November 28, 2020

Lacklustre training leaves grocery staff underprepared to perform during the pandemic, research from Axonify reveals

A lack of training has left frontline grocery staff underprepared to perform during the pandemic, research from the latest report from Axonify, the modern training and communications solution for frontline associates, has revealed.

Original research of over 2,000 frontline workers in its ‘The State of Frontline Employee Training 2020’ report showed that while 84% of UK supermarket associates have confidence in their own ability to do their job effectively, two fifths (40%) said they felt underprepared to perform their role in the current environment – 5% higher than frontline workers in other non-essential retail businesses – with insufficient training proving a key factor.    

Despite 58% of UK supermarket workers saying they have received the training needed to perform effectively, nearly two thirds (61%) felt the training they had received had not been personalised to their skills, and 15% felt the training lacked personalisation and didn’t cater towards their experience.

During the pandemic, frontline grocery staff have had to navigate constantly shifting guidance on keeping colleagues and customers safe in-store – from policing panic buying, occupancy levels and the wearing of mandatory face coverings, to new cleaning routines and changing procedures on delivering CX at a safe distance.  However, the report showed that just two fifths (19%) of UK supermarket workers that took on new tasks or job roles during the pandemic received related training and more than one in ten (12%) felt their employer hadn’t taken action to keep them safe as they continued to work through the pandemic.

Despite social distancing requirements, in person or face-to-face training proved key for 60% of UK grocery associates when it came to their ongoing training preferences, however there is also a demand for real-time digital communications and mobile training. 40% of UK supermarket staff want access to training via their own personal device and a further quarter (24%) said they would be more engaged with training if it was delivered via this method.

Carol Leaman, CEO and Co-Founder of Axonify, commented: “The frontline workforce has felt the full force of the impact of the global pandemic – but the grocery frontline has had to show even more resilience than most to keep their doors open and continue to serve communities in the darkest days of the pandemic, when many other non-essential businesses were forced to close.  But what the impact of the pandemic has shown is that training and support is needed now more than ever, if we’re to unite and tackle the challenges we face.  And now, any training provided needs to be carefully considered – the requirements of the retail workforce have evolved, and retail businesses must adapt to ensure their cultures continue to empower their essential employees most valuable asset – their frontline staff.”

“Now is the time for grocery businesses to nurture and support the frontline and ensure they have the skills to do their best work.  By making sure every frontline employee recognises the role they play in supporting the business and the customers and communities it serves, the greater the chance of survival,” she concluded.

To find out more about how retailers can empower their frontline workforce, download the full report: