Train to Retain:

How to Engage New Employees

What’s the MOST important piece of training new employees? Is it the essential tools and skills they will need to do the job? Is it the foundational elements of what will be expected of them? Is it that they read the entire employee handbook? While each of these are critical in their own way, they are not enough. Training cannot be all about technical skills, procedures, requirements, and paperwork. Human Resource professionals and business leaders have an opportunity when building or further developing their onboarding program to train to retain. 

Robust training programs that increase engagement and retention have 4 goals: 1) to educate on policies, 2) to convey expectations, 3) to welcome to the culture, and 4) to build relationships. To achieve all of these goals, many organizations have adopted the 4 C’s of onboarding model.

The 4 C's

Compliance: This is the fundamental element, or the “baseline”, of the onboarding process. While going over procedures, policies, rules, and requirements does little to engage employees, training programs miss the mark when this step is overlooked.

Clarification: This step serves as an opportunity to outline assignments and answer questions that have come up. While it may seem trivial, this step is essential to ensuring that employees feel comfortable asking for what they need to succeed.

Culture: Do not underestimate the power of implementing culture in the onboarding process. Many companies skim over this step by merely teaching employees about the values and mission of the organization in the training process. That is not enough to help employees identify themselves as a part of the organization and feel as though they belong. Programs that train to retain should include company norms, traditions, shared values and any essential or influential elements of the culture in their training process. 

Connection: This step cannot be overlooked. Organizations that offer relationship building opportunities in their training program increase both retention and engagement in their workforce. It is important to note here that new hires should not only have opportunities to connect with their peers and fellow new hires. They should be given a chance to connect with individuals throughout the organization and from multiple levels of leadership. This helps them feel as though they are accepted by and are comfortable with those around them. 

The connection and culture pieces are essential to training to retain. According to OC Tanner’s 2023 Global Culture Report, a sense of belonging in the workplace has the power to increase retention by 43%. A sense of belonging stems from both the culture and the connection elements of training. As employees recognize elements of the company culture that they identify with, they begin to feel as though they are a part of something. As they form relationships with not only their peers, but also many others throughout multiple levels of the organization, they begin to feel as though they are accepted and they belong. And that’s how we train to retain. We open doors for communication and we create opportunities for connection, acceptance, and belonging.

“People will typically be more enthusiastic where they feel a sense of belonging and see themselves as part of a community than they will in a workplace in which each person is left to [their] own devices.” - Alfie Kohn, Author.