L&D Tips for Retailers Facing High Turnover Rates

Use these tips to curb high retail turnover rates

Employee retention is a challenge within every industry, and a major objective for 87 percent of organizations. For companies working in retail, an industry that employs almost three million people, the problem is especially prominent.

Retail jobs are typically seen as a revolving door in that employees work with one retailer for a short time before moving on to another retailer or another career altogether. High retail turnover rates can mean big losses for retailers in the form of recruitment and administrative costs, as well as in training new staff.

Why is There Such a High Turnover of Staff in Retail?

The 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce revealed some of the reasons for the higher staff turnover rate in the retail sector. In the survey, employees were asked why they would leave their current employer, and gave the following responses:

  • 17 percent wanted to earn more
  • 5 percent wanted work that was more meaningful
  • 2 percent wanted better flexibility to manage family and personal demands

The study also found that retail employees generally fell into two distinct groups — those using a retail position as a “stop-gap” until they could find a more challenging role with more opportunities, and those who viewed retail as a viable lifelong occupation.

Addressing the Problem with Retail Learning and Development Strategies

Employers in the retail sector can encourage increased employee retention by providing more varied roles, a clear path for advancement, and regular employee reviews that focus on job satisfaction, morale and remuneration. In doing so, you may persuade employees to consider retail as a more sustainable occupation that offers the same development opportunities that are present in other sectors.

From customer service to new product rollouts, investing in learning and development should be an essential consideration for any retail organization. There are a number of best practices you can adopt to ensure your L&D program delivers the best results. These include:

On-the-Floor Training — One of the biggest training obstacles for retail employers is that it takes employees away from the shop floor in their retail locations. For this reason, training should be broken down into nano-sized chunks and delivered, if possible, as on-the-floor training. Some retailers offer app-based training, while others arrange training during quieter periods. At the very least, you should consider an induction manual that is accessible at all times.

Use the Blended Approach — Your training content should involve a blend of training methods adapted to the needs of your employees and the limitations that may make it difficult to deliver training in a conventional way. In addition to the on-the-floor training mentioned above, you may want to consider e-learning, mentoring from team leaders and supervisors, and video induction training that demonstrates your brand and company values. The aim is to develop a training plan that makes employees proud to work for your brand, and provide the support they need to feel motivated and an integral part of the team.

Customize Your Training — Generic training may seem easier and more cost-effective to implement, but, in the long run, it may not be the best investment. Most employees will already know the basics: being polite, greeting the customer and offering their assistance. Instead, adopt a proactive approach by identifying the gaps that exist across your workforce, and then customize your training plan to suit those realities. Developing a training model that is specific to your brand and business will help ensure consistency across your retail locations and allow you to easily update your training when required.

Know When to Loosen the Leash — It’s important to enforce rules and guidelines in any workplace, but in a creative space like retail, it sometimes pays to loosen the rules a little. There are some areas of retail that certainly require step-by-step instructions and a consistent approach, but you should also look at ways you can empower your staff and give them more responsibility.

High Retail Turnover Rates Requires Training

Developing Talent for the Long Term

Retail learning and development needs to go far beyond basic training to succeed in the long term. Staff turnover in retail may be high compared to other industries, but that doesn’t mean you can’t buck the trend.

If you want your employees to consider a lifelong career with you, set out a clear career path that encourages motivation, good performance and staying power. You can do this by adopting the following practices:

  • Schedule performance reviews every six months
  • Set out clear job descriptions for each employee in writing
  • Train your supervisors and managers as mentors
  • If possible, introduce a flexible working policy
  • Communicate business news such as profits and new products to staff so they feel a real sense of ownership
  • Introduce or review benefit or incentive packages

Training, nurturing and rewarding your employees works. You only have to look at Forbes’ 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015 to see that for yourself. Retail outlets that consistently and proactively manage loss prevention and employee retention build stronger customer service while keeping hold of talent that strengthens their brand.

High Turnover Is Costly But You Can Avoid It

When you consider that it costs approximately 16 percent of a retail employee’s annual salary to replace that one employee, it makes sense to get your retail learning and development house in order. When you do, you’ll reap the many benefits that your competitors may be missing out on — happy and loyal employees who project a positive face for your brand, give great customer service and are proud to work for you.

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