Training Roadmap

Jen DeBraal and Jay Chang

Training Roadmap

FVTC eLearning & Technology Solutions is helping Zebra Technologies train global workforce

| By: Britten, Casey

When Jen DeBraal’s senior operations manager at Zebra Technologies Corp. asked her if she could do one thing to improve processes, she didn’t hesitate to answer. “I said, ‘I want to develop a training program,” the operations manager explains.  

Zebra Technologies is a global company that manufactures and sells devices, software and services to help companies work more efficiently. You may not know the name, but you’ve undoubtedly interacted with its products. Many stores use Zebra scanners for personal shopping and checkout and hospital wristbands are printed on Zebra devices. The scanners are used in retail, warehouse distribution, healthcare, manufacturing and many other industries around the world.   

Jen’s team oversees operations at Zebra’s Greenville, Wis. location, one of seven flexographic printing facilities that creates labels for printers. “Labels are a small but important piece of Zebra’s business,” she says. “We’re not just labels, but a critical piece of the business. So how do we make sure that we produce the best possible labels? We need to have the best-trained employees we can have.”  

Jen decided to reach out to FVTC for help implementing a training program and was connected with Kim Buechel, manager of the FVTC eLearning & Technology Solutions team (formerly known as Learning Innovations).  

“We started discussing what the training could look like, and we landed on a program called structured on-the-job training,” Kim explains. “We expanded on the existing on-the-job training to identify very specific, measurable training goals.” This type of hands-on training not only provides employees with helpful tools and resources to learn what they need to know, it also helps management understand who is trained on what. Together the team created videos, checklists and full sets of work instructions that incorporate practical demonstration of knowledge gained. 

The FVTC eLearning team helped Jen understand that in order to truly measure the success of the training, skills must be demonstrated. “I had to change my mindset,” says Jen. “I learned that we can’t just give people step-by-step instructions, it has to be behavioral-based. How does an individual learn? You can tell them, you can show them, but it’s the actual doing that matters. That’s what’s showing us that they’re learning.” 

The result is the Global Supplies and Sensors Training Program, which focuses on new hires and the transition into a new role. Employees demonstrate specific skills to a targeted proficiency level from day-one through day-90, laying the foundation for their future success. 

And it caught the attention of senior Zebra leadership, expanding the scope beyond Greenville to include every Zebra supplies division location in the U.S. and Europe. “It was a teeny tiny idea that blossomed into a huge opportunity for the supplies sites,” Jen says. “It’s creating consistency that can transfer across sites. We’re all collectively training in the same manner, which is a huge benefit. You can come and run a machine here in Greenville the same way that you ran the machine in Texas or San Diego.” 

In addition to machine operations training, an orientation has also been developed to welcome new employees. And while parts of the training are still being developed, it will be complete by early 2023, with more plans on the horizon. 

“We had a vision, but felt a bit lost,” says Jen. “That’s where Fox Valley Tech came in. They gave us the path so we could start, and it’s opened doors to resources we didn’t even know existed. They began that journey with us to make this dream a reality.” 

Senior Operations Manager Richard Scott has led this project with Jen and echoes her feedback: “What started as a need to improve our front-line training program has evolved into a world-class training experience that’s far exceeding my expectations.”

"Fox Valley Tech gave us the path so we could start, and it’s opened doors to resources we didn’t even know existed.
They began that journey with us to make this dream a reality.” 

—Jen DeBraal, Zebra Technologies