Retail has long been notorious for a dizzying rate of employee turnover stemming from a relatively young workforce and historically low wages. But when even high-fliers like Google and Amazon are having trouble retaining employees, it's time to do something. Here are three steps retailers can take now to boost worker retention:
1. Establish Goal Setting on Day 1 — and Make it Fun
Retailers have a hard time investing in workers because they tend to move on before there's a chance to define a career path for them. It doesn't have to be this way, especially when there's technology that can help employers and employees alike to track job performance and development from the first day on the job.
Companies like Louis Vuitton and TGI Friday's have formal mentorship programs that, along with technology platforms, enable workers and managers to set goals together. For example, a new employee can connect with a veteran manager to learn how he was able to move up the company ladder. Employees can "gamify" their performance by, for instance, setting sales goals and then digitally graphing their progress against those benchmarks. Allowing employees to map their own futures, gives them reasons to stay.
2. Project Flexibility — Even Within Necessary Limits
A lot of employers are moving away from the 9-to-5 workday in response to worker demands for more flexible hours, especially among Millennials. Unfortunately, retailers don't have that luxury when consistent open-and-close times are key to customer service. But that doesn't mean retailers can't be flexible about other things. They can, for instance, let employees select the shifts they want to work and work together to fill any scheduling holes. A survey by the Families and Work Institute found that employees who are given more control over the hours they work — even if it's within an established time frame — are more likely to stay on the job.
3. Satisfy the Urge to Move — Physically and Within Teams
Recent studies also reveal that Millennials expect to live and work in multiple locations. Here retailers — especially multinational ones — have an advantage over a lot of other businesses. Encourage employees to move from one store to another in another state and, depending on the language needs, another country. If that's not feasible, companies can embrace job rotation at a specific location. Giving employees a variety of tasks along with new forms of responsibilities reinvigorates employees who otherwise might feel their careers have stagnated.Photo: Creative Commons