Conventional wisdom among many brick and mortar retailers is that labor is a cost of doing business. But conversely, some of the most forward-thinking companies in retail see their employees as an investment— assets that drive sales revenue through the digital workforce.
This employee connection investment mindset has been shown to improve retail staff performance and employee engagement. By investing in your employees’ careers, they’ll repay you with less turnover, better customer service, and most importantly, increased sales revenue. Here are three ways to improve work performance for of retail employees and in turn produce tangible results for your company.
1. Educate employees on operations:
There’s no doubt that customer service training is essential for a quality retail staff. However, two recent surveys found that operations training may be just as important in engaging employees. A survey, performed at Borders stores, showed one out of six customers were mistakenly told an item was out of stock when they asked for help. Researchers estimated Borders’ profits would have been 25% higher without these stocking errors.
One way to give your co-workers an excellent sense of how their store runs is to train them in all areas of operation. From checking out customers to ordering inventory and stocking shelves, employees who know how their store works can keep it running smoothly.
2. Decentralize decision making:
Most retailers still maintain a centralized management structure. Retail planning is coordinated and communicated in a clear hierarchy, with lower level employees in the digital workforce having limited decision-making power.
By allowing your retail associates more autonomy, you can empower them to make better decisions for their location and give them a sense of ownership in their role. Companies like Trader Joe’s, who allow employees to make inventory decisions for their stores, are more responsive to their customer needs, and more likely to increase satisfaction and sales through that employee connection.
3. Hire employees with the right attitude:
Instead of primarily focusing on relevant experience or where a candidate went to school, pay close attention to their attitude towards the job and the company.
Nordstrom, consistently regarded as one of the best retailers to work for, simply hires nice people into their workforce and then trains them how to sell. Likewise, the Disney Institute follows the motto, “Hire for attitude and train for aptitude.” If you have an effective training program, you can teach good people how to be champions for your brand. It isn’t as easy to build each employee connection when you hire people that don’t fit your culture.