Filling labor gaps with happy employees

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Labor shortages abound in the retail industry. Finding employees is a challenge. Keeping employees is a challenge, and keeping employees happy is also a challenge. As retailers scramble to find effective solutions to an ongoing labor shortage, the industry at large is asking a pivotal question: “To what extent is employee satisfaction impacting both customer satisfaction and our bottom line?”

But even more pressing, perhaps, is the question: “How can I measure the impacts of employee satisfaction on sales?”

Happy employees create happy customers

Retail employee satisfaction can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. When retail employees are content, motivated, and engaged in their work, they are more likely to provide better customer service and create a positive shopping experience. Satisfied retail employees are more attentive, helpful, and polite when interacting with customers. They tend to go the extra mile to answer questions and address concerns. Positive employee attitudes can also be contagious, influencing the overall atmosphere in a retail store and enhancing the shopping experience.

Content employees often work harder to develop a deep understanding of the products they are selling, enabling them to provide accurate information and recommendations to customers. High levels of employee satisfaction can also lead to lower turnover rates. When employees stay with a company for an extended period, they become more experienced and skilled in their roles, enabling them to upsell or cross-sell products more readily.

Empowered employees are better equipped to handle customer complaints effectively, minimizing dissonance in conflict resolutions with a solution-centered attitude. Additionally, happy employees attract business when they speak positively about their workplace and can help build customer and brand loyalty.

Solutions for improving employee satisfaction

Several strategies exist to keep employees satisfied and engaged even in times of labor shortages. By implementing these strategies, retailers can create a positive work environment, reduce turnover, and keep employees engaged and motivated, even when resources are stretched thin. Here are some suggestions for ensuring your employees stay happy and happily stay:

  1. Compensation, scheduling, and benefits
    Pay competitive wages and offer performance-based incentives to help attract and retain employees. Consider adjusting wages to reflect the market conditions and the increased demand for retail workers.

    Consider EAPs to help employees with personal issues or challenges they may face outside of work. EAPs can provide valuable support. In addition, offer health and wellbeing benefits, such as mental health resources, wellness programs, and access to healthcare. Employees who feel their health is valued are more likely to be satisfied.

  2. Employee development and recognition
    Regularly recognize and reward employees for their hard work and dedication. Simple gestures like employee of the month awards or gift cards can go a long way in boosting morale.

    Invest in training and development programs to enhance employees’ skills and career prospects. When employees see opportunities for growth, they are more likely to stay with the company. Offering flexible scheduling options can also accommodate employees’ needs and help them balance work with their personal lives, reducing burnout and increasing job satisfaction.

    Cross-train employees to handle multiple roles within the store. This flexibility can help cover staffing gaps and provide employees with a variety of tasks, making their work more interesting. Encourage collaboration between departments to better allocate resources and staff when there are shortages. This can help employees feel supported and valued.

    Give employees a sense of ownership and empowerment in their roles. When employees feel valued and that their contributions matter, they are more likely to be engaged and satisfied.

  3. Empathetic leadership
    Keep employees informed about company goals, challenges, and changes in work procedures. Open and transparent communication can help build trust and reduce uncertainty. Encourage regular feedback from employees regarding their concerns, suggestions, and needs. Use this feedback to make improvements and show that you value their input.

    Ensure a safe working environment, especially in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Implement safety measures and protocols to protect employees and customers. Implement efficient and streamlined processes to reduce employee stress and workload. Simplify procedures, provide necessary tools and technology, and minimize unnecessary tasks.

    Organize team-building activities and morale-boosting events to create a positive work culture and strengthen the sense of belonging. Regularly show appreciation through thank-you notes, small gifts, or company-sponsored events to celebrate achievements and milestones.

    If feasible, consider allowing employees to work remotely for certain roles, which can help attract and retain talent while reducing the strain on in-store staffing.

Measuring solution impacts

While plentiful opportunities abound for increasing employee satisfaction, knowing the best solution isn’t always intuitive. By conducting A/B tests with the help of the MarketDial app, retailers can learn what solutions are having a positive impact on both the employee and sales. 

One retailer increased wages for employees in certain markets that experienced particularly high cost of living increases. They measured performance of stores in these markets against control stores, and were surprised to see high performance. Other retailers have tested the impact of new employee training programs on store performance and employee turnover. The options for testing are as expansive as your creative solutions.

To learn more how testing can help you identify the most effective employee satisfaction solutions, check out these resources:
What is test and learn?
How DICK’S Sporting Goods leverages testing to take data-driven action
Enhance decision-making with test and learn software
Test and learn examples of retail success

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