Posted by Caveo Learning ● May 4, 2017

Seasonal Training Needs Pose Particular Learning Challenges

shutterstock_442786513.jpgCreating effective training is especially tricky for organizations that face embedded seasonal variables. A company may need to skill up its workforce to prepare for a busy time of year—part-time holiday staff at retail outlets and summer workers for theme parks are some obvious examples. Seasonal training poses short-term learning challenges, but with planning and thoughtful strategy, the organization can nevertheless reap long-term benefits.

The reality is that seasonal training is not a one-and-done execution—it’s actually a regular event, even as it’s delivered to learners in short spurts and within specific timeframes—and it should be designed and managed in the context of an organization’s overall learning strategy. Learning professionals are all too familiar with last-minute training requests; seasonal training need not fall into that black hole.

Pin Down the Timeline

Successfully incorporating these periodic training events into the learning strategy begins with planning for them well in advance. The learning & development organization must be proactive in identifying target dates and deadlines. Communicate with other departments and business units to better understand needs, objectives, and timelines.

Work with the marketing and sales departments to create a training calendar that aligns with the influx of resourcing and hiring during those exceptionally high-volume periods. Once those target dates are known, it becomes much easier to design a training plan.

Focus on Key Knowledge

When designing training for a seasonal workforce, key on knowledge and skills truly required for the worker to be successful on the job. Don’t overcomplicate the training program by aiming for mastery of everything, when the learner may only really need to master a portion of the tasks and information. Determine critical day-to-day needs, train on that, and fill in the remaining gaps with job aids and other just-in-time deliverables.

Seasonal training is a perfect opportunity to use just-in-time training elements to place valuable information into the learner’s hands right when it’s needed. Just-in-time training houses content that is helpful to learners but which may not fall into the mastery column; the learner needs the information, but only infrequently. The elements could be simple one-page job aids, handy step-by-step laminated cards, or even a quick video clip accessible by QR code. The learner can rest assured knowing the content is available when they need it.

Design with Repurposing in Mind

Watch the Webinar: A Learning Leader’s Guide to Cohesive Content Curation When designing learning for seasonal use, consider approaching the deliverables as reusable units. While there will be certain content that is only useful during that identified seasonal delivery period, some elements of the training may well be useful in other scenarios and contexts (for instance, how to operate the point-of-sale terminal). Deliverables can be repurposed, and content can be pulled, sliced, and chunked to allow valuable information to be reused again in a different training program or setting.

Make Training Elements Modular

A modular program allows for capitalizing on training elements in a variety of ways—for the department’s and the learner’s benefit. The L&D organization benefits from creating modular training in that the pieces can be launched in a staggered capacity, which can accelerate speed to launch. The modular format also helps facilitate the organization of training elements in a variety of ways, such as by audience or topic. For example, a video introduction from the CEO can be delivered to all audiences, whereas a module about greeting customers at the return desk can be scheduled only for those specific workers. Of course, either module can be repurposed for future trainings where relevant, whether or not the workers are considered seasonal.

L&D can build its visibility and purpose by being proactive with planning for and managing seasonal training needs for the enterprise. The key is to look ahead and treat the design and development of seasonal elements and programs as part of the overall learning strategy. L&D can maximize the outputs from seasonal programs as functional elements across other programs, all of which helps build the validity and credibility of L&D throughout the organization.

Joelyne "Joie" Marshall is a learning solutions manager with Caveo Learning. She combines an MBA from Roosevelt University and a bachelor’s degree in electronic media from Northern Illinois University to design and implement learning solutions that are innovative, engaging, and deliver maximum business value to organizations. A former executive board member with the Association for Talent Development, Chicagoland Chapter, Marshall has presented at the Chicagoland eLearning & Technology Conference, the ATD Hawkeye Conference, and the Bank Trainers Conference.

Terry Goins is a senior instructional designer with Caveo Learning. Before joining Caveo in 2013, Goins worked in various design, development, and facilitation roles for a variety of large companies, including Halliburton, Northrop Grumman, and Anheuser-Busch. Based in the Houston area, she holds a business degree from Texas Tech University.

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Topics: Learning Strategy