What Is On-Demand Training, and Why Does It Matter?

By: Bob Paulsen on February 23, 2016

What Is On-Demand Training, and Why Does It Matter?

Here’s a reality that restaurants know all too well: Well-trained employees are more productive, more reliable, and more long-term than inadequately trained employees. Therefore, workers with a wide range of skills within their jobs—and not merely the skills they were initially trained for—will further engage, thus becoming a greater asset to the company.

Yet, there is only so much training a restaurant (or any business, for that matter) can provide to an employee. According to research by the Society for Human Resources Management, only 42 percent of American companies offer any sort of cross-training to employees for skills not directly related to their jobs. A common strategy is to teach workers the essentials and hope they pick up on the rest, but this often falls short of expectations, especially if an employee must learn a process on the fly and there’s no resource for him or her find that knowledge.

Enter on-demand training, which gives employees access to the skills they seek at a time and place that’s best. This is a great option for companies that otherwise feel they aren’t teaching their workforce as much as they could. Here are some reasons why on-demand training matters in today’s business environment:

The Limits of Shoulder-to-Shoulder Training

Shoulder-to-shoulder training—one employee live-demonstrating a skill to another employee —is often the best way to learn in a restaurant environment. However, the amount of this kind of training a new hire receives is not unlimited—usually, no more than 4-8 hours—simply because coworkers and managers can’t be pulled away from their duties to train others. As a result, after those initial hours, employees are on their own. Moreover, the employees teaching might not know every process, or even know them wrong and impart that incorrect “wisdom” to others. Exclusive shoulder-to-shoulder training is great in theory, but most trainers know, it’s practically impossible.

On-Demand Training, in a Nutshell

On-demand training picks up where shoulder-to-shoulder training leaves off. Because many companies don’t mandate any sort of training beyond the initial onboarding, employees who want to learn more often have no means to do so. However, if a library of training content were made available to them, they wouldn’t need to rely on coworkers or just “winging it.” On-demand training provides and maintains that content.

Access to Skills and Procedures

Some of the processes an employee would want to learn might already be in the restaurant—in the form of a training manual housed in a three-ring binder. How often the binder is actually consulted (even in an emergency) is another issue, especially with millennial employees who need instant information. Mobile training and operations technology has emerged that takes the printed manuals completely out of the picture. Employees use tablets to access training content, then can take those tablets anywhere in the restaurant that’s convenient or makes the most sense. And the content can span every procedure imaginable and be as varied as audio and video to interactive presentations.

Engagement and Empowerment

Granted, not every employee is going to take the initiative to learn how to clean the walk-in freezer or change the syrup in the soda machine—that’s just the nature of the restaurant business. However, if an employee does want to learn those things (or must learn out of necessity), he or she should be supported in that effort, because success breeds engagement, and engaged workers generally work harder and stay longer. Empower your employees via on-demand training, and you’ll discover they will empower you right back.

How has on-demand training helped your company?

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