The recent ATD Research study, Onboard, Engage, and Develop: How Organizations Improve Effectiveness, offers an inside look at how New York Community Bank (NYCB) improved its new hire onboarding.
In 2014, Claudette Nunez, director of employee development and training at New York Community Bank, and her team decided to focus on improving onboarding. With a growing business comprising 226 branch offices spanning five states, NYCB needed to more efficiently prepare its new employees to perform their job responsibilities.
Recognizing this, Nunez, working with NYCB’s talent development team, decided to focus on onboarding for retail-banking employees ranging from bank tellers to regional managers—many of whom are the main point of interaction for customers. In 2013, it took up to 30 days for new retail-banking employees to receive the training they needed to start in their new position. NYCB redesigned its training program to ensure that new retail-banking employees, regardless of their position, quickly developed the skills needed to perform their jobs well and deliver the stellar customer experiences that drive sales and customer loyalty.
The Redesigned New Hire Training Program
In 2014, Nunez introduced a relaunch of NYCB’s training program for new retail-banking employees. By offering frequent training sessions across several different locations, she and her team made it easy for employees to receive the training they needed to start serving customers much more quickly.
The 8-Day Program
Unlike the previous training program, in which a new employee might not begin structured training for as long as 30 days after being hired, the new program required employees to attend an orientation, in which the human resources department provided a general introduction to the company on their first day of employment; employees then began new hire training on their second day. Over the next seven days, employees received eight hours of training each day. The classes, led by instructors, were scheduled at every location across multiple states at least every three weeks.
During the seven days of live instructor-led classes, instructors strove to create a multifaceted environment to engage every type of learner. The program used a variety of different instructional methods, including independent activities, group activities, video clips, discussions, quizzes, games, and role playing. The training classes covered topics such as an overview of banking, the history of NYCB, branch-opening procedures, product training, sales and service, and check fraud. After completing the program, employees would arrive at their job location equipped with the fundamental skills they needed to perform their day-to-day responsibilities.
After the initial eight-day program, the talent development team provided the new employees’ managers with graded evaluations of their attendance, professionalism, participation, knowledge, and skills while attending class. If an employee needed further training, the evaluation would also include additional items that an experienced member of the branch staff could cover. The evaluation would become part of the employee’s file and be referenced when considering an employee for promotion.
New hires were also given access to a special online discussion board for their first 90 days of employment. This discussion board provided a closed space in which to communicate and share information with other new employees, including those working at other branches. Because this social learning tool proved successful in promoting employee knowledge sharing and improving engagement, NYCB has since made the discussion board open to all employees.
As a result of the program, onboarding for retail-banking employees began on their first day instead of sometime during their first 30 days on the job. Employees trained under the new program have been able to perform their job duties at a pace that is 74 percent faster than those trained under the previous program.