The corporate side of supermarkets is something that eludes many people, but as with any business, they place a high emphasis on training their staff to the highest level. Though this may differ from the traditional business training model, supermarket programmes entertain a wide range of approaches. From intensive training to online academies, staff learning varies across the board. However, one thing is clear: the drive for success is almost blinding. Indeed, it’s hard to ignore the prominence of UK supermarket giants; there is a reason why they boast high levels of success year after year, even when the country falls on hard times.
Intensive training – Some of the biggest names in retail have recently invested in more intensive styles of training, placing huge importance on ensuring all members of staff learn at exactly the same level. Up and coming supermarket hero Aldi is known for its rigorous corporate training schemes. These courses range from one year for trainee area managers, to eighteen months for graduate programmes, and promise some of the best training in the business. Their success can be seen in the company’s rise to prominence in the last few years, but more notably in the reviews from workers, who say their plan is very effective, and that while you’re expected to work hard, their generous salary more than makes up for it.
Supermarket academies – Sainsbury’s pioneered the idea of college-based learning in 2014, investing millions of pounds in opening six training colleges. This approach followed on from their success with ‘bakery college’, but broadened its scope to training both store workers and people in corporate roles. Their aim was to make sure all employees received exactly the same level of training, and this consistency is part of what keeps their standards high. Most importantly, though, staff are taught coaching skills to pass onto new or struggling employees, so no one is left behind. In turn, this has left workers feeling more valued and involved with the company.
Growing with technology – Other giants like Tesco have employed similar tactics, opening academies in places all over the world. However, they have taken a step away from the more classic approach of classroom learning to combine other elements within their programme. For example, their Group Management Programme is something the company is very proud of, and is just one of many group training approaches. Yet, it is their shift towards technology that marks them out. Starting with ‘Academy Online’ and culminating in ‘Academy on the Go’, Tesco offers bitesize levels of learning alongside office training to keep workers topped up throughout their time with the company. As the world moves into its technological age, this helps keep staff in touch with its development.
Personalised pathways – A more personal approach is what’s benefitted other competitors, like M&S, who boast a training programme that is molded around every employee’s differing needs. In fact, one employee was particularly impressed with how much engagement there was between staff. M&S state that this type of learning is what helps them achieve perfection, and while it may take up a lot of time, the company was awarded Best Supermarket earlier this year in a survey by Which?, meaning they must be doing something right.
Doing the right thing – This isn’t the only thing they focus on in training. As the news becomes more and more saturated with stories about the environment and other social issues, it isn’t surprising that M&S have taken their learning journey down the path for sustainability. By making their staff aware of topical issues, they are equipped with the tools to carry out business with the outside world in mind. There have even been initiatives carried out that aim to help their communities, all with the aim that the training they deliver helps to build a sustainable future for their company, and the planet.
A helping hand – There is a misconception that training has to be rigid, intimidating and intensive. Yet, although Lidl do incorporate this style of learning into their schemes, it’s their mentor system that really makes them stand out from the crowd. It’s a more pastoral approach, tackling retention issues by having refresher sessions and a friendly face around the office. It’s no surprise that workers are calling their training structure nothing short of brilliant.