Magazine article Talent Development

Swapping Training Delivery for Knowledge Building: A Retailer Transforms Its Approach to Improving Associates' Behavior

Magazine article Talent Development

Swapping Training Delivery for Knowledge Building: A Retailer Transforms Its Approach to Improving Associates' Behavior

Article excerpt

Customer expectations are higher than they've ever been in the retail space: Competition is fierce, employee turnover continues to rise, and, as I'm experiencing in my world, keeping people and property safe is a never-ending battle. In retail, we expect our people to take the right actions on the job, but there are gaping holes around associate knowledge that are costing our industry billions of dollars a year.

Traditional training approaches weren't working

Before 2012, Bloomingdale's was following the same standard approaches to loss prevention and safety training that all retail organizations were using at the time (and continue to use today): posters, classroom training, huddles, and pre-shift morning rallies. But those methods just weren't cutting it.

The topic of safe work practices wasn't inviting excitement and rapt attention from our associates. We were struggling to provide consistent training across stores. And we couldn't identify which associates understood the information and how to apply it correctly, particularly because we were dealing with thousands of employees. That meant we weren't able to pinpoint how to help our associates adopt the correct on-the-job behaviors so we could improve our numbers.

As I contemplated those challenges, I had a sudden moment of realization: We were focused on the wrong thing. We were simply delivering associate training, when we should have been building associate knowledge. We live in a world of information overload, and throwing traditional check-the-box training at associates was not going to get them to become more knowledgeable, nor was it going to give them what they needed to consistently do the right thing (such as following proper safety procedures).

Taking a modern approach to building associate knowledge

I knew Bloomingdale's needed to find a better way to train associates around safety if we were going to continue to raise our standards. But, I really had no idea if I could find a tool to help me transform my vision into something tangible.

Luckily, during a chance meeting, I was introduced to Axonify and I realized it was exactly what I needed. Its Employee Knowledge Platform helps build the knowledge employees need in a fun, engaging, gamified way, so they can perform more effectively at work. It also personalizes learning to focus on areas where knowledge isn't as strong. That helps increase employees' expertise in the right areas and builds their confidence, so they can perform their role to the best of their ability. And because employees take the correct actions on the job, it ultimately drives business results across the organization.

A shift from a traditional check-the-box mentality to instilling knowledge in an ongoing manner was not going to be easy. However, with the help of Axonify, Bloomingdale's has taken a massive leap forward. We've been able to increase associate knowledge dramatically around safety practices and improve associate behavior as a result. In fact, the Employee Knowledge Platform has enabled us to reduce safety claims by 41 percent and save a total of $10 million since implementation.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Four steps to success

Here's how we were able to elevate our training and achieve such tremendous success:

We integrated training into each shift without taking associates off the floor. …

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