Using Your Training to Retain Entry Level Employees

There are few words and phrases in the business world that send a shiver up an employer’s spine, but employee turnover is definitely one of them. Turnover always has been, is, and will be a concern for companies. In 2020 alone, there was a 57.3% turnover rate, a notable increase from the 45.1% in 2019.

To avoid the dreaded “T word,” many employers try to revamp their new employee training. On paper, this tactic makes sense: if employees get all the necessary info during the onboarding process, then they’ll be perfectly content in their job and stay forever. Right?

Not quite. In this case, it’s not just the thought that counts. When it comes to training, there’s a little more to it than that.

The best way to ensure employees stay is simple. Make sure they understand and can do their job. If they have questions about their specific responsibilities, take the time to answer them. This means making sure you understand their job description, expectations, and the training they need. Clarifying this information for yourself will also help you help them. Next, you need to provide regular feedback on their successes and areas of improvement.  In some cases, a new employee won’t know what they’re doing right or wrong until someone else points it out. Correct them when they make mistakes and recognize their achievements when they do well. A study found that 79% of employees quit their jobs due to a lack of appreciation, even though showing appreciation can be as simple as saying “good job.” Now, to many employers, that sounds like a lot of work, but really, this entire list can be accomplished through good training.

Imagine you’re a new hire attending orientation at the company that accepted you. You’re at a table with other new employees. The man on your left is way too chatty for 8 AM in the morning, and the woman on your right looks like she’ll fight someone if she doesn’t get her coffee. After some introductions from a presenter, whose name you’ve already forgotten, you’re greeted with PowerPoint. A lengthy, no pictures, paragraphs-instead-of-lists PowerPoint. To top it all off, it’s filled with terms and jargon that go right over your head. Once the presentation is done, the only thing you’ve learned is that there’s so much you don’t know.

The scenario above is one of the biggest problems with most training: an employer put it together with an employer mindset. If someone has zero experience in the business world, words like “core competency” and “low-hanging fruit” probably mean nothing to them. Failure to grasp these terms, especially if the employee thinks they are expected to understand them, leaves your employee confused and uncertain in their new role. That uncertainty creates anxiety which leads them to believe they can’t succeed at their job, and then they inevitably quit to avoid being fired. All over a simple, preventable misunderstanding.

How do we fix this? The simple answer is that employee training should be centered on the employee. Here are a few ways to focus your training on the users:

  • Define your terms — For example, taking the aforementioned examples of core competency and low-hanging fruit, an effective presentation would either define those terms or use more direct language.
  • Leave time for questions — Your employees will have them, and you will appreciate answering those questions once for the group instead of ten times for each individual.
  • Give thoughtful answers — Answers like “talk to HR” or “you’ll learn more about that when you start” can be viewed as dismissive. Setting aside a few minutes to provide thoughtful answers eases employee concerns.
  • Provide clear expectations — Employees need to know what they’re doing, why it’s important, and why they’re the ones doing it. Once they have that, they’ll be better equipped to do the work you’re asking of them and want to stay.

Okay, you’ve reenergized your trainings and put the employee in the spotlight. Problem solved?

Almost! We’re closer to where we should be, but there’s still more work to be done!

Many employers throw all of their energy into onboarding training only to wonder why that didn’t solve the problem. Training is not a one-and-done process. It should be an ongoing initiative for as long as the employee is with your company. As there is always more to learn, especially for entry level employees, there should always be opportunities to foster that learning. Training happens in every moment that something is taught and learned. The more formal training you can offer, the more employees feel like they can grow in your company which, in turn, prevents turnover.

To help your new hires grow, work with them when—not if—they come across problems. Find the time to walk through that problem together. You don’t need to hold their hand, but they do need to feel supported. What’s the difference? Teach them how to input their time in a system that’s not user-friendly or provide instructional materials instead of leaving them to trial and error. Guide them on how to effectively handle a frustrated client instead of comforting them after they’ve been yelled at. Once you start to determine your employee’s skillset and interests, encourage them to attend upcoming workshops and conferences. If you recognize their potential and support them in growing it, they’ll feel valued. Valuing them is a great way to show support, and they’ll be more likely to stay with the company.

Fixing employee turnover won’t happen overnight, but it has to start somewhere and the return on this particular investment has huge potential. Give your employees meaningful reasons to stay through opportunities to learn, grown, and be seen. You’ll reap the rewards and have dedicated, loyal, and proficient employees.