Onboarding New Retail Workers In 2021
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Onboarding New Retail Workers In 2021

From the early markets of Ancient Greece to family-owned shops of the 18th century, and from the first shopping mall of the 1950s to the eCommerce revolution, retail is a critical part of how societies trade or consume resources, within the given mentality of making a profit. "The client is always right" is something we hear (or say) often, on either side of a retail counter. Companies make major investments in marketing campaigns, branding strategies, and training efforts to make this adage into a palpable reality.

Borders are open and social media brings trends and desires to our fingertips. Technology streamlines checkout, both online and offline. These are, at once, huge opportunities and serious challenges to how retail businesses will continue to thrive. If there is one thing that can make a difference in this fast-paced, volatile world of consumer goods and services, that is a company’s people.

Employees are, without a doubt, a company’s most valuable asset. Treating them as partners is a direction we see more and more in successful examples throughout the business world. Ongoing education and development, strong company values of inclusion and partnership, and open communication are key to finding, keeping, and growing a dependable workforce. It all starts with the crucial onboarding process because we only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Why Is Onboarding Important?

The onboarding gives new employees the chance to learn about the employer/company. As such, it is vital to make the best of this pocket of time and availability, for significant long-term benefits.

  • Employee retention is the most obvious benefit of a successful onboarding process. It bears repeating: putting people first translates into a stronger, more dependable workforce. An inclusive environment, a solid career development plan, and committed leaders contribute to decreased employee turnover. This, in turn, translates into important cost savings in the long run.
  • Company culture represents the sum of corporate values and behaviors in action and extensive efforts go into envisioning, communicating, and implementing such an important framework. Its integrity and value depend on the constant, determined, and accountable dedication of all employees within an organization. An onboarding process that reflects the company’s culture can help set realistic expectations, clarify best practices, and bring everyone on the same page.
  • A company’s workforce is the strongest and most visible business card, even more so in customer-facing retail enterprises. From the dress code and conduct to the proactive attitude, nothing can make or break a company’s brand image quite like the frontline staff. Onboarding is the first and most important moment to reinforce the importance of their job and their value to the company.

Edutainment, Making Onboarding Relevant And Rewarding

Contrary to the mainstream understanding and the rather sterile word choice, the onboarding process should not be a succession of cumbersome administrative tasks. Onboarding is an invaluable learning opportunity and deserves the utmost care and dedication.

Coined in 1954 by Walt Disney, edutainment is the idea that media (read: new technologies) can educate and entertain at the same time. This take on education can ensure better understanding and longer retention of the information, with a significant boost in staff morale and workplace mood. With at least one smart device attached to every new employee in every retail business, here are 5 ways in which edutainment principles can make onboarding relevant and rewarding.

  1. Make the learning environment user friendly. Design matters and good design is readily available, with the use of smart UI and a humane approach to information delivery. If the interface is intuitive and well designed, the learning process will feel less like a task and more like a discovery. For added value, the learning environment can mimic the actual retail environment, doubling as a pocket map for frequently asked questions or important resources.
  2. Not all learners are the same and education is not one size fits all. An adaptive learning process ensures new employees have access only to essential information and in a way that suits their learning styles. This translates into decreased pressure, which boosts their morale and strengthens the idea that they are in the right place.
  3. Instead of managing learners, HR content creators can use new technologies and diverse multimedia resources to target specific learning goals by creating learning experiences. Employees become the true client of L&D efforts and can benefit from tailor-made experience-based learning programs. These promote self-sufficient education and ensure vital information is always available in an attractive and actionable format.
  4. Microlearning is a smarter, more agile take on eLearning, packing a punch in bite-sized installments. With good design and multimedia capabilities, the right information reaches the right person at the right time. New employees can counter the overwhelming feeling of new beginnings by deciding the pace of their learning process. By enjoying the control and the flexibility of their learning experience, employees will feel trusted and empowered. Microlearning platforms track progress by general deadlines and micro-assessments.
  5. The gamification of the learning process is one of the most successful tools for retail sales training. Game-like elements, such as weekly leaderboards, learning streaks, and achievements, work as powerful engagement and recognition tools. By triggering deep human emotions, gamification ensures better information retention, as well as more efficient feedback. Employees and employers can count on a more accurate, real-time image of training efforts and results.

Onboarding Is Only The Beginning

A solid onboarding process sets the tone for what should be a long-term, mutually beneficial partnership. Career development and workplace dynamic follow suit. An efficient onboarding process can last anywhere between three months and one year to allow enough time for in-depth training. After employees receive all the resources needed to perform well in their jobs, the process becomes one of continuous open communication. This is where the benefits of a well-established system become clear. Transparent assignment of tasks, direct and efficient information sharing, and clear feedback channels are cornerstones of a healthy work relationship that values visibility and accountability for all partners involved.

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