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How To Retain New Hires After Onboarding

This was originally posted on eLearning Industry on September 25, 2019

There are losses—some financial and some cultural—when an employee decides to leave a company during or soon after their employee onboarding. Unfortunately, industries like retail and technology have much higher turnover than others. For example, a CAP study found that it costs $3,328 to find, hire, and train a replacement for a $10/hour retail employee [1]. In an industry with a turnover rate that’s around 45% higher than the average, those expenses add up quickly [2].

It’s clearly costly and generally less effective to onboard a new round of employees than to simply retain trainees. So, in order to help you hold onto more of your employees, we’ve put together a few tips for you to incorporate into your corporate training design to increase employee retention and minimize trainee turnover.

Establishing Expectations Early

Many trainees who leave during or soon after training do so because they feel like the job and the work they’re doing doesn’t align with what their original expectations. In retail, it’s also common for employees to be unclear on their career paths and opportunities for growth [3]. As you might expect, they end up leaving to find employment where they see more potential.

How well do your employees understand their roles within the organization? One key component of onboarding you may be missing is to situate your new hires within their department or company as a whole. If your training content doesn’t map out the positions and responsibilities within the larger organization, then you’re missing an opportunity to give the learner context for the role.

Here are a few creative ideas to accomplish this:

  • Build a motion graphic that takes a product through different teams from start to finish (e.g. design, manufacturing, logistics, retail, etc.)
  • Create a simulation that asks learners to identify which individual or team to reach out to for specific problems.
  • Record a video testimonial describing an employee’s career growth, starting from that learner’s position.

By establishing clear expectations regarding the position, its responsibilities, and future growth opportunities for the trainees, companies can avoid potential confusion and miscommunication and increase the likelihood of trainee retention.

Give Enough New Hire Training

Sometimes, employees leave because they don’t have the training or guidance they need to feel confident in their performance. A study by Lessonly research found that 46% of retail associates don’t receive enough training to perform their jobs effectively, with 54% of retailers saying that they’re looking for better associate training and sales enablement [4]. There are a few situations specific to retail that can contribute to shorter onboarding timelines. For example, seasonal employees may not have as much ramp-up before the holiday rush. If they haven’t received enough training, how much will it cost your company in lost revenue?


Employees who are heard are employees who are more likely to stay. This applies to all employees within a company, including trainees. Do you have a method for trainees to give feedback on training courses? If not, you may be missing an opportunity to increase employee engagement—and critical feedback on your training course. Trainees that feel like their voice is heard from the start are generally more likely to remain at the company. Beyond that, feeling heard can help develop a feeling of ownership of their responsibilities.

However, your employees won’t feel heard if you only have methods for hearing employees when training feedback’s concerned. Encouraging employee communication and feedback with supervisors can also help increase trainee and overall employee retention.

Recognize Accomplishments

Another method for increasing retention during your onboarding process is through recognizing trainee accomplishments. This could be done by gamifying the training process and giving trainees rewards or badges for accomplishing certain tasks or passing certain training thresholds. Whatever the decision, increasing recognition during and after the onboarding process helps employees feel appreciated.


No matter which of these methods you incorporate into your business’s onboarding process, the important thing to take away is that retention is almost always preferable to another round of recruiting. When it comes to retail, there’s quite a bit of room for improvement. But, these principals easily apply to other industries as well.


[1] CAP retail study

[2] Retail turnover

[3] How Training Can Engage and Retain Millennial and Gen Z Retail Associates

[4] Lessonly retail research