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How To Be the ‘It’ Place To Work in Retail

Landing on the annual lists of best workplaces is the holy grail for retailers. As we discussed in a previous post, employee turnover is a constant battle and earning the status of a destination workplace helps attract the best talent.

As it turns out, the key to ranking at the top of the list of best places to work is your level of engagement with employees. Studies have shown engaged retail employees can generate 69% more revenue than those that don’t feel “in the loop.” On the flip side, it costs retailers $3,400 every time retail employees leave, which costs a company like Walmart about $1 billion per year.

With so much to gain from keeping your employees happy, making your retail stores the “It” place to work might be the cost-effective investment you can make. Here are some ways to do it that won’t break the bank.

1. Give your employees some skin in the game.

Because retail employees are hourly workers, it can feel like they don’t have a larger role to play in the company.

Retailers like Nordstrom combat this with a unique program that enables their sales associates to build their book of clients. The ability to grow their customer sales gives associates an ownership stake in their performance.

Instead of a clock-in, clock-out culture, create an ownership culture that allows your employees to grow along with your company.

2. Treat your employees like humans, not expenses.

A recent CNBC article on retail company culture said it best, “Retailers that treat their employees as more than just a loss on the balance sheet tend to have higher retention rates, higher sales per square foot and lower store return rates.”

Wegman’s, a grocery retailer that was voted best retail workplace by Fortune last year exhibits this attitude beautifully. And the proof is in what Wegman’s employees say about the grocer: “I have worked for the company for 26 years. I have always been treated very fairly here. I really enjoy coming in to work here. I have no desire to retire, I would love to work here forever if I can.”

3. Put your money where your mission is.

Alignment between your company mission and workplace culture is paramount. Employees are easily disillusioned and lose trust if the espoused mission doesn’t match how they’re treated.

Whole Foods prides itself on wellness. Their internal company website allows employees to track their eating habits and provides discounts up to 30% if they meet certain health criteria.

The outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia has a “Let My People Go Surfing” policy, which allows employees can use to explore the outdoors with flexible hours. They also treat everyone in the company to an annual ski trip to Mammoth Mountain in California.

Creating an exceptional work environment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. ROI on investing in your employees the easiest way to improve your bottom line. An employee from the motorcycle retailer RevZilla said, “This is the only company I have ever worked for that has figured out that if they take care of the employees, they won’t ever have to worry about the customers.”

Find out how the world’s top retailers are attracting new talent in our free white paper, “Retail Industry Trends in 2020!”