How Lowe’s starts employees off right with frontline-first onboarding

Dan Boesley
4 min read

The challenge for frontline employees starting a new role is significant as they are expected to quickly be able to perform in customer-facing roles. Poor onboarding is associated with higher employee turnover, which can have serious implications for the business. According to Aberdeen Group, new employees are 69% more likely to stay longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding.


Mapping out a frontline-first approach to onboarding

“Rather than saying, this is going to take you 30 days, or this is going to take you X amount of hours, instead we broke it down into shifts. Because that’s how our employees think.” Jamie Furey, VP Talent Management, Learning and Diversity at Lowe's explained.

This helps employees know what’s coming next and gives them a sense of their progress.


Focusing on the five key behaviours associates need to succeed

“We went on this quest to figure out the five things that are most important for associates to get done when they first start, for every department at Lowe’s,” Furey explained.

“We rooted our onboarding program around those five most important things, and how we could break them down in a really digestible way.”

This meant developing new content—800 micro videos as well as a host of quizzes, images and hands-on activities. The content was hyper-personalised to each department and served up in different modalities to accommodate different learning styles.


Continuous learning keeps employee knowledge fresh

“It takes away that notion that employees have to learn everything all at once, that we train them once and set them loose. We’ve really adapted a mentality at Lowe’s that training is continuous,” says Furey.

“We believe that training has to be there at all the moments that matter. In retail, those moments are when you start, when you interact with a customer, when we change over our products and trends. There are so many moments that matter, so we just knew that we had to be there more often.”


Learning on the floor, in the flow of work

All too often, onboarding takes place in the backroom or a conference room, far from the places where the real work happens. Furey and her team wanted to change this dynamic, instead delivering training on the floor, in the context that it will be applied. Not only does this make training more accessible, it also helps make it stick.

The combination of personalised training content, accessible in the moment of need, is proving to be a game-changer.


Enabling effective mentorship with training data

“In all of our leadership programs, we talk about the importance of development for employees. So we’re driving it home in that population. That’s one component. Secondly, we’re mirroring the approach we took to creating employee onboarding and personalizing it for store managers,” said Furey.

“Store managers’ onboarding experience will be the same experience their teams are going through. So they’ll truly have empathy and understand what it takes to make it through those five key behaviours.”

Store managers can also see their teams’ training stats, identify top performers and areas of weakness and adjust their coaching accordingly.

Looking for more tips and tricks? Download the infographic -  How Lowe’s starts employees off right with frontline-first onboarding from the AxoniCom Retail here.

If you missed the live session, you can now access the full recording AxoniCom RETAIL: The Future of the Retail Frontline on-demand over here.

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