It’s widely acknowledged that frontline retail employees have a significant impact on the customer experience. In fact, most C-suite executives readily acknowledge the important role that these employees play in contributing to a positive customer experience and building brand image.

While the influential impact of frontline employees is often heralded in the retail environment, many workers are disenchanted with their workplace experience, as evidenced by high staff turnover rates.

This challenge is now reaching critical proportions within the retail sector. The average for staff turnover in North America is sitting at 60% – three times higher than other industries. This results in a never-ending cycle of rehiring and retraining, which has a detrimental influence on profits and organisational culture.

To put a brake on these spiralling staff attrition numbers, it is important for retailers to understand what is driving this high turnover rate and give thought to ways in which they can retain their employees, including improving the employee experience. Below we explore the causes and potential solutions to this critical challenge.

Push Factors

Some of the leading reasons behind employees heading for the exits are as follows:

  • Compensation Conundrum – Every employee desires a competitive salary and benefits package from their employer. As the global economy enters a period of rising inflation, these expectations are likely to continue growing.
  • Career Aspirations – Employees want a well-defined future career path that addresses their personal ambitions. Increasingly, this requirement needs to be extended to temporary and part-time workers who want to acquire specific marketable skills by the time their period of employment ends.
  • Share of Voice – Often only supervisors and managers are approached for their opinions on operational challenges. This can lead to frustration amongst frontline employees when their opinions are seemingly not taken into consideration or valued. Providing a two-way employee engagement solution can solve this issue quite easily.
  • Comfort Zone – It is estimated that globally some 2.7 billion workers have deskless jobs that require them to be on the move all the time. This is certainly true of most frontline retail workers making it imperative that when they do take a break they are completely separated, in relative comfort, from their work duties.

In addition to the above, factors such as inflexibility around vacations (or blackout periods as they are commonly called), long commutes to workplaces and excessive workloads during peak periods all play a role in prompting employees to seek alternative employment.

Pull Factors

The following approaches can help put you on the path to improved employee retention:

  • Recognise and Reward Hard Work – As humans, we all crave recognition for our work. Implementing an employee recognition and rewards program allows managers and co-workers to recognise good work when they see it, thereby providing plenty of positive feedback. This can go a long way towards taking the sting out of remuneration concerns. This goes a long way to improving the overall employee experience. One way to introduce a rewards and recognition program is as part of a larger employee experience solution.
  • Invest in Upskilling – Providing defined career paths is a critical staff retention tool. However, not everyone will be able to fulfil their career ambitions within your company. One way of keeping them on board is by providing training and skills development that deepens their personal repertoire of job skills, which can help them become a specialist in their field. By giving frontline retail workers the tools to learn on the go, employees feel that their employers value them and are investing in their future. A digital employee experience solution can include learning features.
  • Employee Feedback Channels – Retail employees shouldn’t just be receiving feedback — they should also be able to provide feedback. A mobile-first digital employee engagement solution can be used to gather feedback and give valuable insight. It is important to put strategies in place to address employee feedback, whether it is good or bad.
  • Creature Comforts – Underestimate the power of a secluded breakaway space at your peril. Retail work can be demanding and employees need the opportunity to unplug completely during their breaks. Comfortable seats and a tidy eating area — with a food prep space if you can manage it — may improve the employee experience even further. When you encourage employees to take breaks, consume nutritious foods, and socialise, you’re showing them that the organisation cares about their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Making your workplace an attractive proposition is about finding the balance between soft influences and tangible rewards. Get the balance right and you will up retention levels and motivate staff.

Key Takeaways

While having a “customer is king” approach is beneficial to your business, it’s also critical to consider the other individuals whose satisfaction is key to your company’s success – your frontline workers and their employee experience. The world is entering a period of flux in employer-employee relations, making it more important than ever to be an engaged employer.

Read more here about the power of employee engagement solutions and learn how they can keep your business on the winning path.

As a leader in the digital employee experience, Wyzetalk can help you to better connect with your workforce to increase engagement levels and business performance. Talk to one of our experts today to find out more.


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