Talent Retention: How is Your Onboarding Process?

Among the ten pillars for a successful retail operation, Talent Retention is the SECOND PILLAR in The Ultimate Retail Manual that is usually the most overlooked and undervalued of all the pillars. The other nine pillars are working towards growth, expansion, increased sales, etc. The Great Resignation has shined a massive spotlight on the paramount importance of retaining top-tier talent. This pillar is imperative in today’s digital world, where many retailers are scuffling to acquire top-notch talent, which is getting progressively harder to attract and retain.

There is a cornucopia of retailers who “walk the talk” regarding talent retention through their concerted efforts. In my experience, some hiring managers, executive leaders, and C-Suite team members will adamantly state that talent retention is important or urgent to their organization. However, many of their actions and attitudes are not SYNCHRONOUS with their message.

This “tongue in cheek” pattern can become detrimental to the long-term success of any company. If left unchecked, it can spark a chain reaction that echoes throughout the organization. After talent acquisition, talent retention should remain at the top of the list for any company, not just in the retail sector.

If your organization does not retain top-tier talent, your competition will undoubtedly capture those employees/managers that you let slip through your fingers. Every year in the NFL, many coaches are terminated for not winning while the owner always believes it is the coach’s fault. Sometimes it is their fault; however, if the owner, general manager, and executives continue to draft and employ subpar talented players, the coaching staff can only “coach them up” so much.

There comes the point of diminishing returns when your store/company is chock full of average talent throughout your organization. This dystopian situation will usually result in decreased revenue, customer dissatisfaction, poor morale, high management turnover, and declining income levels. Talent retention must be a mindset that permeates the entire company from the CEO down to the newly promoted Department Head, which begins with a stellar onboarding program that is inclusive and exciting.

Related Article: Talent Acquisition: The Interview Process

Companies that provide world-class onboarding programs have some common denominators that are prevalent in each successful onboarding experience:

  1. Fully committed to a complex and thorough training program that prepares the associate/manager for their specific roles and responsibilities.
  2. Allocate the appropriate amount of time to complete the training program. Managers usually receive anywhere from four weeks up to 12 weeks, while associates typically receive 40-80 hours with more time allocated for “specialized areas” within the store.
  3. The organization provides superior instructors that garnered credibility through their history and work experience.
  4. Schedule thoroughly educated instructors on how to deliver their training materials through all four learning methods (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic).
  5.  Assign instructors who are passionate yet engaging with the training materials. At the same time, they felt honored and privileged to be there.
  6. Deliver a learning program that is structured and organized, which encourages massive employee interaction.
  7. Resources are allocated to complete the program, which is never postponed or shortened due to any circumstance.
  8. The program consists of daily/weekly assessments to ascertain associate/manager retention of the materials.

The pandemic has created a “trebuchet of change” that is accelerating the timeline for retailers’ investment in their talent retention strategies, e.g., granting autonomy, embracing flex-scheduling options, increased wages, enhanced benefits, education opportunities, advancement programs, and genuinely listening and reacting to employee/leader feedback.

“Hiring and retaining top-tier talent are the new business currencies in 2022.” (By Jeffrey P. McNulty) It is challenging to maintain an environment of inclusion, creativity, autonomy, and culture if you cannot master the interview process, the onboarding experience, the succession planning process, and employee/leadership retention protocols.

The following three questions sum up the acronym I created called G.A.P., which massively increases retention, employee satisfaction, and productivity:


  1. How is your succession planning process?
  2. What is your policy on granting autonomy to your employees and leaders?
  3. How does your culture and values align with employee purpose?

In the next article, I will discuss Talent Retention Part Two: The Performance Review Process.