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Retaining Retail Staff: Employee Retention Strategies 2021


Employee retention strategies can include compensation/salary, policies, benefits, office perks and activities to encourage a good company culture. When planning these strategies and initiatives the overarching goal is to reduce employee turnover and keep top talent. This has become increasingly important within the retail sector during the Covid pandemic as essential retail operations stay open and are busier than ever before.

Why is it important for a company to have good retention strategies?

There are a number of factors that prove the importance of retention within the retail sector, especially during a global pandemic. These include:

  • Keeping talent who know how things operate – employees who have been with a company for a certain length of time are of great value to the company as they have gained the necessary skills and experience to understand the company’s vision and work at a highly productive rate.

  • Competitive edge – some retail positions require a level of skill/experience or interest to complete daily tasks with some employees being better than others. Example – Bakers. It is highly important to retain strong members of the team due to their ability to deliver good quality products and giving a competitive advantage over other stores.

  • Reduction of company costs – employees who stay with a company are trained and equipped with experience that will take time and effort to train a new employee, especially those in senior positions. Sourcing, training and onboarding can be expensive for companies so when they find strong staff they're worth holding on to.

  • Leakage of company information – employees with a number of years of experience will be equipped with vast company knowledge. When a strong Senior member of the team leaves he or she is carrying forward the current organisation's vital information/knowledge and potentially sharing it with competitors.

  • Candidate shortage – In certain positions, there is a shortage of talent, for example, Scratch Bakers, Butchers and Strong Merchandiser candidates. If employees with these skills leave it can impact a company’s production rate and they may miss out on sales as a result.

  • Customer loyalty – Ireland is a small country and the retail industry has put a lot of interest in community development. Customers and clients will notice changes within the company and this can trigger customers to wonder why certain employees left. When the people they’re used to dealing with leave, it can put a bad taste in their mouth, leaving your future working relationship with that customer in doubt.

Reasons good retail staff will start thinking of leaving

With this in mind, there are a number of key reasons good retail staff will start thinking of leaving that you can look out for and future plan for.

  • Progression - The candidate feels he/she has accomplished what they can in their current role and is ready for further responsibilities.

  • More aligned work – The candidate is going for a new role that they feel is more aligned to their personal interests.

  • Multinational companies – The candidate is going for a new role with a new company that they feel will bring more future progression and opportunities and more scope for progression.

  • Pay - The candidate feels underpaid/undervalued in his/her current role.

  • Responsibilities - The candidate feels that some of the responsibility they need to develop has been over-promised.

  • Reward - If the candidate is not being rewarded/recognised properly this can make them unhappy and impact retention levels.

  • Relationships - Negative workplace relationships will contribute to why an employee would be ready to move to a new company.

  • Skillset - They have reached their peak in their skillset, moved through ranks and feel there are no more progression opportunities.

What can you do to retain retail staff?

If you think your employees might be fatigued or impacted by any of the above you should react with the correct correspondence. There is a number of ways companies can retain retail staff including:

  1. Compensation/Benefits and Pay

If your employees feel undervalued for the level of work/commitment, they are providing on a daily basis they are likely to start looking for a new role. Pay/Salary is not a primary motivator to all candidates, but we all have a common interest to increase our basic pay.

If increasing wages isn’t an option there are other options including increased annual leave, pension/health care contribution, saving accounts, strong bonus structures and benefits in kind.

  1. Internal Promotions

In the case that an employee has overachieved on the KPIs/responsibilities, it may be time to consider a promotion. Most candidates within the Retail sector want constant progression.

Leaving a strong candidate in the same position for a long time can lead to work-related dissatisfaction and cause them to leave to go somewhere they can develop. It really is vital to invest in and progress your best talent.

  1. Training & Development

Like the point above, training & developing your employees can help them feel valued and ensure they are on a good career trajectory. Employees feel valued while upskilling, increasing job satisfaction and motivation.

  1. Honest communication

Clear communication is critical to the success of a retail company. You need to be strict but honest and transparent, eliminating double standards and any possible misunderstandings. Make sure that the staff members are clear about your expectations.

Don’t talk behind their back or hide important information. Instead, regularly organise group meetings and talk to each employee individually. That way, you can achieve the highest level of transparency, encourage good team morale and ensure everyone knows what’s expected and why.

  1. Management Development programs

In recent years some of Ireland’s leading Retailers have developed and launched Trainee Management programs which have been very successful. This ties in with progression/Training and Development and will ensure that an employee is satisfied and growing within the company, instead of looking for new roles elsewhere.

  1. Show Appreciation

A comment as small as “Well Done” can make a difference, especially in Retail. By showing someone, you are aware of what they are working hard and have achieved good results they will feel more appreciated.

Overall if you want to keep your best employees it’s important to invest time into their career progression and day to day happiness and motivation. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference.

Struggling to retain your top retail staff or in need of new team members? Get in touch I'd be happy to advise