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5 benefits of retail onboarding (and how to do it better)

By Axonify: Effective onboarding for retail is essential, as it sets each new sales assistant and store manager on a course for success. Unfortunately, according to… View Article


5 benefits of retail onboarding (and how to do it better)

By Axonify: Effective onboarding for retail is essential, as it sets each new sales assistant and store manager on a course for success.

Unfortunately, according to a recent Gallup study, only 12% of new hires believe they are fully prepared and supported to succeed in-role after onboarding. That means many retailers aren’t recognising the importance of allocating ample resources to onboarding, and those that do aren’t onboarding according to best practices. 

So what can be done? First, let’s talk about the benefits of onboarding.

The 5 benefits of an effective retail onboarding program

If onboarding staff hasn’t been a priority in your organisation, or if you need to convince key decision-makers to invest more in onboarding, consider the following stats

1. Effective onboarding gives you a competitive edge over other retailers

81% of employees feel overwhelmed during the onboarding process. As the research reveals, most employees feel unprepared because their organisation simply isn’t making the effort to improve the onboarding process. And if they are, onboarding programs haven’t traditionally been tailored to meet the day-to-day realities of the retail workforce. And that has a major impact. This is a challenge to face, but also an opportunity to quickly rise above your competitors and be an employer of choice.

2. Onboarding impacts business outcomes

Gartner’s Employee Onboarding Checklist uncovered that a successful onboarding process can boost workforce performance by up to 15%—and committed employees were found to work 57% harder. It just makes sense. When you give sales assistants and store managers the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, they have more confidence, a greater sense of purpose and the skills they need to succeed. And this benefit extends to the customer experience. 

3. Onboarding impacts retention

This is a big, unsurprising, one. Excellent onboarding has the power to improve retention by as much as 82%, according to Brandon Hall Group. Retention and hiring present monumental challenges right now, especially for frontline industries. Job vacancies in the UK remain at historic highs and a quarter of the workforce is ready to quit, so the Great Resignation is far from over. In order to help keep retention rates as low as possible in light of the current challenges, a foundation for success needs to be established right from day one. 

4. Effective onboarding can increase employee engagement 

Effective onboarding builds confidence, proficiency and community—70% of the employees Gallup surveyed who had excellent onboarding experiences said they loved their jobs. It’s easy to connect the dots from a strong start to higher overall job satisfaction and a more positive company culture. 

5. Onboarding gets new hires up to speed faster

We all want the same thing: enabled staff on the floor as fast as possible. But it takes the average employee 12 months to reach their performance potential. In today’s high turnover economy, that kind of time commitment is nearly impossible. In many cases, you’ll be training new sales assistants and managers before your departing staff have even mastered the fundamentals. Effective retail onboarding can help people reach their potential much faster and help you to keep operations running smoothly. 

How to onboard new retail staff more effectively 

Understanding the benefits of onboarding is the first step, but knowing how to get the job done is another story. There’s a significant difference between having a retail onboarding program in place and one that’s highly effective. That’s because onboarding in itself isn’t the solution. You have to onboard new hires in a way that actually delivers measurable benefits for your team and your organisation. 

1. Make it a priority

Don’t treat onboarding as an afterthought. Establish a formal retail onboarding program, complete with standards and protocols, and make it a priority for every new hire. Onboarding should begin before the sales assistant or store manager even walks through the door for their first shift. For instance, you can prepare them by digitising any new hire paperwork ahead of time and briefing them on essential information like where to park and where to go when they arrive on their first day. Some of these steps can be incorporated right into the initial hiring process. 

2. Emphasise more than just training

Basic training is an important part of the retail onboarding process, but it’s not the only important part. In fact, it’s essential that you differentiate your onboarding and training processes with a hybrid approach that helps new hires quickly form a connection to the organisation. Onboarding should include connecting new hires with the rest of the workforce, answering their questions and ensuring they have everything they need to do their new job successfully. More than anything, it’s about making them feel at home. 

3. Focus on the most important knowledge upfront

New hire training can be overwhelming. Sales assistants and managers have to absorb a ton of knowledge in just one or two shifts so they can hit the floor ASAP. So when organising your training, make sure to start with just the fundamentals. What do they really need to know in order to do their job today? Then you can build on that foundational knowledge with ongoing training that covers the supplemental details. The last thing you want to do is inundate your new staff on the first day. 

Experience the full benefits of onboarding

If you want to streamline your onboarding for better employee engagement, confidence, performance and retention, Axonify can help get everyone connected and up to speed quickly. 

At the core of any modern onboarding program is modern training. Axonify delivers short, engaging, device-enabled daily learning modules to staff in the flow of work, so they can absorb the basics right away and continue to improve their skills for as long as they’re with you. Each lesson is tailored to the user, and there’s even built-in communication to help your new hires become part of your brand’s community. You can learn more about the microlearning approach in our comprehensive guide.

Regardless of how you go about it, the important thing for retailers is to make effective onboarding a priority. If you do that, the benefits will be felt across your entire organisation.

Register for our Retail Technology Show 2024 TECH Talk happening on Thursday, 25 April where Axonify Co-founder Christine Tutssel will be sharing onboarding tips and success stories from retailers who have crafted impactful onboarding strategies that drive retention, performance and cost savings.


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