Your retail workers are one of the most important factors in running a successful business. Commonly thought to be unskilled, entry-level workers, these people are the first, and sometimes only, interaction that your customers have with your company. The experience customers have while shopping at your store is directly correlated to the worker experience your employees deal with every day.

An unmotivated staff could cost you millions of dollars. In order to salvage some of this loss, companies need to invest in improving the overall employee experience and get employees excited to come into work every day. Here are some tips to help keep your workers engaged in their jobs.


1. Establish Open Communication

The first step to making employees feel fulfilled in their job is to keep them in the loop of what’s going on in the company. This goes for major company announcements as well as small, day-to-day information. It’s important to share with all employees the overall company objectives and explain to them how their roles directly impact these goals. When goals change, take the time to explain how that will affect your workers— even if it’s not in a direct way.

Your employees will be more enthusiastic about their positions if you take the time to show how their jobs directly affect the success of the business. This also provides role clarity and ensures that everyone knows the responsibilities that they are accountable for.

In terms of day-to-day communication, employees need to be informed about changes that directly affect them as early as possible. For example, schedules should be made available to workers as early as possible. This gives employees the opportunity to have a healthy work-life balance without worrying about having to sacrifice one over the other. If there will be a shift in management, let them know ahead of time so that workers can have time to get used to the changes.

By being completely transparent with your staff, you’re showing that you value their time.

If you notice that there is a lack of effective communication throughout your stores, updating your technology could be the solution. Advancements in digital technology has made it easier for leaders to get in touch with their employees, and vice versa.

For example, it can sometimes be difficult for employees to reach management if they have to use the same phone lines that customers use. In this instance, a company may explore a Voice over IP phone service instead of a traditional landline service. With features like advanced extension dialing, virtual assistants, and call distribution, your employees can be assured that they’re able to reach their managers without worrying about competing with shoppers.

Additionally, think about having an internal newsletter that highlights some of the major changes of the company as well as any cool tidbits about the company that may be relevant to them. You could even incorporate this newsletter into your larger email marketing campaign by offering coupons and discounts directly to your employees.

If you’re unsure where to start, it might be beneficial to look to email marketing software to guide you in the right direction. Not only will these emails make your employees feel special, but they will also make sure that each worker is being updated on the information they need to be successful.

When keeping your employees engaged with the company from all angles, you’re building their loyalty and trust in the company, giving them the motivation they need to do their best work.


2. Allow Your Employees to Move Across the Company

A great way to keep your employees excited about their jobs is to give them the opportunity to work on the things that actually interest them. If there is a specific department that they are interested in working in, allow them to do that. If there’s a task that someone finds difficulty completing, try to avoid making them do it. You’ll find that your employees will be happy to come to work when they’re comfortable with the jobs they have.

Also, create a clear path for employees toward promotion or title change. Make sure that everyone knows the positions available to them so that they can gain the skills needed to move up in the company— whether that be becoming a buyer, store manager, or supply chain manager. Offer job openings to your current employees before outsourcing to new talent. Giving your workers the opportunity to grow within your company will allow you to increase your talent retention rate, as people won’t seek career opportunities from other businesses.

Your employees will be motivated to give their all to the company when they have something to look forward to. You’ll breed committed, loyal workers who are excited about the potential of their career.

Even if you’re not yet ready to promote anyone, simply giving people more responsibility in their current position can motivate people to work harder. Small things like letting someone be in charge of a window display or letting them be in charge of scheduling lunch breaks can go a long way in making people feel like a valuable asset to the company. It gives people something extra to feel proud of, rather than simple tasks they do every day.


3. Create a Culture of Recognition

Taking the time to thank someone for their effort goes a long way in lifting their spirits, especially when they’re working in a retail job. It’s through this appreciation that workers are reminded of their value to the company and they find the motivation to continue to work hard.

Appreciation can be given for a multitude of reasons. For something as small as consistently coming to work on time to something big like earning the most customer rewards sign up of the month. Create internal goals for your employees and celebrate with them when they are achieved. The more that you thank your staff for a job well done, the more they will strive for these achievements.

Recognition can be shown in a number of different ways, and doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to a monetary raise or bonus. Some of the best ways include, but are not limited to

  • Initiating an employee of the month program
  • Taking a star employee out to lunch or dinner
  • Giving out gift cards to those who go above and beyond
  • Celebrating birthdays and big milestones
  • Buying pizza after a stressful, busy day

Not only will these rewards inspire workers to do their absolute best, but it also gives them something to brag about to their family and friends.

In addition to these prizes, it’s important to encourage employees to congratulate each other when they notice good work being done. It might be beneficial to look into using employee recognition software to give everyone a place to share their praises for each other.

Getting recognition from all levels will help employees feel appreciated and strengthen their relationships with their coworkers— making their overall work environment more pleasant.


4. Encourage Healthy Peer Relationships

A factor that is often overlooked when trying to improve the employee experience is improving peer relationships. It’s extremely important that your workers enjoy the people they spend time with, especially when they’re working in highly stressful situations usually associated with retail jobs.

While it’s nearly impossible to force people to be friends with each other, there are steps that you can take to help these relationships thrive.

One of the easiest first steps is to keep a clean, inviting break room and encourage employees to use it. When employees have a designated spot where they can decompress from the long day and bond with their coworkers, they are able to form genuine friendships with each other that are based on things other than work.

Another thing you can do is be proactive during the “getting to know you” phase. It’s hard for people to become friends with people that they don’t know very well. Show initiative by asking employees about their interests, their home life, and where they see their career going in the future. You could ask new hires ice-breaker questions when you introduce them to their new coworkers. The more they become familiar with each other in a not-so-formal way, the easier it will be for them to enjoy the time they spend together at work.

When your employees are happy with their work experience, they’ll be more than happy to give their all to your company. The effort you put into making their lives easier will be something that your customers, your employees, and your revenue goals will thank you for.