Although e-learning has long been utilized by industries such as health care, energy and finance, until recently, the foodservice industry has lagged behind in implementing this training technology. Cost of developing the technological infrastructure necessary to reach the foodservice industry’s diverse work force is a major obstacle.
However, as pioneering foodservice organizations are adopting e-learning programs and realizing tremendous benefits, the rest of the industry is taking notice. Instead of suffering sticker shock at the initial investment, more companies now see e-learning as a cost-effective way to offer their employees a consistent training message that can increase employee competency and reduce turnover rates.
The ROI on e-learning is self-evident: If a foodservice organization can maintain quality, well-trained employees, it will be able to offer its customers a consistently great experience. Customers who are consistently satisfied, consistently return. Thus, the end result of an effective e-learning program is an increased level of revenue that, over time, can far surpass the initial investment.
Let’s take a look at what many foodservice organizations have experienced as a result of their e-learning programs.
E-learning training programs are not dependant on the knowledge and ability of individual trainers. Instead of different interpretations, every employee receives the exact same training. In addition, e-learning programs are not subject to office hours. Employees can progress through the training session as quickly or as slowly as needed, which dramatically increases retention. Finally, employees are able to “click” back through the training session to review key points if necessary.
Combined, these features result in a higher rate of retention and, in short, a more competent work force.
One of the greatest challenges facing the foodservice industry is the high rate of turnover. Studies show that competent employees who have confidence in their ability to handle the variety of situations that confront them on the job are less likely to leave the organization. E-learning training programs reduce turnover by arming new hires with knowledge and skills they will need in those critical first days and weeks.
The financial success of a foodservice organization depends on its ability to provide its customers with a consistently great experience. This means offering consistently great tasting food with consistently great service in a consistently clean environment. E-learning enables foodservice organizations to reduce their overall training costs by maintaining the well-trained employees who are able to provide this consistency. The reduction in overall training costs, combined with the repeat business of customers who are consistently satisfied, can lead to a noticeable increase in revenue.
In addition to these benefits, e-learning training programs offer some less obvious ways to reduce training expenditures. Classroom training can incur travel costs, supply costs and require the hiring of a dedicated trainer. E-learning enables new hires to attain a higher level of competency in a faster and more efficient manner, thus reducing the time they have to spend in on-the-job training. Think about the overall costs of taking one of your best employees off the floor to work with a new employee. The quicker your experienced employees can get back to doing what they do best – serving customers — the better.
So, Is the Time Really Right?
The foodservice industry is poised to take full advantage of this exciting tool. It is in the enviable position of being able to learn from the past experiences of other industries and get it right the first time. The foodservice organizations that do take advantage of this situation will develop e-learning training programs that raise employee competency, reduce turnover and increase overall revenue. For the foodservice industry, the time is definitely right.
About the Authors
Jeff Tenut and John Poulos are Partners at DiscoverLink. DiscoverLink, Inc. is an experienced provider of learning solutions that specializes in e-learning. They have worked with a wide range of foodservice organizations to assess their training needs and develop the overall learning strategy, e-learning program and content that meets those needs.