Golden Corral Improves Learning Retention with Mircolearning and Blended Learning

Golden Corral, an all-you-can-eat buffet and grill concept, has been DiscoverLink’s client since 2003. Headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, Golden Corral has more than 500 locations and more than 35,000 employees. With thousands of new employees to train each year, Golden Corral ran into an issue that many restaurants face. New hourly employees were spending 4-8 hours in the “training closet,” a room where employees sit for long periods of time to complete required online training. Learning retention was low, and the connection between e-learning and on-the-job training was unclear, so Golden Corral set out to find a solution.

A Redesign to Meet Every Learner’s Needs

To understand the challenges new hires faced, Golden Corral held small workshops with field operators and sought ideas on how to improve the training experience. Receiving input and buy-in from field operators was key. From those meetings, Golden Corral developed a list of concepts to cover with new employees, including during which shift each concept should be taught and the number of shifts it would take for new employees to be job-ready.

Next, Golden Corral redesigned all hourly employee e-learning courses by dividing the concepts into focused, microlearning courses with a targeted length of five to seven minutes each. Microlearning breaks up big concepts and delivers content in small, specific sessions. Golden Corral also redesigned the courses with more modern instructional design elements to meet the generational needs of their employees while increasing critical thinking skills. They integrated custom photos taken in their restaurants featuring real managers and employees, providing the learner with familiar faces for added engagement. Finally, to meet the needs of all learner types, every course includes customized visual buttons with limited on-screen text, audio narration recorded by professional voice-over artists in both English and Spanish, and interactive exercises.

Blended Learning Implemented after Redesign

After the redesign, a blended learning approach was implemented to improve learning retention and provide consistent training across all locations. Combining e-learning and on-the-job training provides learners with the opportunity to practice their new skills during a shift or extend beyond basic skills with a trainer. Golden Corral employs Crew Trainers, who are experts in training and their positions; they are paramount to the new program’s success. Crew Trainers are equipped with learner guides, which list the e-learning topics to be reinforced and techniques to be covered during on-the-job training sessions. Additionally, pocket-sized hourly employee guides were produced to help new employees know what to expect during their training.

“E-learning helped us address three issues we kept receiving from managers: the courses are too long, learners need more hands-on time, and employees want less time on the computers,” said Kimberly Johnson, Senior Instructional Designer at Golden Corral. “New employees are now able to immediately put to use what they have learned and apply it in real life situations.”

No More Learners Stuck in the Training Closet

Now, a new Golden Corral employee begins training with a 30-minute e-learning session, and following the session, the learner is locked out for 30 minutes. Golden Corral utilizes Wait Time, a unique feature of their learning management system (LMS), DiscoverLink Talent. Wait Time provides waiting periods within a training program that force employees to pause for a specific amount of time before continuing to their next task. During this pause in their training, learners can practice new skills or participate in hands-on training before continuing with another e-learning module. It prevents learners from being trapped in the “training closet” and promotes a more effective, phased training approach. During the time learners are “locked out,” the new employee works with a Crew Trainer where the e-learning concepts are reinforced, and real-world applications are made.

Golden Corral reported that new employees are retaining information much better and workers feel more confident. Learners now know exactly what to do during their shifts thanks to the new training approach.

“The goal was to better prepare employees to go from new to certified in the shortest amount of time possible,” said Johnson. “We wanted to retain employees and worked very hard to create interesting and informative courses while fostering critical thinking skills, and the LMS allowed us to achieve that.”

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