“Our new hire cohort started with 12 but after two weeks and 78 hours of self-based video onboarding, only three of us were left.” — Bonnie, Utilization Review Nurse
“After three months of hearing the mantra, ‘It’s a crazy time’ and countless promises that I’d get the training I needed soon, I just couldn’t hang in there any longer.” — Alex, Customer Support Representative
New hires are withdrawing their engagement and joining other ”quiet quitters” in record numbers. Others are expressing this sentiment more overtly as they quit loudly, slamming the door on the way out. And they’re doing it more quickly than ever before. In a Bamboo HR study, 31% of the 1000 US workers polled had left a job within the first six month. For many, it is not that the eventual work that a new hire would perform is not interesting or fulfilling, but rather in many cases new hires cannot even get to the actual work because onboarding processes and training are not meeting their needs as they try to adjust to a new company, team, and new work.
As longtime learning professionals, we place a high value on effective development. Even so, we frequently find ourselves cringing when an organization or leader proposes the knee-jerk, “Let’s fix it with training.” Often when a company has employee engagement or retention issues, the problem isn’t with training. But recently, we’ve observed a troubling trend where inadequate or insufficient training is in fact contributing to a problem.
It’s not just new hires who are concerned about the state of learning within their organizations. Recent research conducted by MIT Sloan and Deloitte suggests that only 34% of employees are happy with their organization’s investment in their skills development. According to a study conducted by Degreed, 46% of leaders and employees alike predict their current core skills will be “obsolete within five years” and another whopping 46% of workers worldwide are more likely to leave if their employers don’t offer them opportunities to upskill.
Given these statistics and stakes, now is the time to emphasize effective training—for new hires and existing employees alike. In fact, it’s necessary to take action if any of the following happens. Does your organization tend to. . .
- Bring people on without a clear plan and with no one designated to train or support them?
- Approach training of new hires and existing employees like a side job, to be squeezed in as time permits?
- Assume learning will happen organically by observing others?
- Defund, delay, or defer learning initiatives to another time “when things settle down”?
These common responses hinder new and seasoned employees in acquiring and mastering the skills they need to be effective in today’s intense and fast-changing workplace. The good news is that there are many people in an organization who can address and reverse these deficits through simple actions.
Whether you’re an L&D practitioner charged with delivering effective learning, a manager or team leader who appreciates and is willing to play a key role in ensuring training effectiveness, or an individual employee or new hire who’s committed to growth and development, there are concrete steps you can take to go from quiet quitting to quiet confidence and potent new levels of skill.
If you lead or work within the L&D function:Identify one or two team leaders who recognize attrition risks and are eager (or desperate) for help in bringing new people to their teams or leveling up current team members’ skill levels. Share internal resources with them. Partner with them to implement small steps and provide support that nudges them toward developing their teams more effectively. While many L&D professionals work toward scale through sweeping enterprise-wide initiatives, it’s more effective to start small and go slow at first. That will help you go far and faster later.
Find “bright spots,” teams that excel at onboarding, training, and retaining new team members (as evidenced by increasing productivity, low turnover, and high referral rates for potential hires.) Deconstruct their approach and communicate their best practices to others via simple-to-follow checklists and resources.
Make technology complement person-to-person training. Onboarding and training aren’t just about providing skills and knowledge training. They are about connecting with people and giving them a sense of belonging. They help new and seasoned employees confirm that this is the right place for them and that the organization is invested in their future.
If you’re a leader or manager:Identify a primary point of contact for training. This offers a robust development opportunity for someone aspiring to leadership or other roles while ensuring the accountability required for a sustained commitment to onboarding and upskilling. Help them carve out the time necessary to take on this role by adjusting workload, job descriptions, and goals. The additional responsibilities that come with this new role are too important to be squeezed into their “real job” and an already full set of priorities.
Make learning a team sport. Institute a buddy system that partners those developing new capabilities with those who’ve already acquired them and can act as coaches and resources.
Actively and visibly support learning. This looks like offering the tools, resources, and development that trainers require;helping employees set learning goals; checking in on the process; modeling key skills and behaviors; and offering ongoing feedback and coaching to elevate developing capabilities.
If you’re charged with training or onboarding other team members:Lead with empathy. Consider what it was like when you joined the organization or learned a new skill. How did you feel? What was challenging or helpful?
Look for ways to streamline. Keep track of what trainees need with an eye toward creating tools, examples, and resources that you and others can use to be more effective.
Recognize individual differences in learning styles. Just because something worked for you or one trainee, doesn’t mean it will work for all. Engage in small experiments to expand your range of workable approaches.
If you are the new or seasoned employee:Be an active partner in your learning. Managers, team leaders, and trainers aren’t mind readers. You must speak up, share your needs, and ask for the support that will help you optimize your development and performance.
Organizations face daunting challenges. Onboarding and skills development don’t have to be among them. In our experience employees place a lot of value on the attention and training they receive.
“After my previous onboarding and training experiences, I very much appreciated how organized my new manager was and how well she adjusted things once I explained how I learn best.” — Ravi, Business Development Lead