Digital signage can be as simple as a continuous running PowerPoint or using customized graphics and animations. Companies may choose to include more complex information that is driven by real-time data specific to each location’s key performance metrics. In order for the program to be successful someone must “own” the program ensuring it communicates key messages and content is always up to date.
Additional strategies for digital signage include using both corporate managed messages and local, valued information. Messages may display customer feedback, success with in-store promotions, or peer-to-peer rankings on training and performance. Digital signage is also a great medium for sharing birthdays, other milestones, and recognition of exemplary performance to reinforce a connection between the store and its employees.
One major wholesale retailer implemented digital signage to improve OSHA incident rates. The retailer used scorecards and reporting loops giving employees insight into near misses and safety hazards before they became statistics. Their employees are now half as likely to get injured as they were before implementing this program. They’ve also achieved significant savings on medical claims, worker’s comp premiums, and lost work time.
Augmented Reality—The Future of Immersive Training
Perhaps the most exciting advancement in the digital training world is augmented reality (AR). AR uses a digital device, such as a tablet, to overlay interactive video content into real-world scenarios. The process happens in real time so the user becomes completely immersed in their learning experience.
Some stores have begun developing customized AR solutions to help them to successfully onboard employees. Using the device’s built-in camera, trainees trigger interactions with specific checkpoints throughout the restaurant, warehouse, or grocery store. These checkpoints launch enhanced computer generated imagery (CGI) so that trainees can interact with their surroundings like they never have before. Part of what trainees see is a real-time camera generated image of the store; the other part is an artificial CGI demonstrating a training concept. The virtual scenes illustrate learning objectives in context, on location, and in the employee’s hands.
AR helps food companies to educate employees on what to do when issues arise by providing a digitally simulated, first-hand experience of how to react. Stores may upload virtual food safety, workplace safety, and customer interactions to aid in coaching employees through desired behaviors. Stores that invest in AR incorporate comprehension testing by working exercises into the employee’s experience.
New AR technology debuted at FMI Connect in March of 2015 that has the potential to take AR training to the next level. This virtual reality based training technology was developed by Alchemy Systems’ Awareness team, which is working to roll out AR training for a few major retailers this year. The technology is currently in development stages for food service.
Trends show that technology will drive employee performance and engagement through 2016 and beyond. Technology enables food industry establishments to take a data driven approach to closing knowledge gap, and improve employee performance. To keep up with preferred modes of communication, it’s time for companies to seriously look at how to develop a strategy for taking training “digital” in the year ahead.
Holland has over 25 years of experience in developing training, communication, and productivity solutions for the restaurant and retail industry at his company Frameworks (acquired by Alchemy in March 2015). Reach him at email@example.com. Lang, as a product manager for Alchemy, works to develop customized solutions for large retailers ensuring corporate culture fits both the needs of the company and its associates. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.