The following guest post is from our board member, David Creelman. We’ve written about the challenges of hiring and training frontline workers here before. Realistic job previews and evidence-based pre-employment assessment are a couple of strategies for ensuring you make the right hires. Articulating required soft skill competencies and training for them has been a recipe for success at Safelite AutoGlass. Read on for David’s thoughts on the subject.
We know we have to train hourly workers about the job whether it be food preparation, how to use a point-of-sale system or how to operate a machine. That stuff is essential, but it may not be what hourly workers need most. What they need most may be skills hiring managers assume they learned long ago, skills like showing up on time, not yelling at customers, and not partying all night on a work day.
Professionals may take basic life skills for granted and simply write off people who don’t have them. However, paying attention to these basic employability gaps and providing appropriate training can improve worker performance and open up an overlooked portion of the labor market.
India is probably ahead of the curve here where the concept of ‘last-mile employability’ is well established (see for example the work of Professor Vijay Govindarajan). In the US, Charles Duhigg’s entertaining book The Power of Habit discusses Starbuck’s successful efforts to teach employees basic skills in self-discipline. If it works for Starbucks, it can work for your firm too.
The bottom line: meet with your front line managers to ferret out the life skills that are interfering with the performance of the workforce. Then put in well-thought out programs to develop those skills. These simple overlooked skills could be the bottleneck in the way of improved performance.2