The Secret to Happy Retail Employees

Money Is No Longer Buying Happiness
Let’s face it. Today, building an effective team of retail employees is more challenging than ever. We all agree that the key to an effective retail operation are high performing and productive employees. Furthermore, in spite of a great location or a superior line of goods or services the behavior of every single team member well have a dramatic affect on the overall success of the operation. Every time the employee steps out onto the sales floor and interacts with a customer a change in brand equity is realized. In other words, the behavior and interaction of your employee with your customer will have an ongoing affect on brand identity and brand equity within the competitive marketplace.

Understandably great customer experiences create gains in brand equity while disappointing performance by your team members will create a deterioration in your brand equity. Exactly what is the secret to ensuring that each and every one-on-one customer experience in your store consistently increases brand equity in the eyes of the community? In other words, what makes a team member consistently delight and dazzle your customers so that long-term customer relationships with ongoing repeat business are realized?

The secret is a team of engaged employees. Why is employee engagement so critical in today’s retail landscape? In earlier times employee expectations were quite simple. Employees were happy to come to work and do as they’re told, collect their paycheck and go home at the end of the day. In contrast todays employee is far more sophisticated, educated and connected than ever before. Not surprisingly, the Internet has been instrumental in increasing knowledge levels and subsequently employee aspirations and expectations in the workplace. Unlike earlier times, countless surveys have demonstrated that compensation itself is not enough to satisfy employees over the long-term. In fact, in a ranking of 10 critical elements in one recent survey compensation for employees was rated 6/10!

Today, a retail employee is not just motivated by compensation. Above everything else there is a need to belong to the organization and have a sense of ownership. Ownership can be realized through employee empowerment. Trusting your employees and empowering them to make decisions close to the customer creates personal long-term relationships between your team members and your clients. Empowering your employees creates a climate of ownership and belonging for your team members and generates a great level of loyalty to the company.

Building a team of engaged employees that generates powerful long-term customer relationships takes a long time to build. However once realized the organization will enjoy greater productivity per individual employee, higher morale, lower internal and external theft rates and most importantly, lower employee turnover.

How does an organization that has traditionally operated through a regimented model began to create a more productive and loyal team of engaged employees?

1] Make sure that all employees are kept informed of new and relevant developments in the company. They should hear them first and they should hear them from their organization directly. There is nothing more demoralizing than hearing about new organizational developments last or hearing them from an outside source that was aware of the development before your team was.

2] Give staff increased responsibility and trust. Expand their decision-making powers even if you impose some limitations. Empower staff to make decisions close to the customer and give them the necessary support and Training to enable them to make good win-win decisions for all stakeholders.

3] Encourage staff to make decisions close to the customer and even when on occasion a bad decision is made, offer supportive training and refrain from chastising or punishing the employee.

4] Ensure that a structured process is in place to recognize exemplary customer service on a regular basis. Recognize and reward engaged employees who go above and beyond the call of duty to create a memorable customer experience. To keep momentum going, this strategy is most effective during weekly meetings where peer recognition is realized and small rewards are given to stellar employees. Rewards do not need to be extravagant. The recognition and appreciation is the key to effective leadership of engaged employees.

5] Create a formal and informal system that enables engaged employees to voice their opinions and help steer the future direction of the organization. Empower them to voice their opinions on a regular basis and contribute their ideas in a positive way that will make the company more effective and more efficient. Successfully implemented ideas also merit some form of recognition and a reward.

Building a team of engaged employees is the key to future survival and prosperity in every retail organization. Although this can be complex and protracted in time, the key to success is a change in leadership style that supports a greater level of empowerment, involvement and ownership of today’s retail employee. Start now and create the culture that generates higher morale, higher productivity and lower turnover. Rise above the competition in small steps today, and soar to being number one tomorrow!

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retail, employees, morale, productivity, engagement, empowerment,customer service, customer relationships