How to Empower Your Workforce in Retail


5 min read

How to Empower Your Workforce in Retail

Jonne Tanskanen

Apr 10, 2019


    How to Empower Your Workforce in Retail

    If you deal with any aspect of retail workforce management, then you are familiar with these two issues: retention and atmosphere. Keeping employees happy with the company is a struggle for almost any business, but it’s especially difficult for stores or other public-facing businesses.

    Many retailers choose to let these employees go and just hire new ones because it’s easier to do that than to make changes that could improve employee satisfaction and retention. However, the ease of that process comes at a cost. And it’s a pretty high one.

    Let’s say you have a store with 20 employees. According to research conducted by Bloomberg, retailers lose five percent of their staff each month, and it costs approximately 16 percent of an employee’s salary to replace them. So, if you pay your employees £10 per hour, it will cost £2,000 to replace a part-time employee and £3,000 to replace a full-time employee. This means you spend between £2,000 and £3,000 for training new workers every month. That seems like an excessive retail employee management expense.

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    Would you rather spend that money on other areas of your business? There are ways that you can keep your employees and not have to constantly train new ones. You have to reframe your mindset about managing retail employees.

    Let Them Have Fun

    The retail environment should be enjoyable for everyone. People should have fun while shopping in your store, and your employees should enjoy helping customers during their shopping experience.

    Let your employees create a positive atmosphere, based on the target demographics of your customers and your employees (which often match the demographics of your customers). People who enjoy their work are better at it, which leads to more positive customer responses and sales.

    It’s Cheaper to Keep Them

    As outlined above, each new employee will cost several thousand dollars to replace. It makes more sense to retain the employees you have than to constantly keep starting from scratch. If all your employees are new, you won’t get those seasoned sales professionals who can really help turn a casual browser into a buyer. And every retail establishment needs at least one experienced closer.

    Be Flexible with the Scheduling

    Having 30 employees (most of them part-time) might seem counterintuitive to your training on how to manage retail employees, but it’s actually a wise approach. The bulk of current retail workers are Millennials, and according to research, they want a better work-life balance. Offering flexible work schedules for these employees keeps them happy and with the company. And although scheduling two dozen part-time employees can be a challenge, there is software out there that can help. Just input your coverage needs and your employees’ availability, and the schedule practically plans itself.

    woman retail

    Choose the Ones You Like, Not the Ones Already Trained

    Logically, it probably makes more sense to hire employees who are already trained in retail. After all, if turnover is going to stay high, might as well shave some time off the training, right? If you’re sticking with the traditional mindset, then sure.

    But if you are striving to keep employees and create a positive atmosphere, then you might want to hire the employees you like over the ones you don’t have to train. Ultimately, the best employee has both the experience and personality to do the job. But if you can only have one, as Bruce Nordstrom stated, “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can’t hire salespeople and teach them to be nice.”

    If you want to empower your retail workforce and make them feel like they are part of the team, create a team they want to join and stay with. Retail employee management needn’t be a dictatorship. There is plenty of room for employee input, which in turn rewards your company with a positive work environment and better retention.

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