Inductions That Work - Slashing Staff Turnover By 90%

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Running Inductions that Work

Induction programmes are regularly highlighted as crucial for employee retention and a skilled workforce, but all too often they can be, as TrainingZONE member Nik Kellingley puts it, “poorly thought out, poorly implemented, cut short due to “business demand” – and these courses may actually reduce performance, value and morale.”

We asked Kellingley, workforce development project manager at the National Day Nurseries Association, how he cut staff turnover in a call centre from 95% to under 5% in the first three months. Read on for his step by step guide to success.

Case Study - Cutting Staff Turnover by 90%

The best induction success I have had was at Singlepoint 4u Ltd, which was a private Vodafone airtime supplier.

When I took over training for the sales function, staff turnover was horrific - 95% of new starters left within their first three months and the vast majority left in the first month!

The training they had been recieving was a customer care induction, which focused solely on dealing with customers in a “the customer is always right, never argue with the customer" manner and contained no product training, no training on services, no training on sales, no industry knowledge training and so on.

This meant new starters to the sales function had no idea how to do their jobs before going live on the phones and no idea what it was they were selling.

They were then integrated into teams immediately at a full sales target and instructed to get on with things. Unsurprisingly, most people couldn't cope with the demands and left immediately, those that did tough it out couldn't make their targets in the first couple of months, became demoralised and left.

Finding a solutionTeaching

As a result, a two week sales induction course was commissioned by the Sales Director. I spent some time researching what people felt would have been beneficial in an induction, the group of companies we worked for, the competition, the products, sales techniques, the industry and so on.

We finally arrived at a programme that we felt would work; the first day focused on a welcome to the group of companies and looked at our position in relation to that and also on the structure of Singlepoint and where the department and the new recruits fit into that structure.

The rest of the programme focused on industry knowledge, products and services and our competitors’. Secondly, on how to sell those products with plenty of time for role play and practice. During the course of all this we used real life examples to illustrate how to be successful and to highlight some of the down sides of a call centre sales persons life and gave them strategies to cope with the problems they'd face.

We also made sure that each day was kept short (five hours classroom time maximum) and that we assigned homework assignments (in exchange for the shortened days), which included presenting prior learning from the day before and taking that learning and putting it into a bigger picture.

Assessment

At the end of the course everyone faced a one day test, which included role plays and a written examination on everything they had learned which lasted two and a half hours and had a pass mark of 90%!

On the first run through of the course everyone passed with marks in a range of 95-100%! The look on their faces was incredible - they felt that they had really achieved something.

On each day the learners were asked to feed back as a group on that day’s training, they were given ten minutes to come up with three positive aspects of the day and three things that could have been improved. They were also asked to complete happy sheets, which enabled them to comment further on other aspects of the program.

Once they had finished the taught induction, we also made changes to the working environment. They entered a primary sales environment which meant smaller teams made up of the people they had trained with rather than entry into impersonal, already functioning, teams. They also received daily one-to-one coaching sessions and performance monitoring designed to stretch their abilities and enable them to succeed.

They also began on reduced targets and had their targets scaled up to full targets over three months.

Results

The results were remarkable. The level of staff turnover in the first three months dropped like a stone to just five per cent (which in a sales environment is pretty good) and, more astonishingly, they hit their full targets in most cases in their first month, despite being given a ramp up period to begin with.

Their comments on the course were measured and useful and were immediately used to improve the course for the next round of inductees.

How to achieve this yourself

Preparation

  • Get the support and involvement of managers, coaches and team leaders. Make sure they understand the purpose of the induction and can support the content of the induction when it is put into practice.
  • Ensure that the induction is relevant to the job that the individual is doing and try, if at all possible, not to bore them to death with procedure that does not apply to them.
  • Make sure that you make people aware at induction of the things that will most help them in their role - for salespeople cover product training, pricing, the competition and so on, as well as generic sales training.
  • Ensure your induction training is keyed to providing business benefits – such as decreasing churn in the first few months or increasing speed to full productivity. Make sure that they are measurable benefits.
  • Running Inductions

  • Understand the employees’ jobs fully and engage with people at all levels - particularly members of staff who would be your target audience. Find out what they would have liked to get from an induction when they started and what would help their managers most if they could do early doors.
  • Constantly evaluate your programmes - use happy sheets, tests, long term monitoring of staff and results. Seek feedback from participants at intervals following the course, seek feedback from managers and other interested parties, check your metrics and make sure that they are improving (even if all your feedback is excellent - the board need to know if it is making a difference to the bottom line).
  • Implement improvements in the programme as they arrive - don't make excuses. It takes very little effort to do so and means that glitches don't become ingrained.
  • The Key to Success

  • Be honest about the job and the company - don't pretend that everything is wonderful all the time, highlight the bad and the good and give coping strategies for the bad.
  • Help people to focus on the good when other (more cynical older staff) aren't doing so in the working environment.
  • Benefits to the Company

  • A good induction strategy will have a massive impact for a company at any level in terms of staff retention. First impressions do count and a great first impression of a business, combined with good preparation to do your job, will greatly increase loyalty and - as importantly - increase performance in the first few weeks.
  • It will also enable greater and faster integration with the business unit. This can all be measured in monetary terms.
  • At senior level, induction is equally important for the reasons above, but also a good induction programme for senior staff will include cultural and political awareness of the organisation to enable them to withstand some of the initial pressures of the role.
  • Do you have any pointers to add? Post your comments below.

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