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Frontline workers’ training still reduced from pandemic

Many frontline workers who had their training reduced or moved online during the pandemic have not seen it recover.

Research by training software company Cloud Assess found over a quarter (26%) of UK desk-less workers had been offered fewer training opportunities since the pandemic, and a further 11% said their employer had stopped all training.

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More than a quarter (28%) said more of their training was now given online, with 11% saying training had moved entirely online.

Yet the move to online training has proved extremely unpopular, with 85% of those undertaking more online training saying it had had a negative impact on them, with four in 10 (39%) saying it was boring, and a third calling it a tick-box exercise (34%).

Rob Bright, founder and CEO at Cloud Assess told HR magazine that it was clear many industries were still far from full recovery.

He said: “Alternative processes, first adopted to withstand the effects of lockdowns, are now having a detrimental impact on operations and staff morale across a host of critical desk-less industries, such as manufacturing, construction and retail.”

More than a third (37%) of desk-less workers said their employee experience was worse than it had been before the pandemic.

“With the skills crisis affecting almost all industries, it’s no surprise that staff shortages was the most common reason given for this. Perhaps more concerningly, however, is ‘less in-person training’ which came in a close second as a reason for disengagement.

Just 18% of workers felt that online training made them better at their job.

“Effective training has a monumental impact on all aspects of a business, including safety, quality, productivity, compliance, and, crucially, employee retention and satisfaction.

Employee satisfaction and engagement are key indicators of the efficacy of training, so it’s vital that employers listen up when their staff express disappointment.”

There is a clear need to re-engage workers with training, according to Ian Luxford, learning and engagement specialist at consultancy The Motivation Agency.

He told HR magazine: “Making this happen is not about defaulting to any one delivery method, and it is certainly not about how much money is spent. It is about using the best right ways to help people learn, and making them compelling, relevant and meaningful.”

While there are some topics that can be learned equally well online and face-to-face, employers need to look closely at the circumstances and experience of the learners, he said.

Luxford added: “When people meet together at the same time, in the same room, this provides an experience which is not fully replicable in a virtual event. The spontaneous side conversations that happen when people are together on a course can contribute massively to their learning. All methods have their unique features like this.

“To ensure that employees are engaged with the learning experience, employers must consider the delivery methods used; if moving to virtual delivery saves money at the expense of effective learning, it is clearly a false economy.”