One of a retail manager’s biggest fears is an employee’s two-week notice. The “I’m leaving” letter, email or conversation is not only a reminder of the time and money lost on that employee’s recruitment and training, but also a symbol of the company’s failure to properly engage and satisfy that employee – something no boss wants to face.
In last May alone, 645,000 retail employees left their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Traditional approaches tell managers to systematically identify and evaluate employees who are the most likely to quit. However, reactive “solutions” like these are no longer an effective solution. So, what can managers do to stop employees from leaving?
Rather than identifying and targeting at-risk employees, managers should constantly be engaging all employees before they consider leaving in the first place. From the moment an employee is hired on, managers should take care of simple activities to engage employees. Here are some of the most common ways to reduce employee turnover we’ve seen that should be held standard in the industry:
- Send quick, two-minute surveys: Unhappy employees often think that their complaints and concerns go unheard by upper management. Quick surveys that gauge employees’ opinions on supervisors, day-to-day processes and scheduling will help avoid this communication gap and decrease dissatisfaction among employees. (Not to mention, they’ll also give valuable insight on which aspects of the company need improvement.)
- Promote peer-to-peer collaboration: Employees are more likely to stay with a company that provides a supportive community of coworkers and managers. Allowing employees to collaborate at work and build a digital support network will foster strong social relationships between workers and streamline otherwise inefficient, manual tasks like trading or covering shifts.
- Make training less of a chore: Retail employees are often asked to fill roles that they feel unequipped to handle, such as working in a new department or promoting an unfamiliar product. Managers can boost their employees’ confidence by providing training that’s simple to digest and makes learning fun. This way, employees will be more likely to watch company training videos and complete evaluations about new initiatives and offerings and, in turn, will feel more motivated and better-equipped to excel at work.
- Enable two-way communication: A common complaint among dissatisfied employees is the disconnect between the head office and individual store locations when it comes to overarching objectives and information. Associates want clear, concise information from senior leaders; they also want to be able to communicate with senior leaders to provide input on leadership direction and share customer feedback. By opening a digital communication channel, leadership can directly message employees to explain policy changes, ask for their feedback and discuss ways to improve the employee experience. Most importantly, employers can make their hourly staff feel connected to the brand and valued by leadership.
Every year, retailers find themselves losing more and more of their employees due to dissatisfaction. Instead of using reactive, outdated retention programs, companies need to explore preemptive solutions to stay ahead in a tightening labor market.
Joshua Ostrega is the Chief Operating Officer of WorkJam, a digital workplace platform for the service industry. A tech entrepreneur at heart, Joshua is passionate about pushing forward new ideas and reshaping products and services to take on new global opportunities. At WorkJam, Joshua is responsible for the management and day-to-day operations of the company. Joshua graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce.