Insights & Articles
Posted on 6 August 2021

Creative ways to engage retail employees

4 minute read

How can we better engage retail employees?

During our long and varied lives, it’s inevitable that many of us have worked in retail at some point. Perhaps you stacked shelves in a supermarket, returned clothes to their rightful place or served customers who were searching for a fantastic bargain.

Worryingly, retail employees are some of the most disengaged in the country. 77% of UK retail employees say they are not engaged with their company’s brand values. What’s more shocking is that 63% say they’ve never been trained on the importance of the values in the first place, highlighting that organisations are underestimating the impact of engaging employees with values and objectives.

If more investment was made in this area, it’s thought businesses could add an additional £2,700 per employee per year in profits. So how can we ensure that hard-working retail staff are engaged? And how can we make sure they are recognised for their efforts to avoid leaving a bitter taste in their mouth after their experience working in retail?

We’ve summarised four creative ways to keep your retail staff engaged, helping to create a happier environment, increased productivity and lower staff turnover.

1. Collaborative communication

With frequent changes in the workplace and government legislation, many people have started opening up about feelings of anxiety. It’s all too easy to feel siloed at work due to a lack of positive communication between colleagues and head office.

While employees should always be able to freely voice their concerns, it’s important to ensure that head office can share as much positivity to lift the workforce’s morale. This requires you to regularly contact your retail staff, encouraging conversation about good news stories and positive events as much as possible.

More and more organisations are opting to give their employees access to social timelines designed for the workplace. Similar to Facebook or LinkedIn, these social timelines allow retailer staff to share what’s happening in their part of the business, communicate with each other and celebrate moments of achievements.

But how can you make this communication creative? Try putting your employees at the focus by running regular ‘spotlight’ features. It’s easy to keep to yourself when working for a large retailer, and understanding other business areas becomes difficult. Whether it’s an apprentice warehouse worker or a loyal customer service desk manager, the spotlight technique allows you to showcase the varied skills and people you have around the business. This sort of communication engages those you place in the spotlight; it helps fellow colleagues understand what values are being lived and breathed in the company.

2. Team praise and recognition

As well as offering incentives and rewards, praise can go a long way. A common reason why retail employees become uninterested and disengaged is that they don’t feel valued. This could be easily avoided by simply taking the time to share your token of appreciation.

Saying “thank you” for someone’s actions is a very effective way of boosting confidence, and encourages continual hard work. In retail, managers and colleagues can do this face-to-face or via social timelines if they have access to a digital platform. But, in what other ways can we praise?

Wall of fame: Acknowledge their work and share the celebration with the rest of their colleagues. Create a wall of photos in a shared space, just a staff room, and announce new additions in team meetings.

Time off: If it’s within your power and shifts allow, offer retail staff a bit of time back to focus on their wellbeing. Even if it’s finishing a shift 30 minutes earlier, you may be surprised how appreciative your staff are for the recognition.

Sticky notes: If there are staff lockers, add a post-it note with a meaningful thank you message to show you value that employee’s hard work. Alternatively, if head office is looking to recognise somebody on the shopfloor, send a card or ‘golden ticket’ explaining why they have been recognised.

3. Keep everyone connected

Connecting and empowering employees across store locations is one of the most difficult challenges for retail organisations, including:

  • How do you stop your stores from becoming isolated?
  • How do you ensure that groups across your retail network aren’t experiencing the same problem without the ability to share ideas on how to solve it?
  • How do you gather innovation ideas from your network and share best practices?

Without a holistic view of engagement across your retail stores, it can be tough to spot areas for improvement. For example, you may find that a pocket of stores has abnormally high staff turnover, which could be due to lack of manager recognition or poor shift management. Unless you have the mechanisms in place to retrieve feedback from your staff, it will be near impossible to gather this evidence.

Whilst a social timeline can help keep your colleagues connected to one another, despite where they’re located, feedback management tools are just as important. When managed effectively, it allows your employees to share their ideas for improving the business. As the group of people who are in touch with your customers, they are your most important asset as being able to influence the output of the business.

Some organisations are digitising their feedback management campaigns in platforms such as Rippl. Still, you can achieve this in other ways, such as physical feedback cards or regular working groups across different functions.

4. Switch up roles and responsibilities

Your most engaged employees are those most likely to want to be exposed to new responsibilities and roles in their stores. If your employees feel that the allocation of these roles and responsibilities is unclear or unfair, this opens up a pathway to disengagement.

Employees tend to seek variety and want to be trusted to take on new challenges. Rather than allocating new roles and responsibilities based on availability or convenience, give employees the ability to mark down their interest in different positions and allow them to try it out.

Even if you just offer staff temporary role switches, offering insight into other business areas, you are opening up more opportunities for an engaging employee experience. There are also many other benefits to temporary job placements, such as a better understanding of processes and procedures that make their job easier when they return to their regular role.