You probably spend a lot of time and energy on engaging your customers and making sure they’re satisfied with their experience at your store.
Compare that to how much time and energy you devote to engaging your retail employees. If you are like many retailers, there is probably a large gap. Employee engagement is a real challenge for many retailers, and it is one that can have a major effect on your operations.
While it can be difficult, it is incredibly important to keep your employees engaged. Your staff determine much of the experience your customer has in your store, and bad service leaves a bad taste in customers’ mouths. For this reason, some consider employee engagement the first step towards designing a satisfying customer experience.
Yet for all the importance of employee engagement, and while 90% of organizations say employee engagement has an effect on business success, only 25% have an employee engagement plan. This is not surprising, given only 30% of American employees feel actively engaged with their job. This disengagement costs the American economy between $450 and $550 billion each year in lost productivity. If your employees aren’t engaged, it affects your business’ productivity, too. Engaged employees are less likely to call in sick and less likely to find another job.
This translates into significant savings for your business. In fact, companies with highly engaged employees have more than two times the revenue of companies with low employee engagement.
Investing time and energy into keeping your employees engaged will always pay off. Here are six ways to keep employees happy in their roles.
Give and Receive Constant Feedback
Don’t wait for official performance reviews every six months to tell your employees how they are doing. Encourage supervisors to give their employees feedback at least once a week. This does not need to be highly formal, but it needs to happen regularly. More than 40% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week, while only 18% of employees with low engagement do.
Meet Their Four Core Needs
Your employees will be happier and more productive at work when you meet their four core needs.
It is essential to give your employees the opportunity to recharge. Encourage them to take a full hour for their lunch break, and encourage them to take their breaks, too. Encourage them to go outside to take in some fresh air during their breaks, or provide space in a staff room for yoga or other physical activity.
Everyone wants to feel their work is valued and respected. Thank your employees for the work they do to clearly and explicitly demonstrate how important they are. This is not difficult to do, yet will make your employees significantly more likely to remain with your company.
Your employees also want to feel they are part of a team. Foster a sense of teamwork among your staff by periodically hosting events and team-building activities. Volunteer together. Companies that support charitable causes by involving employees in volunteer projects have more engaged and productive employees
Provide your employees the opportunity to learn and grow in their skills and abilities. Create learning plans for each of your employees, and ask them what they would like to learn and what training opportunities interest them. When starting a new procedure or installing new technology in your stores, be sure to include a plan for training your staff.
Where possible, give employees autonomy in setting their own schedules. Increasingly, employees are attracted to flexible work options, and flexible hours is one of the biggest benefits of retail work. Listen to their needs and preferences in structuring their work schedules. There are technology solutions that you can use to address scheduling – they may be a solution to consider.
Foster a sense of connection between your employees and your business’ purpose. Starting on day one, rather than dumping a huge mound of paperwork on new hires’ desks, prioritize walking them through your company’s values. Explain how each employee contributes to the success of your retail operation.
Show your employees they are important, and link their role to the higher purpose of the business, so they feel a sense of meaning in their work.
Communicate Your Business’ Goals
To function efficiently and effectively, your business needs to communicate openly and frequently with your employees. How can employees contribute to your retail operation’s goals if they don’t know them?
There is a strong connection between management transparency and employee happiness. By keeping your employees in the loop about what is going on, you will create a more cooperative team atmosphere, and you will provide employees with the information they need to do their jobs better.
Did your retail store have its best month of sales yet? Celebrate!
It is important to take the time to celebrate the successes of your business and its employees, from big achievements like surpassing sales goals to smaller achievements like offering a customer incredible service.
Whether it’s taking everyone out for lunch to celebrate a major team success, or thanking an employee in a handwritten card for the great job they did, celebrating achievements is important to making employees feel appreciated, building a sense of purpose, and having fun as a team.
Pay Them Fairly
Want to make your employees less likely to leave? Pay them more.
The average employee at the Container Store earns $48,000 a year, which is twice the industry average. As a result, the company has an extremely low annual turnover rate — only 10%. At Costco, employees who stay for more than five years can make more than $20 per hour. Costco co-founder Jim Sinegal has said of his company’s pay practices, “This is not altruistic. This is good business.”
It costs a lot to lose employees and retrain new ones – so much, in fact, that it may just be cheaper for your business to pay its employees more and see less of them leave.
Listen to Your Employees
Ultimately, there is no one right way to engage your employees. Maybe your staff would like a monthly team lunch, or maybe the opportunity to attend training events. The best way to know what will make your employees feel more engaged is to ask them. Then listen to what they say.
Whatever the specific methods you use to engage your employees, treat them with kindness, respect, and flexibility. It will come back to you and your business in spades.
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John Fecteau, co-founder and executive with Worldlink Integration.