Top insights on training democratization from an American automaker
Executive Summary: This article discusses the factors that led to the success of an automation rollout at a major American automaker during the Covid pandemic. Democratizing the rollout proved essential in garnering employee support, but training could have been improved to further community-building and democratization during this time of uncertainty at the company. Alternative training solutions can aid administrators in community-building and personalized training to further ensure that no employee is left behind during a new technology rollout.
This article is based on an interview with an executive at a large American automotive company who wished to stay anonymous.
The automotive industry faces an existential crisis on many fronts due to an aging business model. These include the shift to electric vehicles and changing consumer preferences in the automotive market. However, the most urgent one is the rapid pace of change in the skill sets needed to work in the industry. Automation and other technologies collectively known as Industry 4.0 are revolutionizing every part of the automotive industry from automotive from engineering to sales. The introduction of these technologies has created a skills gap across the industry that executives are scrambling to address.
One American automotive company began its transition to Industry 4.0 technologies just before the Covid pandemic began. This automaker faced many challenges that were made worse by the pandemic. But the RPA implementation still saw fantastic results despite the challenges it faced.
The purpose of the RPA at this automaker was to identify and automate repetitive jobs that were performed by humans. The goal of automating repetitive jobs was to free workers to work on more core, high-value jobs. Many employees feared that they would lose their jobs once they became automated, so the automaker had to address and resolve these fears successfully. But these fears proved to be unfounded, and the implementation of RPA proved to have many other benefits as well. It threw the company’s dependence on time management out the window. It also allowed the company to go paperless, which allowed all documents and communications to be accessed from anywhere.
People forget nearly 90% of what they have learnt within just 7 days, unless the concepts are reinforced. That’s why employees swamped with documents, presentations, and classroom sessions are not likely to learn much.
However, time constraints make it difficult to reinforce vast concepts.
What can you do instead? Arm your employees with one concept at a time. Studies show the human attention span is only 8.25 seconds, so keep your training concise.
RapL is your software for that.
How did the automaker ensure a smooth rollout of RPA?
There were four steps the automaker took to ensure a successful implementation and transition:
- Testing: Many employees were fearful of the way RPA would change the way they worked. This automaker implemented extensive pilot testing to observe the way this would change workflows. Data from pilot testing was also used to adapt other processes to complement this change. Extensive pilot testing also ensured that any kinks were smoothed out before company-wide rollout.
- Training: The company adopted a combined regimen of videos and live training to train employees on RPA. Videos were to be more engaging than standard training material and live training taught hands-on skills. Employees were tested throughout and after training with assessments to make sure they knew what they had to know. Training was conducted uniformly across the entire company to minimize miscommunication.
- Support: The automaker implemented many support systems to ease employees into the transition of working with RPA. As part of this, the RPA was designed to be low/no code to eliminate dependence on SAP. This allowed employees to easily automate processes themselves without prior coding experience. The low/no code platform also ensured every employee understood the code that was being used.
- Rollout: The rollout of RPA was conducted uniformly throughout the company, so that every division and every location received the same training. The introduction of RPA was conducted with the feedback and support of employees at a grassroots level.
Democratizing implementation and training for RPA
The most important step the company took to allay employees’ fears about losing their jobs was democratizing the entire implementation of RPA. There were three administrative bodies involved in overseeing the implementation: the executive committee, a group of functional leaders, and groups of employees on the ground.
The executive committee was the administrative body in charge of overseeing and planning the implementation of RPA across the entire company. Functional leaders were individuals chosen by each team to act as a leader and as an ambassador to the executive committee. Before implementing each progressive step of RPA, the executive committee conducted a “vibe check” with the functional leaders to hear employee concerns. In this “vibe check,” functional leaders took note of employee sentiments, concerns, and feelings regarding the implementation and next steps. The executive committee changed implementation plans accordingly.
Lastly, functional leaders held a weekly town hall meeting with their teams to hear concerns and inputs from their colleagues. These town hall meetings ensured full, community-wide participation in the RPA implementation. These town hall meetings also helped foster a sense of community in an uncertain time and helped allay fears of layoffs.
By ensuring full community participation in the RPA implementation process and by making it as transparent as possible, this automaker helped allay anxieties and fears of employees. Employees found that they had more time to devote to core tasks now that the repetitive ones were being automated and performed by robots. Instead of being laid off, they were free to focus on core tasks that provided more value to the automaker.
How can microlearning help democratize your training process?
The automaker described above used a combination of live training and videos to train its employees on RPA. What if we told you there was a better way? One that would foster community and engagement and would make training itself more democratic?
Microlearning is a new method of training that lends itself to promoting engagement, community building, and healthy competition amongst your employees. Microlearning breaks up large chunks of information into small pieces so that employees can spend just a few minutes every day learning an actionable topic. Microlearning software incorporates the latest research on memory, learning, attention span, and human psychology to make training more effective and enjoyable. Focused microlearning modules can be accessed anytime and anywhere, so that workers can learn at their own pace.
Why is microlearning so suited to community-building and employee engagement?
Most microlearning softwares incorporate basic features that help employees connect with each other and facilitate team building:
- Gamification: Most microlearning platforms have gamified leaderboards, badges, points, and achievements that help employees engage with the content and with each other. The healthy competition introduced by gamification can aid community-building within teams as they set up friendly contests with each other during the training process.
- AI-based content personalization: RapL’s microlearning platform detects the strengths and weaknesses of each learner. RapL’s algorithm targets daily questions to help close the skills gaps of each individual employee. This unique level of personalization will help employees feel more comfortable with what they learn and will alleviate some of the fears and stress surrounding the implementation of automation.
- Individual learning paths: Learners can learn at their own pace with any microlearning platform. This allows everyone to learn at the pace they feel comfortable with. It also creates a culture of continuous learning so that employees can learn theoretically through training while gaining hands-on experience on the job. Microlearning is conducive to a slow transition to automation similar to what the automaker in this case study did.
- Media compatibility: Microlearning as a tool can complement all kinds of media. Microlearning platforms support the usage of videos like the American automaker did. They can also support more traditional training programs that make use of PDFs and images. Most importantly, microlearning platforms can be used to support and solidify live training. They can be a helpful tool to support learning what was taught in a live session. They can also provide assessments to assess each learner’s skill level with the content to complement live training.
- Social learning: Microlearning lends itself to a continuous learning culture. This culture promotes social learning so that employees can learn from each other during the rollout process, contributing to community-building.
Gamification and other features make microlearning an excellent way to support a transparent and communal transition and implementation process that made the American automaker’s RPA implementation so successful.
How can microlearning support the administrative side of an RPA rollout?
Microlearning platforms also possess administrative-side features that facilitate other factors essential to success like training uniformity and metric tracking. In the case study, the automaker collected three key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of training: attendance, self-reported training feedback, and the feedback of line managers. Most microlearning platforms will also collect and report more specific and granular data on advanced metrics ranging from activation rate to average time spent on modules. This granular metric tracking provides an administrative experience that can help managers and functional leaders target training where it’s needed most:
- Centralization: Microlearning platforms allow you to manage all your employees and learning modules using the same software, which helps keep training uniform and consistent across teams and locations. Employees, learning materials, and courses can all be found in one place.
- Organizational hierarchies: Some platforms allow you to replicate organizational hierarchies based on groups and roles (attributes which can be assigned to employees to indicate roles and locations, or anything else). These groups and roles allow managers to assign courses only to the employees who need them while keeping the learning centralized.
- Analytics and metrics: All good platforms report granular data on advanced metrics from activation rate to average time to complete modules. This data can be viewed company-wide or broken down by group or role. Access to this level of data can help evaluate the success of training. The data can also point to things that could be improved about training.
- Scalability: Most microlearning platforms are infinitely scalable. As many employees as needed can be added to a company’s microlearning platform. This makes it a perfect fit for large automotive companies that need to deliver consistent training company-wide.
Microlearning can be a powerful tool for furthering a gradual rollout process that is uniform and centralized. It also promotes employee engagement and healthy competition. These all allay employee fears and ensure that the rollout goes smoothly and employees feel secure and respected. To schedule a demo of RapL’s microlearning platform, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
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