Saturday, 21 February 2015

How do you retain your talent?

Retailers, how do you keep hold of your talented employees. In my experience in UK retail, there are always a large proportion of the team that are students, those returning to work, those doing this whilst they look for something else. Often these are talented and valuable members of your team, and you've spent time and money in recruiting and training these people. Your customers build a rapport with them and they know your business well. I don't think that there are ways of keeping 100% of these employees happy or a single way to make a large swathe of them stay but there are methods to make each individual have a higher propensity to stay.

If you are in retail, your traditional armoury in this area can often be limited. You will probably have restrictions on pay rises, bonuses, overtime, promotion, transfers and formal training. This doesn't mean that you should give up. There are other means and ways of improving and maintaining employee morale and this means that each member of your team is more likely to stay. And in this sentence lies the first such thing that you can do to help.

If you treat each member of your team as an individual then you will immediately increase their happiness at work. It sounds simple, but I can tell you from experience that not every manager or business owner does this. A large part of feeling valued by an employer is feeling that they understand you and care about you - not just in your job role but in your life. One of the very best mangers I've worked with had a fantastic memory for what her team had told her and could recall those little details that meant something to you. Mention that you were going away for the weekend in a few months and she would wish you a nice weekend just before and ask you how it went just after. Whether this was genuine interest or a faked act it went a long way to ensuring that the team worked really well for her and respected her hugely.

I'd say a similar but distinct thing is to ensure that your team feel appreciated. Money isn't the only form of appreciation here - just saying "thank you" really does go a very long way. Allowing a valued team member to go 5 minutes early to catch their children's school play or a similar act ensures that feeling of value and trust.

There is the issue of promotion that can be a major factor here, particularly with your student population. By promotion, I don't just refer to the straight up and down promotion lines of sales assistant, team leader, assistant manager, store manager that traditional stores have as their structure. Other, sometimes more subtle, changes to someone's job role can add to their interest and commitment to the business. Key holding duties, involvement in special projects, leasing a small team in a specific task or learning new parts of the operation all add to the interest level. And this, in turn, adds to the chance that your team member could stay.

Now these are ways to attract and retain quality employees from whatever their background. Never underestimate how interesting and rewarding the job is on how much your team want to stay. And that goes for all of your team, no matter what their background.

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