Why Effective Grocery Employee Training Can Help Grocery Retailers Overcome Talent Challenges

Why Effective Grocery Employee Training Can Help Grocery Retailers Overcome Talent Challenges blog image

If you work in the grocery retail industry, you know that things have been challenging. Not only have you had to transform operations in the wake of the pandemic, but you’ve also been dealing with new trends that shift the role of your grocery frontline worker. To add to this, executives are making people more of a priority: 40% of grocery CEOs identify talent as a top priority, compared to 25% in 2021. 

McKinsey & Company’s recent research shows that your workforce is moving from physical and manual tasks to more technical, social, and adaptability skills. That means you’re not only dealing with the usual high turnover—you’re also searching for a new kind of talent.

Your grocery employee training must evolve if you’re going to win the war for talent. 

Delivering a Superior Customer Experience

Grocery frontline workers who are trained for simply completing tasks don’t have the skills to deliver a superior customer experience. Yet, this is what customers are demanding of their grocers today. To keep customers happy, you must focus on building loyalty. And that starts with your frontline workers.

Making smart decisions about product substitutions, creating enticing displays, or going the extra mile to let customers know about out-of-stock items are the skills and knowledge that need to be part of your grocery learning and development programs. This means making frontline employee training more of a priority by delivering ongoing training instead of event-based training. 

Your frontline workers need access to reference materials on the job, Google-like search on mobile devices, and learning pathways to see what training is required next. 

Focusing Grocery Frontline Development on Business Objectives

Instead of treating grocery frontline workers like easily replaceable talent, you need to be viewing them as a strategic asset. Connecting your frontline worker to your overall business objectives by reskilling and upskilling employees is a great way to do this. 

Identify key business objectives and look at the kind of skills that will be required to achieve those objectives then invest on redefining those roles for the future. 

One example is Walmart which invested $4 billion in a reskilling program over four years for grocery frontline workers to build basic retail and emotional skills. This kind of initiative signals to potential talent that your company cares about building career opportunities for your frontline workers—which is something today’s talent wants. 

Reducing Employee Turnover

There is still a disconnect between what employees want and what grocery retailers think is important. Grocery frontline workers want to feel valued by their company rather than simply being trained to conduct grocery operations. 

The best and quickest way to demonstrate that you value frontline workers is with a great onboarding experience. 

Failure to engage a new hire on day one could likely mean that the employee won’t stay. Go beyond the basics of new hire paperwork, orientation, processes, and where and how to clock in and clock out. Infuse your brand identity and character into all materials and make onboarding an interactive process. This goes a long way to making grocery frontline workers feel like they’re part of something bigger, and they’ll likely care more about their role in delivering that brand experience to customers.

Also, consider going deeper with “job boarding” in your grocery frontline development by delivering specialized training and knowledge to new employees. You can even allow employees to choose which specialized areas they want to learn more about. Initial job boarding training and ongoing, easy access to knowledge on mobile devices, helps your new employees feel more confident on the job and more like they are part of the culture and team. 

Evolving your grocery employee training is a worthwhile investment that will enable frontline workers to perform better and become integral assets that will help you address and overcome all the challenges your industry is facing right now (and in the future).

Discover how Whole Foods Market transformed team member training with Inkling here.