How to keep your retail staff when everyone else wants them

When it comes to maintaining your retail workforce, it is always wise to remember that every minute you spend working to ensure your staff are happy, is a minute you won’t need to be interviewing to find their replacement.

Exhaustive recruitment processes, dedicated training programs, replacement uniforms and all manner of administrative updates are just a few of the tasks (and their associated costs) generated when a staff member decides to look for greener pastures elsewhere.

With a significant amount of time and resources invested in maintaining a skilled and knowledgeable team, it is more important than ever to do what you can as an employer to keep your staff.

We look at six tips to help you do just that.

  1. Ask staff what they want and listen to them. For some workers, the most important thing in their role will be having set shifts and income each week while for others it means knowing they have flexibility around university timetables or school holidays.
  2. Keep your communication channels open. If your staff can’t talk to you, chances are they won’t want to work for you.
  3. Employ the right staff for the right job. Staff with strong people skills will likely excel at front of house while introverts may do a brilliant job in a non-customer-facing role. Know what your staff’s strengths are and make those strengths work for you.
  4. Reward your staff. This can be done in a multitude of ways, from throwing them a fantastic end-of-year party to staff bonuses. Competitions with prizes for best sales staff go a long way and promote healthy competition.
  5. Keep it fun. Yes, it is important to stay business-minded in your approach but being professional and having fun are not mutually exclusive. Businesses where staff are happy are much more likely to keep staff, it’s that simple!
  6. Employ the right mix of staff. Businesses can fall into the trap of hiring the same type of employee over and again, such as students, because that’s what they have always done. Branch out and hire staff who may not fit your usual pattern such as older staff who can prove to be reliable and be able to mentor and teach younger staff.

It is not the goal of every business to keep their staff employed long-term, such as businesses which draw their workforce from high schools or operate seasonally.

For others however, it is important to look at ways they can retain their workforce to carry them through both the busy and quiet times. This can be tough for the retail sector which can experience mad peaks during holidays such as Christmas and Easter, and much quieter trading at other times.

Start with a conversation by finding out what your staff want, to make sure they understand your needs and expectations as a business owner or manager and to help you understand what they need from you and build from there.

For some businesses, young staff who will work for them for a year or two may be perfect while other business want long-term staff they know will be around for a number of years. Getting the right staff mix is so important.

To this end, it may be worth looking to employ workers who don’t fit the mold of your usual staff and perhaps a combination of older and younger staff to better reflect your target market.