It’s time for a digital workforce transformation. Modern manufacturers have to juggle evolving expectations for workplace flexibility, pay, career paths and benefits. They also have to take into account the changes in the ways employees learn and access information. The most obvious example of this is how employees turn to their smartphones – whether for a just-in-time answer to an unexpected problem or as a replacement for traditional training and development channels.
“Today’s employees are overwhelmed, distracted and impatient. Flexibility in where and how they learn is increasingly important ... And they’re taking more control over their own development.”
-Josh Bersin, author of Deloitte’s Meet the Modern Learner [opens PDF]
The digital transformation of your workforce is similar in many ways to the digitization of your manufacturing operations. Easy access to information when and where it is needed saves time and money. We have learned from our work here at the Oregon MEP (OMEP) that the benefits of going digital with training will help you:
Digitizing your workforce – from onboarding to standard work training and career development – is similar in many ways to changing initiatives in your operation or supply chain. Keys for a successful workforce transformation are:
Transformation is not an event – it’s a journey. The world continues to evolve, and so do people, so there must be continuous improvement to keep up or get ahead. Without learning and transformation, your company could become irrelevant to the local workforce as well as to your customers.
The newest generation in the workforce demands more personalization in their career journey, and employers should be ready to change as needed to match these wants. Deloitte points out that employees spend only 1% of a typical workweek focused on training and development. This means every training minute needs to be robust and keep up with current trends. This strengthens the case for a digital approach to training and development to provide maximum flexibility.
We’ve learned that there are four keys to training that result in a digital workforce transformation:
Also keep in mind that people have different learning styles – some prefer visual learning, others do best by listening, reading or writing, and still others learn best with a hands-on approach.
As an example, one way we introduce manufacturing principles of one-piece flow versus batch production is through a hands-on exercise where participants build a small truck with toy bricks. When training on a standard work instruction, learners get step-by-step instructions with illustrations, and a short video showing how it all comes together. Combined, we significantly increase understanding and reduce time to proficiency.
A digital approach to training is more versatile, makes it easier to update materials, and removes the need for binders that often get misplaced or worn out. Most employees are comfortable using smartphones and QR codes. Some organizations do have guidelines on the use and creation of QR codes, so it is always best to check with your company’s IT/security team before going “all in”. Your digital approach to training could include:
You can use a document management system to help manage and deploy changes. A digital approach also makes it easier to provide a consistent look and feel to the learner. Anything with a QR code can also be printed or exported.
One company got started by shooting smartphone videos that showed machine operators performing a task and describing what they were doing in the process. A video editor combined video clips, audio and screen grabs to capture institutional knowledge and create standard work instructions and training materials.
There are some infrastructure needs to consider. Be sure to account for:
A digital workforce transformation includes more than training and standard work instructions. You can use QR codes on business cards and in other ways to help with your recruiting efforts and promote the company and your workplace culture.
Some examples of how a digital approach will benefit your workforce:
There are many additional occasional job functions that can be explained via QR codes, such as videos and quick reference guides that describe how to unpack and assemble machines for installers and customers.
The MEP National NetworkTM has a holistic suite of workforce development services that are tailored to the needs of smaller manufacturers. Contact your local MEP Center to talk with a workforce specialist about how to begin your digital workforce transformation.