR is already common in law enforcement training programs, where it helps to prevent injuries in the field. This type of low-risk training is also helpful in other fields, such as healthcare, where minor mistakes can have serious consequences. And in retail, where challenging customers are a common and significant concern, VR offers employees choices in behavior, methods of handling conflict professionally, and practice in doing so.
Retail giant Walmart has been training employees using VR for several years. While VR is perfect for hard skills, Walmart’s newest VR training focuses on soft skills — keeping calm, practicing intentional listening, and working out appropriate solutions with customers and clients. We know that learning by doing is most effective, but VR and other eLearning methods allow employees to learn in engaging ways specific to the needs of your business and your employees.