4 Tips to Reduce Essential Employee Turnover in Retail

Esteban Gomez | June 8, 2021

In order to create and maintain a successful business, it is imperative you take all the necessary steps to hold onto your top essential employees.

Essential workers have gotten us through the worst of times (and of course the best of times), risking their health and safety daily while many of us have the option of keeping safe at home. We put signs in our windows thanking healthcare workers, create social media posts thanking our first responders…but essential workers span so much further – fast food workers, social workers, pharmacists, veterinarians, gas station employees, retail employees, and the list goes on. Just take a moment and reflect on how many of these people you have relied on alone in the past year? #essentialworkersrock

And without these individuals, not only would we struggle to maintain our day to day, but our economy would suffer even further. 

Employees’ needs have changed and many companies have not evolved with them. This misalignment may be why 52% of employees are planning to find a new job this year. And essential retail workers are at the top of the list – they are burned out.

So, what can you do to maintain an optimal essential worker staffing level for your retail business? We put together some tips to share with you to help you reduce your retail turnover rate and keep your business operating at optimal levels.

Tip #1: Ask your retail employees what they need to feel safe…and listen.

Over the course of the last year, businesses have spent a lot of time communicating with employees regarding policy changes, shifting to remote work where appropriate, changing store hours, etc. As restrictions are lifted, it is now equally important for these companies to listen to their employees.

Keep your door open and pay attention to the needs, feelings, and overall morale of your retail employees. Your employees need to be heard and in order to retain them, you need to listen and respond. From social distancing guidelines for customers in store to additional flexibility in scheduling working hours, your employees are likely to share with you what they need to perform their job – if you just ask them.

Employee surveys are a great first step. You can even personalize the process by recording on-demand videos where your store or team managers record themselves asking the questions. Take the input you receive from your team members and put it into action as best you can. You can’t please everyone, but you can most definitely make sure your employees feel heard. This will go a long way in creating a supportive environment, one where your essential retail workers can thrive and will want to stay.

Tip #2: Recognize your employees.

74% of employees say they want more recognition for their work. Rewarding employees for work that goes above and beyond is a great motivator and supports a culture centered around growth and achievement. Employee recognition boosts performance, increases engagement, reduces turnover rates and enhances company culture. And if that is what it takes to help you retain your essential retail  workers, that is an easy fix!

Here are a few examples of programs you can implement to recognize your employees:

  • Employee of the Month: This is a classic and works when implemented well. Get your retail workforce, from frontline employees all the way to security personnel, to vote for one of their team members. This is a great opportunity to use on-demand videos in which your employees can record themselves explaining why their nomination deserves this recognition. Want to go above and beyond? Personalize the reward for each employee (remember, listen to your employees!). And don’t forget to shout out your Employee of the Month – share who the winner is with the team and highlight the strengths mentioned by their peers, and/or use your social media platforms.
  • Years of Service Award: Times have changed. Individuals don’t tend to stay at companies for long, instead using the experience as a stepping stone toward their next opportunity. So when you have top talent that sticks around, reward them (extra paid time off, a spa day, a golf outing, etc). It will not only help retain them, your new hires will witness the recognition and may become more motivated.
  • Employee Appreciation Events:  Nothing motivates employees like their colleagues. Recognizing employees in front of one another can create more inspiration for success. Whether you are organizing celebrations, outings, or virtual parties, always remember to highlight the reasons your employees are standing out as the best of the best!
  • Monetary Employee Recognition Award: Here is a great opportunity to not only drive your employees (because who doesn’t love a great incentive?) but also prove you are listening. Your monetary rewards don’t have to cost you a lot of money. For example, a $10 gift card to the local coffee shop (for your coffee-loving employee who got a positive review from a customer ) is a great perk!

Tip #3: Keep your top retail talent engaged.

For obvious reasons, retaining top performers is key for any business. And in retail, where frontline store employees represent who you brand is to customers walking through the door, these top performers are crucial to sustained success.

However, these top performers are also the most likely to burn out, so it is vital to keep them engaged. 58% of workers say their company does not have enough growth opportunities for them to stay long term which is why it is so important to be transparent about career growth and keep the conversation flowing. Even if there is no immediate path to a promotion or ability to give a raise to a top performer, communicate with them and let them know how much they contribute to the success of your business.

Once the conditions change, creating opportunities for employee growth via internal hiring is an excellent way to help retain your top talent. Not only will your retail employees stay with you longer, your other employees will be driven by the potential opportunities. If you want to make this process effective and simple, all while reducing your turnover rate, check out our blog to learn how we can assist you in creating a successful internal hiring process.

Tip #4 Conduct stay interviews.

Conducting stay interviews to learn what keeps your retail employees working for you and what aspects they feel need to be improved is an effective way to assess turnover risk. While these are typically in person, face to face interviews, employees are often not comfortable expressing their honest feelings and opinions directly to a manager.

To overcome this communication barrier and really obtain the information you need, use an external interviewer or video interview. You can further increase the comfort level of your employees by using on-demand video interviews, which allows them to answer questions from the comfort of their own home. This will increase the chances that you are receiving honest feedback that can guide you to take the actions needed to reduce your retail turnover rate

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate
our heroes and she-roes.”

Maya Angelou

Essential workers are truly our heroes. They keep our lives running as individuals and are key to the success of our businesses. Their value is immense and needs to be recognized on the daily.  In order to create and maintain a successful retail business, it is imperative you take all the necessary steps to hold onto your top essential employees. With open ears and a little planning, you can reduce your retail turnover rate and nurture an even stronger company culture… a culture where employees want to remain, and a culture that appeals to new hires.

Start taking the steps to reduce your retail turnover –  talk to an interviewstream expert today to learn more about how we can help!

About The Author

Esteban Gomez is a marketing consultant with interviewstream. He loves learning and has a passion for traveling, having visited many countries including China, Colombia, Italy, and Peru.


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