The Retail Career Ladder

The Retail Career Ladder: Are you helping your employees climb high?

07 July 2022

Training & learning | Retail | Marketoonist

In our new summer series of cartoons, we’ll be inviting guest contributors to share their insights into common retail challenges. 💬

First up...

Retail Career Ladder

emmanuel-aubletThis blog was guest written by Emmanuel Aublet, who has been a pivotal figure in shaping the retail and restaurant industries over the past decade. Emmanuel is the former President at Pizza Hut France, former General Manager for France, Belgium, and French Switzerland at Subway, and recently broadened his career by writing his first novel!

He was snoring!

I could have sworn that the kid, slouched over a desk on the left side, was snoring!

Standing in front of an agitated crowd in a professional school North of Paris, I had answered the invitation of a teacher who was eager to get business people in front of her struggling 18-year-old students and help them understand what their future jobs looked like in reality, away from the textbooks!

The presentation was going well, focusing on customer interactions, when a kid interrupted me: “how can I take your job?”. The whole classroom erupted in jeers, hoots and laughs.

I had to pause for a second: how was I going to introduce them to the concept of the career ladder?

When you think about it, building a career is pretty straightforward: you work hard, get noticed, get trained, get promoted and repeat…

When it comes to hiring and employee retention in retail, most companies are proud to advertise their career prospects; HR does a wonderful job creating career paths and tell you:

  • What you need to learn at each step.
  • Where can you find the info.
  • Who will mentor you.
  • How you can demonstrate your accomplishment and get noticed.

It’s true that in retail, the restaurant business or in the armed forces, you will find numerous examples of impressive individuals cruising from part-time store associate to retail director.

Yet, sometimes, they forget to tell you things: without a top MBA, you will quickly hit a glass ceiling. Without growth, there will be no new positions. Or simply, some companies are cynical and don’t really care about staff getting left behind!

But what happens when even the best talents seemingly don’t want a retail career? When they don’t want to wait and respect the old ways? 

Today, companies are increasingly confronted with no-shows, unfilled vacancies, tough hiring competition and are struggling with retail employee retention.

I would urge companies to be open: tell your target crowd that you want them to come and work for you:

  • Tell them that you don’t care whether they will stay decades or leave after a few years, not because you don’t care but because you respect their freedom.

  • Tell them that you will invest in them, regardless of how long they will stay on the retail career ladder.

  • Tell them that you will be supportive if they leave you for a better opportunity,

  • Tell them that you will be happy if they stay for a long time building their expertise and enriching the company on the way.

Tell them that you don’t care if they snore a little bit, yet ask the most insightful questions at the end of the day…


Want to find out more about how to create a better employee experience for store teams? We surveyed 1,400 frontline employees to find out what they want most from their employers in 2022. 

Frontline Employee Survey Retail CareersGET YOUR COPY