For quite some time now, the phrase ‘new normal’ has become commonplace. It’s a new term which perfectly encapsulates how our lives were changed since the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Operations have become increasingly remote, social interactions have reduced and many businesses have taken a cautious approach towards in-person trainings.
Rapidly identifying which shifts in activities, behaviour and skills were needed to drive the greatest value – not only for employees but in meeting customer expectations was a challenge for most organizations. And the aftermarket industry was no exception. Even before the pandemic, advancing technologies, automation, artificial intelligence and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees needed to do them.
Although developing capabilities and upskilling workers has always been a need, this unexpected change was the catalyst needed to rethink how we can develop and train our people while strengthening organizational capabilities and culture when we simply cannot get together in person.
It meant adopting and implementing digital technologies and scaling approaches quicker than originally anticipated. It also meant getting more creative and flexible in order to mitigate the potential risk of becoming stuck in the traditional methods of operation and maintaining pre-pandemic momentum. To meet this challenge, Fix Network had to develop a strategy that maximized on employees’ digital and cognitive capabilities along with their ability to adapt and be resilient.
Using the skills of our National Trainers and Experience Designers and capitalizing on our Learning Management System (LMS), we were able to accelerate the adoption of digitized approaches to re-create the best of our in-person learning. As we re-imagined and ramped up our learning model, we dug deeper into understanding the workforce and the core activities and skills they needed to meet ongoing changes.
We developed learning journeys that deepened the skills of critical roles while improving virtual sessions. We established social-sharing tools and a video library to ensure training continued and that skill building was a key strategic lever for adapting to the new normal and surviving a fiercely competitive climate.
Creating an ecosystem within our LMS of learning partners including vendors, suppliers and industry experts, allowed us to produce and deliver content rapidly to the entire network. Curating content online allowed for cross-training in specific functions and roles to avoid service disruption. The LMS made it possible to scale learning efforts in a more cost-effective way and permit greater personalization for learners – enabling staff to carry on their professional development without disruption.
The challenge remains on getting learning to the employee in a ‘just in time’ manner and this is where technology has assisted in scaling learning opportunities while keeping costs down through virtual online sessions and self-paced programs.
As we began to normalize virtual and online training, we continue to train our workers with practical techniques and new repair methods in- person. Using Fix Network’s three training centres in Canada-– Milton (Ontario), Blainville (Quebec) and Calgary (Alberta) – featuring dedicated spaces for collision, glass and mechanical training, we have been able to host high-demand I-CAR classes and develop internally much needed courses on estimation and aluminum dent repair that are often difficult to source in the industry. This was done keeping social-distancing and safety protocols in place.
With the priority being clear: maintain employee engagement, ensure all workers continue to build their skill and keep up with market changes, the need to shift the workplace training has not been simply a way to get through the pandemic, but a way in how we will train into the future.