An Employee Confidence & Customer Experience Booster

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.” -Archilochus

How you onboard new employees and prepare them for success drives more than the employee experience (#EX).  The employee experience you create directly impacts the customer experience (#CX) your employees deliver and the bottom line for your business.

A friend recently expressed to me his frustration about some of the employee issues he currently faces.  Michael owns a small business and manages others, and not only is it difficult to recruit new employees, but he also often has trouble getting his current team – especially new team members – to perform various assignments in the manner he expects.  I asked a few questions to see if I could help discern a solution.  After all, helping organizations find solutions to their problems is in our DNA here at Real Blue Sky.

It soon became apparent to me what part of the issue is.  Michael’s company doesn’t have a system in place for training beyond what happens the first few days on the job.  Further, following mostly on-the-job training, employees have no reference points for many of their job duties to support them in delivering consistently on job expectations.

Speaking of training, I was recently reminded that the average employee forgets over 65% of the material covered in a training session within a week!  Some studies suggest even lower new-content training retention over time.  And according to The Gartner Group, 70% of employees report they don’t have the mastery of skills needed to perform their jobs.

“Have you ever heard of job aids?” I asked Michael.  He shook his head. “No. Is that like a job description?”

I quickly explained the concept.  A job aid covers one specific job function.  It could be something as simple as how to arm the building alarm system at the end of the day.  Have you ever seen one of your employees use a bunch of sticky notes on their computer as reminders or prompts?  In a way, they are creating their own form of a job aid.

Job aids give your employees the right information exactly when & where they need it.  Job aids can be a step-by-step guide, a checklist, a decision matrix, or even a brief procedures guide.  A job aid can be a printable document.  However, depending on the task at hand, you could also create a poster, a video, or even an app.

Now intrigued, Michael commented, “That would be a great help, especially on those tasks that multiple people do.  Maybe that would make it so everyone does things in a more uniform way.”

He was exactly right.  One huge benefit to creating a job aid is to streamline the way tasks are carried out, following the same best practice.  That way, if you have several different employees who have a task in common, they will more likely be set up for success to do so in a consistent manner — and more importantly, if someone else needs to step in and take care of it while an employee is out, there’s a reference guide for doing so.  These simple reference tools can help improve employee confidence on the job.  And ultimately, this will also tend to result in better customer experiences.

I also walked him through some samples that we have developed at Real Blue Sky.  Not too long after our conversation, he called me up to say thanks.  He’d taken a few key tasks that several employees had in common and created job aids for those tasks.

Even better, now that he has those job aids created, he will be able to use them when new employees come on board.  Once they have some initial training, they will now have a tangible job aid they can reference for specific tasks.  It will help reduce mistakes, boost employee confidence, and ensure that everyone on staff does things in a similar fashion.

If you are thinking of designing some job aids for your employees, here are a few things to consider:

  • Remember that job aids are not training. Job aids support training by providing essential information in an accessible format.  They may be used as a collateral material to augment training.
  • Keep it simple. Focus the job aid on one specific activity.  The job aid is a reference tool for that activity, not a full reference manual.  Stay centered on only the information needed and highly relevant to the task at hand.
  • Get manager buy-in and employees’ input on the information and design to be sure the process is not only accurate, but makes use of employees’ best practices.
  • Include thorough, understandable copy and informative visuals in your job aid. Use callouts to identify nuances or common examples.
  • Take note of the environment in which employees will use the job aid. For example, if the job aid will be used outside, you might want to offer it is a laminated card or sheet.  Be intentional about using key search words if you will post the job aid to your collaboration platform.

Does your company use job aids?  At Real Blue Sky, we see a lot of value in taking the time to create them.  In fact, this is part of the services we offer organizations we work with — and they have found them to be real game changers.