How to make associates feel appreciated
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
In an industry that is known for high turnover and low pay, some leading retailers are working to ensure their employees are happy. In turn, they’re experiencing improved employee loyalty.
Among the ways some are boosting associate morale:
Reasonable wages: While the federal minimum wage stands at $7.25, a higher starting salary can prevent turnover and even motivate better performance during the workday. Container Store pays its in-store sales associates an average of $50,000 per year, as of 2014. Kevin Graff, president of Graff Retail, said, “The more you invest in your staff, the more they give back to you.”
Flexible scheduling: The challenges of unpredictable scheduling, particularly for those working other jobs or arranging childcare, has recently received some attention in the mainstream press. Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research, said, “If they feel like ‘schleppers,’ they’re going to act like that. It’s pretty important to treat them like the differentiators they are.”
Education support: Wegmans and Starbucks are both known for the support they provide to associates to pursue higher education. While recognizing many employees will likely move on to different careers with greater education, the overall initiative builds brand loyalty.
Guiding store managers: The right store manager can instill companywide recognition and retention. Said Chris Petersen, CEO at Integrated Marketing Solutions, “Don’t hire them to be operationally sound or based on experience of running a store; hire a manager based on those skills that develop employees that have a track record interacting with other people.”
Deeper incentives: The traditional “Store Employee of the Month” program may not hold the same kind of value it did in the past with today’s diverse communication channels and the increasing number of Millennial employees. TOMS Shoes invites employees to travel abroad to deliver shoe donations after one year with the company. Said Mr. Peterson, “Employees stay there because they feel that it’s part of something bigger than just work or just selling products.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think are some obvious and less obvious ways retailers can show their appreciation to store associates? Can you add any tips to those mentioned in the article?