Retail positions aren’t known for being long-term. Your best sales reps either move on to a different industry or are promoted out of their sales positions up into management. But you can take steps to hang onto your performers. Here are a few ideas on how to retain employees in retail.
We’ll give you the toughest pill to swallow first. We recommend paying each employee enough with their base salary to cover their basic living expenses. This breaks down the classic model, but hear us out. The idea was always that the lack of a basic salary would drive salespeople to perform: sell or starve. But it may be that the stress this causes is more detrimental to performance than it is beneficial. Start your sales reps from a stable place and they won’t be distracted or nervous during each sale. Even in smaller retail operations, it takes time to build rapport with customers. You don’t want to lose your people to another industry while they’re still finding their sales legs. Not just because they may be great salespeople. Because it’s expensive. Work Institute found that the average employee replacement costs a company 33% of his or her annual salary.
Business reporter Gregory Hamel writes: “When workers look for long-term careers, they tend to seek out jobs that are fun, intellectually stimulating, beneficial to society or lucrative. Retail jobs are often monotonous, which can make workers more likely to quit their jobs in favor of opportunities that offer more personal fulfillment.”
So how do you break that trend? How do you make retail jobs fun and rewarding? Through the power of gamification. With this concept you run sales games, with each sale, upsale, or customer interaction earning the rep a certain number of points. You can track these points in real time, then post them on leaderboards for competition’s sake, or just let each rep earn rewards on an individual basis. As employees earn enough points, they can spend their points balance on actual, tangible prizes. Gamification brings a much-needed dose of fun to the average workday, improving retention.
According to research by SHRM, employees attach a great deal of importance to a sense of meaning. They want their work to positively impact the lives of others. This can be as easy as showing them how much they mean to your store. Simple recognition of their accomplishments, large and small, will go a long way toward fostering a sense of meaning in the day-to-day. And they’ll be more likely to stick around to see how their time investment is paying off. Every retail manager should have a plan for how to engage his or her employees.