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Five Predictions That Will Change Employee Training in 2023

By Holly Mockus   |   

In the last several years of global challenges, manufacturers have been forced to bounce from one extreme to another to train employees, making it difficult to plan curriculums and apply effective teaching techniques.

During the pandemic, remote training or small spread-out group sessions became the norm while manufacturers tried to keep their frontline workers safe and up to speed. Nearly every company had to expand training to cover basic hygiene and other precautions to keep employees safe from COVID. 

Labor shortages inspired cross-training programs to keep employees engaged and on the job. And nearly everyone looked for ways to cut costs and gain efficiencies during painfully high levels of inflation and continued kinks in the global supply chain.

Looking ahead to the new year, we expect many of these challenges to linger on for months while the food industry grapples with new regulations and increased oversight. Given all that, here are five areas that I predict will alter the way manufacturers train employees. Ask me again in six months, and I might have a different answer for you.

1.  Group-based Training Makes a Comeback 
As we slowly worked our way through the pandemic with e-learning, I think many people thought group learning had become a thing of the past. But now we’re discovering that while e-learning helped us get the job done during a difficult period, many in-person training benefits were sacrificed.

There’s no replacing the experience of group-based training, where employees can ask questions to a live presenter and share feedback with other employees. There’s also the benefit of live facilitators being able to gauge whether or not an employee actually understands the training material.

Group-based training returns the personal touch of the one-on-one learning experience and inspires group discussions. It can always be helped with e-Learning options. But it can never be replaced. When we’re together, we’re all smarter than we are by ourselves. I think many companies are realizing the value of bringing people together again for training.

2.  Storytelling Will Re-engage Employees
The process of training by telling employees to follow procedures doesn’t work well with today’s workforce that seeks a sense of belonging and relevance. Storytelling will gain further popularity with scenario-based questions and decision points that help learners think while completing courses.

Storytelling helps the learner digest and process information more efficiently. It gives their brain a practical way to apply that information to a scenario they may encounter in their work environment. Storytelling is much more relatable and memorable. I think it’s already taking hold as the next level of learning, especially for adults.

3.  Employee Wellness Will Take Center Stage
As manufacturers continue to struggle with a national labor shortage, many have come to value their employees as people instead of mere resources.  And they are adding employee wellness programs to enhance their work environments. The Future of Work HR sentiment survey found that 68% of senior leaders rated employee well-being and mental health as priorities.

Manufacturers will likely increase their investments in wellness programs including training as part of an overall HR effort to combat employee burnout, improve social well-being and reduce stress. In addition, they’ll provide more leadership skills development training to teach managers and supervisors how to properly interact with employees. All these efforts will be needed to help attract and retain employees in 2023.

4. Lean Will Be Huge
Lean manufacturing will become critical for manufacturers to combat inflation and adjust to labor constraints. Lean manufacturing helps build efficiencies by eliminating waste – not people. We’ve heard of companies saving up to one and a half times the costs of goods manufactured annually by implementing these programs.

Lean manufacturing can help identify cost and capacity improvements. It will impact turnover by getting people engaged. The cost savings can be invested in employee training, which offers many benefits, including employee productivity, satisfaction, upper mobility, and retention.

5. Traceability Training Will Be in High Demand
With the new FDA proposal for food traceability record-keeping requirements, employees will have to be retrained on recording data from the beginning to the end of their production efforts. 

The new rules are a radical shift in data management and tracking for ingredients and products. New training programs will have to be created, and many programs will be changed to meet the traceability rules. This will be a huge endeavor for every company that produces food products. Employees will need to understand the importance of documentation during their everyday operations. 

These are all five changes that I see happening in the course of 2023, based on my 40 years of experience in the food industry. Of course, we’re here to help you with a wide range of training materials and consultants in any of these areas. Contact us to help you get your year off to a great start.

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