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Employee Experience

Employee Retention in Retail: Why Onboarding Matters

Written by
Ella Holland

The retail industry has long been a dynamic and vibrant sector, offering diverse job opportunities and a lively atmosphere. 

However, within this fast-paced industry lies a persistent challenge many retailers face – high employee turnover.

The average turnover rate is between 15-20%. This is considerably higher in retail, where it hovers  around 60-65%,

This high turnover rate creates a number of challenges for retailers. 

For instance, hiring and retaining new staff is costly and time consuming.

It lowers employee morale as employees watch people come and go, and impacts the overall customer experience.

High turnover also tarnishes a company’s reputation; making it more difficult to attract new talent and customers.

To mitigate the effects of this high turnover, organizations must prioritize employee retention strategies, and good onboarding is one of the most impactful strategies you could adopt.

What stood out for me this year is that we need to rethink how we attract, engage and retain talent and create cultures that empower our people, not only today, but also for the future.  

This is because effective onboarding sets the scene for employee success and improves engagement from the onset. It’s a critical process that welcomes new hires into the company and helps them feel connected from day one. 

Why onboarding matters

Employees that are unsatisfied with their onboarding are twice as likely to look elsewhere for work.

Get it right, and you could improve retention by as much as 82%.

Effective onboarding ensures faster adaptation to roles, boosts engagement, fosters a sense of belonging, and equips new hires with essential skills and knowledge.

A well-crafted onboarding experience is also a great way to give you a competitive edge, aligns your employees with your company’s culture and values, and promotes a positive work environment.

It’s vital in setting up employees for long-term success.  

Best practice

Onboarding isn’t just a list of tasks they need to complete in their first week.

What’s needed is a thoughtful and comprehensive journey that allows the new hires to also bond with co-workers and feel supported whilst they learn the ropes.  

Here’s some ideas you can easily incorporate into your onboarding journey:

A personalized welcome

This could be as simple as a welcome card or branded swag with a personalized note.

Assign a ‘Buddy’

Pairing every new hire with an experienced team member gives them a go-to person for questions. It also helps to integrate them into the team and build a bond with co-workers.

Comprehensive training programs

EquipGroup job-specific, safety and soft skills training. This might include customer service, communication, and problem solving to enhance their performance on the sales floor.  

Consider job shadowing

Shadowing experienced employees puts them in real-world scenarios without throwing them in too quickly – helping them gain confidence and become familiar with their new role.

Tours and Intros

Conduct a workplace tour and introducing new employees might seem obvious, but can often be forgotten. Ensure they get to meet different departments to help them understand the bigger picture.
Set clear expectations: Clearly defining the new employee’s role, responsibilities, and performance expectations helps them understand their purpose and contribution to the team’s success.

Regular feedback and check-ins

This helps you to address any concerns early on and also helps to fine-tune your onboarding process for the future.


Celebrating the achievements and milestones of new employees during their onboarding journey boosts morale and motivates them to continue performing well.

Cross-training opportunities

Allow new hires to explore different roles. This will help encourage skill development and provide potential career growth paths.

Use an onboarding tool

Utilizing digital onboarding and employee experience tools and platforms will allow you to streamline the process, provide access to essential resources, and enhances the overall onboarding experience.


By looking inward and upgrading your onboarding process, you can create employee advocates that are engaged, motivated and dedicated to driving your company forward.

So, let’s set the stage for success and build a retail industry that’s thriving.

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