Onboarding training – Get awestruck with Sephora’s best practices

This post is your guide to better understand how the popular beauty brand ‘Sephora’ nails the onboarding training of its employees. And, I’m sure you will learn how to transform your onboarding process into a highly educative one by the end of this article.

As an employer, you wouldn’t assign a new hire a heap of tasks and ask them to get started right away. But, this is an exaggerated equivalent of some companies’ training programs. Before training your new hires, it’s pivotal that you master the art of how to train your employees in the right way.

Why should you care about getting your onboarding right?

With the right practices to onboard and train your new hires, they will be able to see through your genuine interest in molding them and their future. This means nothing less than better employee loyalty and better retention rates. In reality, this is exactly what a lot of recruiters are lagging at. 

If there’s one thing we all need to learn from Sephora (besides doing make-up), it’s the magnitude of the importance that it places on training its employees. Onboarding and Training are two of the main attractive factors that employers use to rank their company as they scale up.

On the same lines, training is one of the attributes that employees consider to draw a decision on staying with the company. If employees don’t find the training to be educative or useful, they might not want to shell out their time as their interest would wane with time. Sephora has conquered the art of training its employees by putting the training into direct use instead of keeping it just theoretical and plain. 

A new hire at Sephora sharing her excitement on her first day! [~15:00 mins]

#1 — Invest in your new hires


From putting some secret languages into existence to educating and training the employees, Sephora sure carries its heart on its sleeves. Training is the major chunk of Sephora’s employee onboarding process. No matter what kind of experience you have or what section of the store you’ll be working in, you just can’t skip working at the cash register when you’re in Sephora. Sephora stands out phenomenally by laying out one of the best principles “Learn as you go”. If someone doesn’t have a lot of experience with makeup, they will start off working at the cash register or in the stock room. Then, as they learn on their feet, they can be promoted and move to more hands-on positions over time. This makes Sephora a great place for makeup lovers to gain experience.

“My hiring experience was based on how well I interacted with a group of people, how much energy I brought into the room, and how warm, inviting and helpful I came off,” says Chioma. “The hiring manager wasn’t focused on how much I knew about makeup or how skilled I was at it — that spoke for itself on my face during the interview process. I was surprised that I didn’t have to put makeup on a model to be hired!”

  • Every new employee at Sephora is trained and tested on the lessons they learn during their tenure. Makeup artists, for example, reportedly have to go through about a month of training, which involves watching a lot of videos. If you love makeup, that doesn’t sound so bad! Furthermore, every shift in the day starts with a training lesson.
  • Sephora also lends an opportunity to its employees to pursue their training at the Sephora University for a top-notch training program. The idea is not just to train them to the company standards but also to allow them to transform their career and hence enable them to venture into different roles within the company. Such as the ones from cashier to a full-makeup artist!

Pro-tip: Training your employees from time-to-time will make them stick around for at least a year as they might hope to learn more as they stay longer. 

Plan your onboarding training activities better with a Freshteam checklist

#2 — Trust employees to create better solutions


There are times when news hires felt one of their best moments inside the company didn’t pan out well. The reason being, either there was no host to receive them or they were all held up in a meeting. Sephora revamped this portion of their onboarding program. This is when their Employee engagement survey tool comes of use, In 2019, Sephora started a ‘Ask me anything’ forum where employees could ask any question to the management on grounds of improvisation. When there is no solution in place, the employees are trusted to pitch in and give inputs and hence co-create the solutions.

Sephora also entrusts its employees to co-create solutions by handing out gratis, which is goodies, regularly. Any new product is first tested internally by the employees and their feedback is imperative to improvise the product. And, it comes as no surprise that Sephora offers a 40% discount on its brand while about 20% on the other brands for its employees. 

We train all of our people leaders on an inclusive mindset. The idea is when we catch ourselves judging or assuming, how do we adopt a mindset that is more curious and welcoming? Externally, our employees lead classes on confidence. We have one for people who are on a cancer journey; we have a bold beauty class for the transgender community; we have one for people who are entering or reentering the workforce. The message is, “All are welcome here. We want to help you walk out feeling fearless and confident.” – The Chief People Officer @Sephora

Pro-tip: Trust your new hires inherently. When employees sense that they have the liberty to choose what they want to do, they put everything that it takes to bring the best out of themselves.

#3– Create a fun work atmosphere


Fun fact:
Folks at Sephora are always complimenting each other and creating a positive atmosphere for the fellow cast members around them. This not only boosts their confidence but gets them acquainted with their products relentlessly.

“It feels like we are performing in a play and acting for our clients. You do get a new name once you get promoted and there are many, many variations for what you could be called!” says Sarah, a cast member @Sephora.

Besides having secret language at work and complimenting their peers everyday, employees at Sephora hold a great level of confidence in them to take up any role at any point in time. Thanks to Sephora’s painstakingly extensive training programs! Such training programs boost the employees’ confidence and bring out the best in them when they take up new challenges. Personally, the employees also enjoy the sense of satisfaction they gain on getting their hands on various roles and responsibilities which is priceless and merely impossible to find elsewhere. 

Quick takeaways from Sephora’s onboarding training and culture

#1– When new hires join your company they might have a lot of questions around learning and career progression. Keep your onboarding training educational to address all of that.

#2– Training is not just about culture but also about molding your employees for the better. You can leverage this period to understand the strengths of your employees and nurture their interests. It’s a win-win situation. While their interests are nurtured, you would have employees who can co-create better solutions with you.

#3– Every new employee is a piece of clay you can mold. Train them across different roles and responsibilities so you don’t give them a chance to think about switching companies for better roles. And, this means nothing short of better retention rates.