One of the most important elements of the retail customer experience is the direct interaction that customers have with retail partners. This makes hiring a critical factor.
One of the most important elements of the retail customer experience is the direct interaction that customers have with retail employees. At the same time, attracting and retaining the right people to attract customers is a major challenge for executives in every sector, but it is especially difficult for retailers this year.
According to The Washington Post, 70% of retail jobs are unfilled, far ahead of other sectors. There will be more pressure in the coming months as Amazon and UPS ramp up hiring.
Not surprisingly, staffing is a top concern for retail executives heading into the holiday season.
Successfully meeting this challenge will require retail leaders to create the conditions for success as they prepare for the holiday shopping season and the uncertain year ahead. Here are five questions to consider to set the stage for success.
#1 Is this candidate really the right fit?
Retailers are often willing to hire anyone with experience listed on their resume and a few references. After two or three weeks, they leave, or you ask them to leave. Instead of just hiring someone who looks good on paper, apply some more proven hiring practices.
So start by identifying the characteristics of successful retail employees in your stores. When recruiting, interviewing and on-boarding new employees, consider how well candidates meet these objective criteria, including how well they will fit in and add value to the team already in place.
To support the candidate evaluation process, conduct the interview in person. Get initial support from HR, but don’t rely on them to make the hiring decision. Because managers’ hiring decisions also suffer from bias, input from other stakeholders can help improve hiring decisions. Take the time to interview people with experience, including team members. With criteria in hand, team members are often the best at determining who will succeed.
Taking a little extra time will save you a lot of time and frustration later.
#2 Do you create a welcoming environment?
If the value of working in retail is seen as “just earning a paycheck”, chances are your retail staff will move on to another store. Most workers value positive human connections and belonging. These are basic human needs that are especially important for young workers.
The intangible experience of real human connection has profound business implications. For example, Deloitte reports that job belonging can increase job productivity by 56% and reduce the risk of employee turnover by 50%.
Creating a welcoming environment that fosters belonging is one of the most important components of an effective recruitment and retention initiative, especially for new hires.
To promote and foster an atmosphere of hospitality, consider:
● When employees go around with new employees to discuss products.
● Inviting new employees to coffee so they feel an immediate connection with their colleagues.
● Engaging teams in camaraderie activities.
#3 Do new hires understand what the desired performance looks like?
Retail is a unique sector that combines personal customer service with other responsibilities such as product placement and store cleanliness.
Leaders help new hires stay focused and motivated by defining successful work and setting achievable goals. This can include the number of customer interactions, sales conversions and positive customer satisfaction feedback.
Neuroscience-led research has shown how clear and realistic goals positively impact performance.
While companies can adapt well-known metrics to measure performance, retailers looking to retain talent will need time to explain desired performance standards to new hires and demonstrate the actions and behaviors needed to achieve them.
#4 Are new employees learning, connecting with their supervisor, teammates, and other new employees at work?
The relationship between a manager and new hires can be the most important part of an effective retail employee retention strategy, allowing employees to feel safe, supported and productive.
Learning with teammates creates a “we’re all in this together” experience and makes it more likely that individual employees will share responsibility for their team’s success. You can facilitate this dynamic by creating simulation activities where new employees can test desired behaviors and receive feedback.
Team simulations and sales motivational games build cohesion and give the manager an opportunity to bond with new hires.
It’s often said that people don’t leave companies—they leave their bosses. In other words, be the kind of leader people want to work with and for.
#5 Do new employees receive supportive feedback – positive and constructive?
As leaders of people, strong relationships with employees are built through conversations. Retail managers manage three types of conversations:
● Conversations about waiting.
● Conversations during registration.
● Performance feedback.
If you can master these conversations, you’ll go a long way toward mastering retail employee management practices.
We know that people are more likely to continue desirable behaviors and even change undesirable behaviors in response to positive reinforcement. Specific steps for providing affirmative feedback:
● Name the situation: Example: In the warehouse.
● Describe the behavior: Example: Placing loose objects in the designated space on the shelf.
● Impact of behavior on the team: Example: Teammates facilitated access to items and set an example for others.
● Encouragement to keep up the good work. Example: “What you did today really helps us work better as a team. Thank you.”
In general, people need at least one instance of positive reinforcement each day, and some studies suggest that a 6:1 ratio of affirmation to constructive feedback is most effective. Employees want to hear from their managers that they are doing well and succeeding.
That means words of affirmation, a genuine smile, and just plain public recognition regularly help meet employees’ daily needs for positive feedback.
One last thought
Retail managers and employees have been through a couple of years of disorientation.
As you prepare for major sales events and the annual holiday season to create a better customer experience for shoppers, the answers to the following five questions can help you develop hiring and retention strategies to hire the right people and keep them on your team throughout the season and year ahead.
Barry Rosen is the Chief Executive Officer of Interaction Associates (IA), a leading provider of training and consulting services for creating a culture of collaborative leadership. For 52 years, IA has provided thousands of leaders and teams with practical programs, tools and techniques to better lead, meet and work across functions, perspectives and territories. Learn more by visiting https://www.interactionassociates.com/ and connecting with Barry on LinkedIn.
https://www.retailcustomerexperience.com/blogs/what-retail-hiring-managers-should-ask-when-hiring-for-the-holidays/ What Retail Hiring Managers Should Ask When Hiring for the Holidays| HR strategy Retail customer experience