Knowing how to reduce employee turnover is one of the biggest challenges for retail business owners. Notorious for high turnover, businesses in the retail industry can struggle with retention since there are usually few benefits offered to employees, jobs are often low paying, and shift work can be demanding. That’s why it is vital for retail businesses to focus on effective retention techniques, or risk losing any competitive advantage they have due to an endless turnover in reliable staff. Take sufficient time and interest to assess what's needed to help keep employees motivated and fulfilled (and more inclined to stay) rather than abandon the job after a few weeks or months. These five suggestions can help get you started:
1. Recruit and hire wisely. The impulse to fill an open position with the first person who seems relatively suitable for the job may be tempting, but it might not be a good long-term decision. Remember, many of these individuals represent the customer-facing aspects of your business. That’s why it’s worth taking the time to look for candidates who demonstrate patience, enthusiasm for customer service, and a willingness to work as part of a team. Allow yourself ample time during the hiring process for recruiting, interviewing, and vetting job candidates before making a decision.
2. Money matters. Retail businesses can't always offer competitive salaries and bonus packages. But money matters to retail workers, just as it does to employees in other sectors. According to a 2016 Gallup survey, 44 percent of employees said they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20 percent or less. If your budget allows for it, look for ways to "bump up" wages as a means of retention.
3. Offer fair shift schedules. The demands of shift work can play a crucial role for your workforce. Retail employees often struggle to balance part- or full-time jobs with family duties, educational pursuits, and other demands on their time. This struggle can intensify when they're faced with irregular job schedules, not knowing from week to week when they're on duty and when they're not.
You stand a greater chance of mitigating this frustration by accommodating individual schedules as best as possible. Establish a system for scheduling and exchanging shifts, and communicate the process so that everyone understands the expectations. A time and attendance system can help you manage these tasks more efficiently.
4. Provide training and advancement opportunities. Explore opportunities to provide training so employees can improve their customer-service skills or their abilities within your niche in the retail industry. Becoming more knowledgeable can also enhance their confidence in promoting your offerings and providing better service to both customers and prospects.
Training can also play an important role when employees are looking for opportunities to grow within the company. Promoting from within can be a strong retention tool; low-level staff can see the chance to move ahead (and earn more money) by sticking with the business. Look for other ways to reward individuals who take on additional responsibilities, such as a one-time bonus incentive or extra time off. Employees usually respond favorably when they're recognized and rewarded for the work they do.
5. Improve communications. Employees who leave a retail business may cite feelings of being overworked, under-appreciated, or kept out of the loop. As part of your retention efforts, look to improve communication with your team about what's needed to serve your customers, and ask for their input on this critical issue. They'll likely feel more involved if their feedback is taken seriously.
Finally, demonstrating your appreciation for a job well done can go a long way. As noted, monetary compensation isn't always an option, so explore other ways to thank your hard-working team: added paid time off, discount movie tickets or restaurant coupons, an afternoon spent off-site with fun activities, or going to a baseball game. These efforts can enhance a sense of working together – and may help convince your workers to stay put.