How to recruit great retail teams. The advantages of organized and digital onboarding

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UK unemployment is at its lowest level for over a decade, having fallen to just 4.8% (ONS). With the labour market’s remarkable recovery, competition for talent is fierce. Candidates can afford to be picky. And, it is now increasingly difficult for retailers to ensure they recruit and retain the best and the brightest from an ever-decreasing pool applicants.

So how do you ensure you recruit the right talent and deliver outstanding customer service over the long term?  And what benefits can a structured and digital onboarding program bring to your business?

The statistics are compelling:-

Research clearly shows that good onboarding programs pays dividends:-

Why is great onboarding so important?

An organized onboarding programme can be vital in ensuring you retain the best and brightest talent.

The impact of a new recruit leaving within the first year, is not just a major inconvenience of having a new vacancy to fill, but will have a major knock on impact on the whole team.

The frontline manager will have invested time in developing the leaver, customers may notice the high turnover in staff, the morale of the team itself can be severely affected, and the impact of an unfilled vacancy will affect your ability to deliver great customer service.

A great onboarding program is therefore not just great for the recruit, but great for business. To neglect the induction process for new recruits costs the organization money, affects the bottom line and can have a dramatic impact on day-to-day operations.

So what does a good onboarding program look like?

Pre-board your new recruits

Set the tone before your new starters arrive. Provide them with useful information that helps make them feel comfortable and welcome. This could include a timetable for their first day with details of everyone that they will be meeting, , information about their benefits and some initial information about the products and services offered by the company. And  all this information could be provided via a mobile program using engaging online modules and videos.

Make your essential information accessible to your new recruits

Your new hire will gain confidence and become effective members of the team, particularly if they can find key information quickly. Many organizations provide this information via an LMS which can be difficult to sift through. Just imagine the satisfaction of being able to answer a tricky customer question quickly and accurately, just by accessing the information via a clean and user friendly mobile platform.

Ensure your onboarding program focuses on achievable goals

A good onboarding program will have a series of milestones that can be quickly achieved by your new recruits. This enables your new team members to have early successes and to develop their confidence. Achievable goals could be the completion of an online training module or selling a particular product or service.

Don’t overload your new recruits with information

New starters have to absorb vast amounts of information in a short period of time – they will have to develop product and market knowledge, become familiar with the operational aspects of the business as well as develop new social networks. Identify what information is key to your new recruits achieving each milestone during their induction – and then develop a programme that delivers this content in bite-sized chunks.

Also think about including on-the-job activities to provide a truly blended learning program.  This will help with the transfer of learning and ensure they perform faster. For example, you could ask the learner to do a job shadowing activity and then ask them to complete an online form to share what they have learnt.

Regular reinforcement is shown to work. New recruits exposed to ideas six times will retain at least 90% of the knowledge after 30 days, whereas if they are only exposed once to the idea, retention will be less than 10%. By breaking down knowledge into chunks that can be presented in different formats, such as text, video clips, quizzes etc. knowledge can be acquired and retained.

Coaching support

Ensure that your retail frontline managers have good coaching skills to support your new recruits over an extended period. The best onboarding programs last longer than a few weeks – good coaching support ramps up new hire performance and improves retention rates.

Also think about how you can make coaching more convenient for your managers. Managers are often overwhelmed with an abundance of tasks and responsibilities and find it difficult to fully support their new hires. Using technology to connect them to new hires can reap great rewards. Imagine if managers could track the progress of new hires and provide direct feedback via their smart phone based on how well they have applied the knowledge.

We are delighted to announce that our Prosell On.Board Web App has over 70,000 users worldwide. If you would like to discuss how to develop and rollout a structured digital onboarding program for your retail teams, supported by a customised Web App, please do get in touch.


Further Reading

Office for National Statistics

Welcome to the 21st Century, onboarding! (2014)

From capability to profitability: Realizing the value of people management. BCG.

The Boston Consulting Group & World Federation of People Management Associations (2012).

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