Retaining employees in a retail business is notoriously challenging. Working directly with customers, merchandise and under the watchful eye of management can be too much for some people to handle day after day, and sometimes they quit abruptly—even while on the job.
There are many reasons why the retail industry faces high employee turnover rates. The job market is competitive, and other retail businesses try to attract and retain top talent. It’s hard to find the right job candidates for retail, and it’s easy to mistakenly hire people who are over-or under-qualified. Because retail profit margins are tight and wages are often low, employees can quickly become frustrated. Furthermore, people who have never worked in retail may have unrealistic expectations in terms of the job duties, hours, or chances for advancement they will encounter. The list of reasons for turnover in the retail industry goes on and on.
However, as challenging as it is to run a profitable retail business and retain loyal quality employees, it can and has been done. If you’re facing high turnover for any reason, consider implementing these five suggestions for employee retention.
Five Highly-Effective Suggestions for Employee Retention
Retail companies have struggled with the problem of employee retention for years, and as retention problems have been identified, a variety of solutions have been innovated. Strangely enough, these solutions aren’t complicated or high-tech. They mostly involve communicating with employees, asking about their workplace challenges and pain points, and making the retail environment a better, more rewarding place to work. So no matter which of these strategies you use, always make sure to communicate to employees how much you care about them and value their efforts.
#1: Strengthen Group Cohesion with Team Building Exercises.
The retail environment is undeniably stressful. Daily work pressure can affect retail employees in unhealthy ways and lead to unhealthy workplace dynamics, including conflicts between coworkers. This is a big setback because retail employees must rely on each other, as their job roles are interconnected, such as on a food preparation line. If you’re having trouble getting your staff to work together as a team, try doing team building exercises to strengthen those interpersonal relationships.
Team building exercises get people communicating with each other and working together in a conflict-free setting. This can help coworkers open up and feel more relaxed in each other’s company. Team building helps people learn more about each other and better understand, and sympathize with, how their coworkers think, work, and solve problems. It doesn’t have to take a whole day. A quick huddle meeting before the store opens can be a great start. A shout out to an employee who had gone above and beyond can work wonders. Hold a sales competition for a period in the day. And of course, reward top winners. You can also play team building games that require players to work together, enabling employees to practice the skills and get into the mindset they need to excel in the workplace.
If you can take your team out for a day of team building exercises, that’s even better. Plan for a day of team building games, highlighted by a lunch the whole group can share together. It will feel like a break away from work, like a holiday, and it will get your team’s enthusiasm running high. Best of all, use this occasion to give out rewards. You can have a recognition ceremony where you can honor your best employees in front of the whole group to give them bragging rights. You can even give out prizes, such as branded apparel and brand-name products that your employees will love. After a day of team building exercises, your group should be refreshed, on the same page, and ready to be more productive.
#2: Find and Address Employee Pain Points.
When employees leave, there’s always an underlying reason. It’s easy to get burnt-out while working in the retail industry, so you need to keep an eye out for stressed-out employees and keep an open ear to their complaints. Employees may be afraid to tell you what sorts of problems they are facing, so be understanding and work on earning their trust. This way, you can spot employee pain points and address them before turnover occurs.
Find your employee’s pain points and you may discover that your organization has pain points as well. By addressing them, you make your company a more attractive job opportunity for talented, hard working people and retain your best employees.
A common pain point for employees is the absence of a sustainable work and life balance. Employees need to have enough time away from the job to enjoy the fruits of their labor; otherwise, work becomes the overwhelming centerpiece of their life. They need to earn enough money to comfortably afford all of their cost of living expenses and have some money left over to save. These are the basic reasons why people work, and if the positions you offer do not fulfill these primary needs, employees will be unable to remain at their jobs for an extended period of time; even if they want to stay. However, keep in mind that monetary benefits can only go so far; you need to offer employees non-monetary benefits to keep them engaged and motivated in the long run.
#3: Engage with Your Employees.
Many people employed in the retail industry are currently looking for other jobs. This is a disturbing fact for management, and while you may feel frustrated with employees who look for jobs elsewhere, it’s critical to understand what’s making them want to leave. One major problem for retail retention is the limited employee engagement.
When you have excellent salespersons who can close numerous or high-value sales, you don’t want them standing around watching the clock. You need to engage productive people to make them care about their teammates and about your company, and make them want to stick around. Get talented employees involved by offering learning opportunities. Employees who are learning are more engaged in their work, and they often enjoy learning new skills even if those skills don’t directly apply to their current position.
Lastly, offer paths to leadership and advancement. An employee who has made it their goal to earn a promotion is highly-engaged. They will be more productive and do high-quality work. And make sure you give these employees the job roles they are working for, or at least some kind of public recognition that establishes them as a leader within the workplace. This acknowledgment feels like an accomplishment to the employee, and like everyone else, employees are engaged when they reap the rewards of their hard work.
#4: Only Admit Outstanding Leaders into Management Positions.
A boss—someone who shouts orders down to those below them—is not a leader. And retail employees often leave not because the company itself is unbearable, but because of a specific manager. Therefore, it’s critical that retail businesses are very careful about who they install into management positions. Only hire leaders, not bosses.
You know you have a good leader on your hands if that person values the people they lead, and can appreciate and leverage employees’ talent without feeling threatened. After all, the point of having a manager is to direct people’s labor so that the company can gain the most benefit from each employee’s talent, skills, and abilities. A good leader inspires confidence in employees and makes them feel good about their work. They also genuinely care about delivering quality service and products.
If several people reporting to the same manager leave, the manager may be experiencing difficulties in their role. View your management staff with the same clear-headed objectivity reserved for entry-level employees and you may discover the cause of turnover.
#5: Be Trustworthy.
Trustworthiness is perhaps the most important factor in maintaining good relationships that make employees want to remain at your company. This entails being honest in all you do. Build connections with each employee and remain open to what they have to say. Make transparency and honesty important values at all levels of your business. Encourage a company culture of accountability, and admit mistakes when you make them. And remember, having the ability to address a mistake before it can grow into a problem is more valuable than berating the person who made it.
Your employees will perform better when they know they can trust you and your management team. So follow through on your promises and tell the truth, even when it can lead to disappointment. And don’t forget to follow through on rewarding employees. Let them know they will be rewarded for outstanding work, and then give them the recognition and rewards they deserve. Because nothing shatters trust faster than taking away a reward that an employee has earned.
If you want to reduce employee turnover, try implementing these suggestions for employee retention. Straightening team cohesion, addressing employee pain points, engaging employees, hiring outstanding leaders, and building trust are all relevant ways to demonstrate that your business is serious about retaining employees. And if you’re ready to make your business highly attractive to top talent, implement an employee incentive program.
Being known for incentivizing, recognizing and rewarding employees will make your retail business one of the few that never has to struggle to retain its people. And being able to spend less on recruiting, onboarding, and training will make your business more effective and cost-efficient.
At Inproma, we think everyone should love coming to work and should look forward to a long career at your organization. If your retail business is facing high turnover rates, our custom employee incentive programs could be the perfect solution. Let’s talk.