Retail has undergone significant changes in recent years, not the least of which is the struggle to maintain a full, motivated workforce. Nearly every store seems to have a perpetual “We’re Hiring” sign, and most are clearly understaffed. In addition, retail employee turnover, which is traditionally high, is now even worse due to the high demand for employees. Retailers are at risk of losing high performers who find positions offering perks they believe will improve their work-life balance.
Open positions, especially due to turnover, cost the retailer more than just the cost to hire and train new employees.
The good news is there are solutions like Appriss® Retail’s Secure Coach module that can help retailers recognize and develop motivated employees who are committed to their jobs. Using powerful analytics, reporting, and training management tools, retail managers can identify high performers to provide recognition and appropriate upskilling opportunities. The same tools can also detect the workers in need of additional training and support, and then provide a trackable training plan to bring them up to speed. Providing early and regular support can help struggling retail employees reach their potential, achieve greater job satisfaction, and most importantly, stay and grow with the company.
The cost of retail employee turnover
The 2023 Commerce Trends report published by Shopifyplus found that 67% of businesses are short staffed and 69% report difficulty finding and retaining talent. To put a finer point on the staffing issue, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics show that at the end of February 2023 there were 829,000 unfilled retail jobs, with an employee turnover rate sitting at 60%.
Open positions, especially due to turnover, cost the retailer more than just the cost to hire and train new employees. Other, less obvious costs, like reduced customer satisfaction due to poor customer service or the poor morale of remaining employees who have to pick up the slack, can often be even more damaging. When valued employees walk out the door, they leave a void that can take weeks or months to fill, disrupting operations, distracting managers who have to hire and train anew, and potentially harming a retailer's reputation in the employee marketplace, affecting its ability to hire new workers.
Motivate retail employees by putting analytics to work
Retail managers simply don’t have the time to examine performance metrics for each employee without help from tools like Appriss Retail’s Secure exception-based reporting tool. Using artificial intelligence to examine the retailer’s employee activity log, Secure can identify what’s going well and what or who needs help to provide excellent customer service and protect profits.
The Secure Coach add-on module to Secure makes it even easier to provide retail employees with the support they need. Coach identifies retail associates in need of supportive training and then presents store managers with a plan for interactive coaching sessions. Employees are provided with details of specific transactions and the specific steps needed to learn and practice correct procedures. The module also provides managers with the metrics and tools needed to track the success of the training retail employees have received.
Using the data-driven insights provided by a tool like Secure Coach, retailers can support and motivate employees in 4 key ways:
1. Create Personalized, Targeted Store Training Plans
Secure Coach provides managers with early insights into specific situations that point to the need for additional cashier training. For example, let’s say an employee handles buy-one-get-one offers by ringing up one item and then simply putting the second item in the bag. To the untrained employee and the consumer, the end result seems to be the same; one item is free. The cashier doesn’t realize that by not scanning the item through the POS, the inventory and on-hand availability will now be inaccurate. Hours could be wasted discovering where the discrepancy lies, not to mention the impact on other customers who see in-stock availability when there clearly is none.
Data-driven retail analytics tools can track employee performance to quickly identify the problem and create a personalized training program to help that specific employee understand why both items need to be rung up. Working with individual employees helps stop unwanted behaviors before they escalate and lead to bigger problems. And, if the data analysis uncovers the same behavior happening with a lot of people, managers can create programs to address initial training gaps or fix broken processes. Helping retail employees understand the “why” of a process goes a long way toward helping them feel valued and motivated.
When programs are fueled by data-driven reports of top performance, employees can see that the goals are attainable, and be confident the results are fair.
2. Offer Upskilling Training
According to the LinkedIn 2022 Workplace Learning Report, employees that feel their skills are not being put to good use are 10 times more likely to look for a new job than those who feel supported and recognized. Unfortunately, most managers are stretched so thin, they can only focus on fixing problems, not recognizing successes.
Because Secure Coach analyzes employee behavior against company goals in real time, it can provide managers with the right information at the right time to recognize the excellent behaviors of star employees. It can also recommend upskilling training to keep employees engaged. For example, an employee who excels at customer service may benefit from a training program that focuses on building leadership skills to be ready to take the next step in their career. Another Linkedin study showed that 91% of employees say it’s important for managers to inspire learning and experimentation to remain engaged.
3. Create Retail Employee Incentive Programs
Programs that recognize employee performance against goals, such as contests for the most loyalty card or credit card applications, or completed customer surveys, go a long way toward making employees feel engaged and valued. That is – if these programs are administered consistently and fairly.
When programs are fueled by data-driven reports of top performance, employees can see that the goals are attainable, and be confident the results are fair. Being able to compare their own performance to the winners, or better yet, to be the winner, drives engagement and motivates retail employees to compete to win.
4. Support Store and Call Center Manager Development
Retailers can’t afford to overlook the need to motivate their store and call center managers, as well as their front-line employees. Because managers are tasked with hiring and training employees along with all their other responsibilities, they can often feel like they can’t give their all to any part of the job. Feeling overwhelmed and ineffective is no way to spend the day.
Secure Coach can take the burden off of retail employee management. It provides managers with the metrics and tools to automatically analyze performance, and then provides training and tracking programs to help employees succeed and grow. It’s simple to track training sessions and results and see the direct impact on store performance. Helping managers motivate and nurture their employees is a sure way to build manager satisfaction as well.
Train, recognize, support, and motivate retail employees
In today’s economy, retailers are in constant competition to attract, train, motivate, and retain top talent. Providing employees with the right training and incentives at the right time to ensure success is just as important as recognizing when success is achieved. Adopting AI-powered analytics and data-driven insights to provide timely, personalized coaching and employee recognition programs is more important than ever for retailers to build a highly effective workforce that helps maintain profitability.
Cheryl Blake, Vice President of Loss Prevention Portfolio, Appriss Retail
Cheryl joined Appriss Retail via acquisition in 2019 and oversees all loss prevention products. She has balanced her 40+ year career between being a retail loss prevention practitioner and working with software solution providers, beginning her LP journey as a store detective in Detroit and progressing through leadership positions with several large retailers. Cheryl continues to be an active member of the loss prevention community and has been a frequent speaker at industry events.