Hiring in Retail: 7 Strategies to Hire and Retain Superstar Employees

retail employee in flower shop

Retail businesses have struggled for a long time to hire and retain great employees.

This struggle has become worse during the past few years. Many retail businesses have cut their hours or permanently closed because they don’t have enough staff to service their customers.

Competition for retail employees is fierce.

There are many reasons for this. Some employees struggled during the pandemic and decided not to return to work. Others have prioritized their health, created a better work-life balance, or found better opportunities.

Great retail employees can help you sell more products, be more efficient, and serve customers better.

How do you find the best performers?

1. Prioritize attitude when hiring

Some skills can be easily taught. But others, such as interpersonal skills, work ethic, flexibility, problem-solving, etc., are more difficult to teach.

For example, it’s nearly impossible to teach someone to have a great attitude and personality.

So, when hiring retail employees, look for people with a great attitude and friendly personalities. You can teach most skills, but if someone is an introvert with a very quiet nature, it’s tough to teach them to interact well with customers.

Hiring the right people is especially critical if you’re starting a business. Your initial employees will set your overall culture and will naturally impact everyone you hire in the future.

And by hiring employees with a great attitude, you strengthen your retail branding and can ensure that you create strong opportunities for emotional branding in your stores. After all, you want your employees to tell genuine stories about your business and bond with customers. This can happen only if your employees have a great attitude that impresses customers and prospects.

When hiring based on attitude, ask these questions:

  • Can this person communicate well with people?
  • Does this person know how to handle stressful situations?
  • Is this person good with time management?
  • Is this person willing and eager to learn?
  • Is this person a team player?
  • Does this person value feedback?

It’s also vital to find someone who can get along with the rest of the team, as this can trickle down to help create a healthy working environment for your business.

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2. Provide competitive compensation and benefits

A well-paid employee is a happy employee – and is more than willing to stay. Increase employee retention and motivation by compensating well and providing good benefits.

Competitive compensation and benefits are more expensive but can help your business.

When people leave (as frequently happens in retail), it costs you time and money to find replacements. So by paying a bit more upfront, you save money over the long term.

Competitive compensation and benefits can also help you hire younger employees. For example, millennials value flexible vacations and working hours. If you can offer both, you can compete for better candidates.

3. Recognize hard work

Everybody wants to be recognized for their hard work. And working in retail is not easy.

Employees have to handle all kinds of customers all day for a minimum of eight hours. But your employees are also human, and it’s important to show appreciation to make them happy and heard.

One way to show employee appreciation is to create unique employee recognition programs. These programs can be customized according to your brand’s standards or what your employees want – after all, they’re the recipients of these programs.

For example, Zappos encourages employees to recognize each other’s hard work through incentives. Employees are allowed to give each other $50 for going the extra mile at their job.

4. Offer flexible working conditions

Flexibility is vital to a business and its employees. Offer flexible work options to help employees create a better work-life balance.

For example, not every job in retail requires someone to work at a physical retail location. Some jobs, such as telephone orders in a restaurant, can be done remotely. So, assess the positions in your business and allow some flexibility where appropriate.

5. Create a meaningful and healthy working environment

People see working in retail as unfulfilling or less significant than other jobs. You must dispel this notion by creating a healthy and meaningful working environment as an employer.

Workers in today’s world want to feel like they’re working towards something meaningful. So, using technology and automation lessens the burden of doing monotonous tasks such as creating sales reports, stock audits, etc.

Let your employees focus instead on interacting with customers. Make them feel like they’re not robots working the same job every day to avoid burnout and loss of job interest.

Another way to promote a meaningful working environment is to support a cause that your employees believe in. This will help create a sense of unity and understanding among employees.

For example, Lush creates a healthy working environment for its employees by promoting diversity. The company also donates to charities, and the employees themselves genuinely believe in their products – which makes marketing to customers more effective.

6. Allow growth and career opportunities

Employees want options for growth. Providing avenues for career opportunities can help make employees feel less trapped and can help them become an essential part of the business’s future.

So, set clear expectations and help your employees learn new skills that can let them help you in other areas.

Your employees’ growth will ultimately reflect on your business. Capable and qualified employees can make any business a success.

For example, Lululemon Athletica is a top athletic apparel company known for helping its employees learn more about the athletic retail industry and helping them grow professionally. The company offers free classes in their stores for employees and allows employees to be reimbursed up to $25 each week for community-based health and wellness programs.

7. Promote a two-way feedback culture

Feedback is vital to growth. And your company’s growth comes from both you and your employees.

Feedback is a two-way street. You must create a company culture where feedback is essential and not intimidating, encouraging employees to speak their minds.

You can start by scheduling periodic employee reviews or putting an anonymous tip box in a public area for employees. Give your employees the freedom to address their concerns.

It would help if you started the conversation correctly. When asking for feedback, ask questions such as:

  • How was your experience working with us the past x months?
  • What specific areas can management improve?
  • How can we make your time here better?
  • What would change about leadership?
  • What can you say about the company culture?

When providing feedback, it’s best to use specific examples so employees know which areas they can improve or maintain specifically.

5 insights on creating a healthy company culture

  1. Prioritize employees’ wellness and health. Always look out for your employees. Compromising their health and wellness can endanger your business. Be flexible and allow time for rest.
  2. Encourage diversity and inclusion. Promoting diversity and inclusivity can attract superstar employees and will improve your business. Inclusive work culture will help improve employee engagement and retention through diverse backgrounds, inputs, and perspectives.
  3. Be transparent. Employees dislike being in the dark. Always be transparent in providing essential information that will inform them about the business.
  4. Maintain standards. Setting strong standards for your organization creates healthy stress that pushes growth. Always encourage people to work smarter, not harder, and take steps to achieve bigger goals each day. You can only do so if you learn to delegate tasks to your employees. You can’t do everything yourself.
  5. Never forget company core values. All company initiatives must be grounded in the company’s goals and values. Always lead and educate your employees on the right behaviors when working and dealing with customers.

You can do everything right as an employer, but people will still leave from time to time. This is when respect for each individual’s decisions comes into play. It’s not easy for your employees to let go, and the people who stay will carefully look at how you treat those who leave.

As a retail business owner, it’s vital to give your employees the best reasons to stay: proper compensation and benefits, listening to their needs and issues, being flexible, and showing compassion when necessary.

Make your employees happy, and you’ll attract superstars. Superstar employees will help you grow your business faster.

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