Holiday Season! 5 Ways to Accelerate Training as Staff Strength Surges

The pandemic might have quelled our fascination (?) with large crowds and claustrophobic shopping malls. But has it cut down on our shopping frequency? NO! Surprised? Well, allow our numbers to do the talking.

In the 2020 holiday season, Black Friday online sales hit a new record. “Consumers spent an estimated $9 billion on U.S. retail websites on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online shopping. That was a 22% increase over the previous record of $7.4 billion set in 2019.”

online shopping

Physical store visits have indeed plummeted. However, people are filling up their virtual carts. The biggies like Walmart and Target benefited tremendously from this surge. As per the above report, “Sales at big stores surged by 403% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared to the daily average in October, but sales at smaller retailers also grew by 349%.”

Now, this is just the beginning. Online retailers need to gear up. Why? With the stay-at-home orders in place, we project online sales to grow. In fact, “The Indian E-commerce market is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion as of 2017.” The increase in internet and smartphone penetration has triggered the majority of the growth for the industry.

So What Does This Trend Mean for Retailers?

online shopping holiday season

The holiday season translates to increased online orders. More orders mean more buyers track their packages, place returns or replacements, and call in for refunds and queries. To respond to all of the changes mentioned above, retailers will need to have an agile, responsive, and informed sales team in place. Additionally, companies require to groom their customer service reps and monitor the supply chains + logistics routes.

What’s more? To meet the growing demand, you will also need to hire new employees. While you are responsible for accelerating training for fresh recruits, you also have to ensure that you fine-tune your existing workforce. You do not want your employees to stress out over the high volume of orders, increased calls, and prolonged work hours.

Now, what’s the way out? Support your teams 24×7 and give them all the help they need — to navigate the overwhelming holiday season. However, how do you do that? Let’s dive in!

Accelerate Training and Support Your Workforce in This Holiday Season

Do Not Overwhelm Your New Hires

accelerate training sales reps

To cater to the high demand in the holiday season, employers are on a hiring spree. For instance, UPS announced that it expects to hire 100,000 workers for the peak holiday season in 2020. Target announced that it would employ more than 130,000 seasonal employees, up from 120,000 it hired last year — Source.

Yes, hiring is essential. But are you prepared to equip your new employees with the necessary skills? And that too, within short notice? Do you have the measures in place to groom employees to handle high call volumes, for example? Your sales reps need to fasten the pace of knowledge absorption and application. You do not want a newbie to end a customer call in disaster!

One of the tried and tested methods is to accelerate training delivery with a brief yet comprehensive onboarding program to address the problems mentioned above. A well-designed onboarding program enhances employee retention and engagement and boosts loyalty, compliance, and competence. The result? Happy customers and higher profits!

Create an Ongoing Culture of Learning

learning culture

Time and again, we have reiterated that training is not a one-off! It is essential to foster a spirit of continuous learning in your organisation. Why? If your training is disruptive, it leads to employees absorbing fragments of knowledge. At times, they may not understand what you require of them. You MUST ensure that employees have an end-to-end understanding of products, services, and customer preferences.

You can achieve this by offering a continual learning experience. Help your trainees brush up their existing knowledge, provide career goals, and fine-tune learning paths. You can additionally enforce soft skills training sessions to groom their conversation and interaction skills.

Furthermore, rather than offering the same product knowledge training to every associate, concentrate on targeted, customised learning. It ensures that employees have in-depth information about a particular product — required to help customers. Personalised training makes sure that employees get the relevant information instead of irrelevant data.

Think Micro Learning

microlearning

A practical method to accelerate training during the holiday season is to keep learning short and sweet. Micro-learning comprises brief training modules like short videos or Q&A sessions. You can introduce such sessions just before your employees venture out into the real world. Concise knowledge chunks help learners to retain information and apply it where required.

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Micro modules are highly efficient if you have to deliver new info to your reps. Additionally, microlearning does away with information overload. Therefore, your employees won’t feel overwhelmed. Again, small, focused chunks of content allow your employees to brush up their skills within minutes. Moreover, mobile-optimized micro-learning makes training materials available at their fingertips.

Minimize Compliance Risks

compliance training

When you accelerate training efforts for your recruits, you should also consider that they adhere to legal norms. Therefore, you must make it a point to incorporate compliance training. It is essential to enforce compliance learning sessions, especially when you have a large, remote, and globally scattered workforce.

Penny McNerney, SHRM-SCP, vice president of human resources at Atrium Staffing in New York City, said:

“For example, ‘ban the box’ is useful in more than 150 cities across the country and prohibits asking a candidate about any criminal convictions or arrests.” She additionally explained, “Salary-history bans and equal-pay laws are also effective in many cities and states.” Since legal laws vary from region to region, you must update your employees about these laws.

Reward, Incentivize, and Enable Employees to Realize Their Dreams

reward based training

Both existing and new employees deserve to follow their dreams. They need to believe that they have a future in your organisation. Now, how do you ensure that your workforce reaches its goals? The first step is to accelerate training in a manner that points to a career path within your industry. Upskill your employees so that they can use their knowledge to further their ambition.

Finally, keep them motivated. Incorporate games, leaderboards, or other rewards into your training programs. Gamified learning enhances engagement rates and promotes knowledge development by making training a fun experience. You can use friendly competition to tap into their inclination for rewards and recognition.

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Wrapping it Up

When you prepare for the holiday season, only recruiting new staff is not sufficient. You must make efforts to retain your existing workforce. Moreover, you should train them to cover a wide array of tasks. As explained by Penny McNerney:

“Replacing temporary workers in the middle of a busy holiday season can be quite cumbersome. If your budget allows for it, hiring a few extra temps as seasonal employees may be one of the best ways to ensure you’re always fully staffed. It can also safeguard customer service efforts during the busy holiday selling season, alleviating long lines and waiting times.”

Accelerate training to show that you genuinely intend to help your employees groom their skills. Introduce sessions, which serve as opportunities for cross-training. If you adhere to these quick tips, you can easily navigate the peak holiday season with minimal friction!

Corporate Learning Advisor

Anisha Dutta, our Corporate Learning Advisor, holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and did her master's from IIM Udaipur and Purdue University. She loves working on pieces that require deep research and foresight. Apart from that, she is a voracious reader. Movies, music, and tv shows are the next addiction. Otherwise, she also happens to be an avid traveler, a poet, and an animal lover.

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