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Is L&D the Key to the Great Resignation’s Productivity Predicament?

Roberta Gogos
Nov 19 2021

How high growth organisations can accelerate time-to-productivity with L&D

By Roberta Gogos

From mass attrition to pricey talent acquisition bidding wars, the Great Resignation is impacting the bottom line negatively, and that’s without even considering another key profitability metric we haven’t discussed specifically before: time-to-productivity. 

Think about it: it’s more than likely that you’ve lost some key players and gained many new ones since the beginning of the pandemic. Are your new employees pillars of productivity, or are they sat en masse, waiting for training programmes to help guide the way? Given the scope and scale of employee movement at the moment, time-to-productivity could be make-or-break for profitability.

Given the scale of the Great Resignation, if you don’t handle this time carefully, it could get very, very expensive. Have you ever seen the ‘The Cost of Turnover’ checklist? Created by William G. Bliss, a certified leadership coach, the checklist calculated and demonstrated that the average employee isn’t fully productive until the fifth or sixth month

Bliss’ rather unblissful checklist claims that in weeks 1-4, employees are only 25% productive, and in weeks 5-12, they are only 50% productive. By weeks 13-20, employees are still only 75% productive, with 25% of their time still classified as ‘lost productivity.’ 

Take Bliss’ theories with a grain of salt if you like - he’s one person, and it’s just an opinion. But I’m willing to bet that most companies’ time-to-productivity is not far off from his metrics.

While there is no magic silver bullet answer to time-to-productivity, there are several places where L&D can help, and onboarding is a critical place to start. 

Common L&D Challenges in Onboarding and Time-to- Productivity

Our retail customer Seasalt is a really interesting and successful in-flow learning onboarding example. In one of our newest case studies, the company shares many of the challenges it previously had (pre-Fuse) surrounding onboarding. To summarise, these were: 

  • Trying to onboard and train new employees in a really fast-growth environment. Pre-pandemic, Seasalt’s L&D model involved only face-to-face training, either in-store or at head office, and it wasn’t enabling the company to get product information to people quickly enough. 
  • Learning was a slow and variable process, which had created inconsistencies in how well employees were onboarded, and how well they performed
  • Upskilling during onboarding to reduce time to performance was not as effective as the company wanted. 
  • The company had no visibility of how well its employees were being onboarded, and because of that, it had no way to determine what was working and what could be improved from a learning point of view.

Accelerating Onboarding with In-Flow Learning

What Seasalt did with Fuse is what we’ve seen time and time again work successfully from both an onboarding and ongoing learning point of view. 

With Fuse, the company shifted much of its knowledge to be available in the flow of work. We call it ‘in-flow learning,’ and it’s the opposite of ‘out-of-flow learning,’ which is usually formal and course-led. 

Learning shifted from face-to-face training to online knowledge delivered at the point of need, in the flow of work. In a sense, the onboarding process became less formal, and more an everyday part of work, moving from slow and variable to quick and consistent. 

It also meant that onboarding could be combined with upskilling, which has been crucial, particularly for retail companies in light of the pandemic. Many retailers have had to upskill employees’ digital skills in the move to a more e-commerce based selling environment. Having complete visibility of this was something Seasalt achieved with Fuse via transparent analytics, and the transparency provided by its learning and coaching environments. 

Ultimately, Fuse helped Seasalt to accelerate onboarding with in-flow learning, which also demonstrably accelerated time-to-productivity. In turn, this reduced time to performance, which is a great underlier of profitability driven by L&D. 

It’s where all companies should be aiming, and luckily for us, it’s the norm for Fuse customers. Our customer Hilti is another stellar example of how Fuse has demonstrably reduced onboarding time with in-flow learning. 

Before the company implemented the Fuse platform, its engineering modules took more than ten hours per course, and employee onboarding was a four week, in-person commitment. Hilti’s sales onboarding time and payback process times have decreased by 80% with Fuse. What used to take 60-90% of the year to deliver in learning is now learning on the go, in bite-sized amounts, via mobile devices.

Don’t Stop at Onboarding…..

Onboarding is an obvious place for L&D to start when it comes to addressing time-to-productivity, but if organisations want to see their learning investments continue to impact the bottom line, they should strive to see learning impact productivity positively at all times. 

In-flow learning is well-positioned to maintain great levels of productivity, but we’d be neglectful in not mentioning its supporting cast in Fuse. Having an amazing search functionality and AI-assisted learning means that Fuse learners get the best, most relevant content quickly and in the flow of work, which is really key in day to day time-to-productivity. If you’d like to read more about how AI is accelerating time to knowledge in Fuse, check out our ebook 4 Ways AI Can Power Up Digital Learning

In the meantime, hold that learning platform of yours accountable. Time-to-productivity should absolutely be a key metric for onboarding success, and Fuse learners are showing exactly what a powerful and strategic differentiator it can be in learning performance-driven profitability. 

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