Create stickier retail safety and security training

The effectiveness of a retailer’s training is tested daily on how staff handle conflict with customers, the form they use to lift heavy boxes or if they click on an unfamiliar attachment to a customer. E-mail. There is no guarantee that associates will always remember their training – or that they will comply 100% with the guidelines – but are there ways to improve your chances?

Kroger tries to do this by offering shorter, more frequent instructions and injecting some fun into them, hoping that translates into better engagement. The program, Fresh Start, uses a platform from training company Axonify, which allows associates to access personalized training through an app. Through gamification, instruction is tailored to an associate’s needs and knowledge gaps and takes just five minutes per shift.

Senchal Murphy
Senchal Murphy

Senchal Murphy, senior director of training and integration at Kroger, said Kroger’s goal is to “deliver a more personalized digital experience for associates through focused, small-scale training that enables them to learn. and grow in a fun and engaging way ”. On-demand and role-specific training and resources are complemented by training in leadership and career development and on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Carol Leaman, co-founder and CEO of Axonify, said the platform enables companies to move “from a one-stop training approach to a continuous, personalized model focused on providing associates with the knowledge they need to succeed in their roles. current and future “.

Kroger’s new training initiative is a key part of a larger investment in frontline workers, which the company says is designed to help them “feel more informed and connected to the goals of the organization. and to create an environment where they can flourish and progress ”.

Principles of education

Training is a critical part of creating engaged employees, and experts say that no matter how it is delivered, through technology or in person, content needs to be developed with one truth in mind. obvious but often forgotten that LP staff and retail associates are not. t children.

Training children and adults are two very different disciplines, according to training experts. Safety presentations may sometimes want to follow the principles of child rearing – when teaching a completely new concept to LP staff, for example – but it is usually smarter to employ andragogy, which refers to the methods and principles used in adult education. Compare the differences between the methods in five main ways:

  1. Must know. In the traditional educational model, the teacher decides what the learner needs to know and the learner usually believes it. In the adult world, learners are more critical and ask, “Why do I need to know?
  2. Self concept. In the traditional educational model, the knowledge and experience of the teacher is the source of success. Equally important when teaching adults is that the learners do not come to the training as a “blank page”.
  3. To live. First-time learners come with fewer barriers to the learning process, but in adult education, workers’ past school experience colors their approach to their current training. A security guard who has had difficulty in school may approach security training with apprehension by following traditional pedagogy.
  4. Ready to learn. With children, teachers can tell students what to learn. With adults, learners need to recognize that learning is to their advantage.
  5. Motivation. External motivation is successful with young learners, but internal motivation is usually the only way to get adults to learn to their fullest potential.

Best practices of training experts

The differences were often pointed out at a conference on best practices in safety education, training and communication. A keynote speaker said workers have a “knowledge backpack” that needs to be adapted. Another described it as “baggage” with less enthusiasm. Whatever name you give it, training loss prevention staff (or general associates on safety issues) requires an appreciation of what workers bring with them when training.

The training experts made several suggestions. The main one was to make the existing knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of workers the very foundation of any training program developed by a retailer. “Use your audience to guide your training” was the mantra of the conference.

Any organization that trains adult workers must go beyond the teacher-student dynamic in training presentations, and this always applies when the information is “for their own good” or is an explanation of strict rules, have warned the training experts.

Security issues often leave no room for debate: a security policy is a security policy, after all. Nonetheless, safety education cannot simply be a list of dos and don’ts in traditional education mode. Even then, adults will disconnect unless the training follows the principles of adult education.

Concrete example: training on violence at work. Managers could give store associates a 30-minute lecture on what to look for, what to do in an emergency, and recite the policies and procedures to follow, then test at the end to see if they’ve held up. Lesson. But following this model of education – one based solely on telling workers what they need to know – has inherent problems. Experts say it would be more meaningful to also get associates to share their own experiences, develop role-play exercises, and explain how each safety procedure will make them safer in the workplace.

Put into practice

How can a retailer better align training programs with the principles of adult education in order to improve the effectiveness of training? Here are the suggestions for six presentations by safety training researchers at the Best Practices Conference:

  • Create a “need to know” and make the training seem applicable and not theoretical. Adults have little patience for “learning to learn”. Show workers every step of the way in the training process how the information you provide them applies to them in their day-to-day jobs and how it can affect them. In teaching cybersecurity awareness, for example, retail horror stories of how information security breaches led to layoffs might help workers see the connection.
  • Demonstrate respect for knowledge workers and incorporate their diversity of knowledge into training. For example, during the LP Agent Refresher Training in Stores on Managing Shoplifting Incidents, have the agents share their own experiences and then develop solutions as a group to manage them in the best possible way.
  • Respect the fact that some staff may not have had positive school experiences. Announcing that learning will be judged during post-training testing may delay learning for officers or staff who have had problems at school. Instead, training should have multiple means of assessing whether employees understand the material, through games, role plays, oral questions, or other means.
  • Incorporate new technology. Training doesn’t need bells and whistles to be effective, trainers say, but training should reflect new tools as they become available. It’s not uncommon for training programs to be put on autopilot, resulting in the same sexual harassment video playing for decades, experts warn.
  • Reflect cultural and demographic changes. Compared to ten years ago, today’s employees speak differently, react to different images and have different cultural references. Any security training requires an occasional update to reflect these changes in order to remain meaningful.
  • Take the time to learn about your target audiences. What are their personal beliefs? What are the barriers to behavior change? Then target your security awareness activities with these standards and beliefs in mind.
  • Don’t train by thinking about employee “actions” alone. You can get positive results with training focused on changing worker actions, but those improvements are usually “springy,” the experts said. For example, berating employees for not wearing ID badges can lift compliance, but it’s often temporary. Training can instill a more permanent change when it is designed to affect the work habits and culture of workers. When security is anchored in this way, ID badge compliance can improve continuously rather than decline after an accent program ends.
  • Use logical arguments whenever possible. Security teams can try to affect unwanted behavior, such as allowing piggybacking in restricted areas, in a variety of ways, including corruption, threats, or emotional calls. But the logical arguments have proven to be more robust over time in research studies, according to experts. If workers accept the logic of a certain behavior, they will be more likely to display it in six months. Coercing workers with rewards or the threat of punishment and bad behavior is likely to return in time.


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