It started like a perfect project. The company had realized the huge cost of non-productive time for sales new hires and the crippling cost of their high turnover. Sales leaders had finally decided to dedicate funds and resources to developing a formal new hire onboarding program. A team was assembled, goals set, KPIs created and the needs analysis kicked off. Since new hires were managed by the sales managers, it made sense to gather some top sales managers and use their experience to develop the exit skills required of a new hire. A few fact-finding sessions were held and in short order, the program had a needs list signed off by senior management and curriculum development duly churned out the Quick-Start Program.
Quick-Start began with an in-depth review of compensation spreadsheets, benefits information, and a quick peek at the performance review system (the sales managers had all agreed that new hires had endless questions for them in these areas). Next came working sessions with the CRM tool to build confidence in entering their opportunity information. Then a special instructor came into the class to teach the complex order entry system (sales managers specifically said this should be covered in class because many salespeople needed help navigating the system whenever a sale was made). The last instructor-led session was “cold-calling” so the sales reps could immediately start calling and become productive.
Of course, their training wasn’t complete with just the instructor-led session. They completed hours of online product training courses, and webinars with trainers at different times through the week, and each section was signed off by the sales manager as completed as new salespeople demonstrated the skills.
After a year of this perfectly conceived and designed program, the results were gathered. 100% of sales new-hires completed all steps of the program, as indicated by sales manager sign-offs of mandatory checkpoints along the way. That was the only good news. Sales Productivity dropped 45% for the first six months of the new hire’s career and new hire turnover increased by 200%. The Quick-Start Program was a dismal failure.
Why did it fail? It shares common failures with many unsuccessful onboarding programs.
The SHRM Foundation’s research into the field tells us that up to 20% of staff turnover within the first 45 days of employment is primarily due to bad onboarding. Careerbuilder research reveals that more than 36% of companies lack a structured onboarding program. And ATD reports that 49% of employers with structured programs said their employees were more engaged and had lower turnover.  It’s clear the data demonstrates a good onboarding program can be of tremendous impact, so what are the key areas that make or break a program?
Employers are wise to consider how onboarding could bring engaged, productive employees into the workforce (and keep them there!).
Our clients and the training community ask us questions and often consistent themes emerge. From making learning stick to developing skills we once assumed every employee possessed, the challenges today’s businesses face can be transformed through a strong learning culture.
Every year, the learning and development industry presents exciting developments, time-saving innovations, and new research. Solutions Arts follows and tests theories, practices, and technologies, and our clients benefit from what we learn. We value sharing what we learn and the opportunity to discuss it here on our blog.