Executives hoped employees would leave the training more engaged with the company and "walk away with new skills that they would apply," Malishenko said. "We felt like their increased engagement would ultimately get them through those rough spots they experience in the first six months. Once we get them past a year, the retention level skyrockets."
Germain invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into a facility dedicated to training and hired a director of training — a former general manager who always had a passion for development.
"We needed to do whatever we could to show a commitment to this," Steve Germain said. "The university came about because of my sincere interest in trying to affect our turnover."
Germain, Malishenko and Brian Jordan, director of training and development, built a curriculum with the general managers.
Jordan coordinates and reinforces the training sessions, which usually last about three hours. The number of sessions required per year varies by job, but most employees completed three in 2020. Most sessions are led by Germain vendors who had visited the stores for routine training but often struggled to get employees to take time away from their posts.
"It was never really a quality experience. We took our existing training relationships with our partners and coordinated it," Malishenko said. "Trainers won because their biggest challenge is getting anyone to sit down and pay attention. We felt like if we can take our people off-site in a college-like environment, it would improve the quality of the training experience and retention would be better."