Working in retail is hard. Here’s how to make it easier for your store teams

Jul 25, 2019 10:32:26 AM

Employee experience

The humble store associate does not get enough credit. Anyone who has ever worked in retail will tell you that it’s no easy ride. Shifts are long, hours can be unpredictable, the pay isn’t great, you’re on your feet all day… and don’t even get us started on rude customers. At best, you get bored; at worst, jaded.

Staff turnover is particularly high in the retail industry, as many sales associates are students working part-time for extra money. Because of that, it can be easy to dismiss the importance of employee engagement. They’re not sticking around, so why bother putting the effort in, right? Very wrong.

You only have to look at Best Buy to see why. When they were in bad shape just a few years ago, new CEO Hubert Joly took the time to visit stores and gain feedback from employees, resulting in the decision to invest heavily in employee training. Today, Glassdoor reports that 79% of Best Buy employees would recommend working there, and Joly has an impressive employee approval rating of 93%.

A study from Gallup shows that businesses with high levels of engagement can experience 59% less employee turnover, and can even see a 21% increase in profitability.

Last month we wrote a blog post about the 3 top qualities of a great sales associate. But truly great sales associates aren’t born, they’re made - by employers who take the time to properly train and support them. Here’s how to treat your sales associates right:

Traditional team training is boring - so make it fun!

We hate to say it, but it’s true. Making your store teams watch an outdated training video (kids, ask your parents what a video is) on that dusty old TV on wheels in the back room is not conducive to a positive learning experience. We’ve all been made to watch one of those videos at some point, and we all know how quickly your eyes glaze over and your mind wanders.

Not only is this not an effective training method, but it also sends the wrong message to employees. It implies that the company doesn’t care very much about their sales associates, and that training them is at the very bottom of their list of priorities.

If you want your store teams to pay attention and actually retain the information they’re given, the best option is gamified training.

According to Anadea, an impressive 90% of employees are more productive when their work is gamified, with 72% believing that gamification inspires them to work harder.

And it’s not just the fun aspect of gamification that employees respond to. When sales associates feel that their employer is actively investing in their teams’ development, it boosts morale and therefore drives engagement.

Rewards and incentives actually work

If you want your sales associates to stick around, it’s important to remember that it’s not all about taking. Employers are increasingly expected to support their employees’ professional and personal development, offering added benefits to sweeten the deal.

Small rewards - like a free coffee, a fun team night out at a bar, a £20 gift card, or even just getting to leave 30 minutes early - don’t cost head office much in either money or effort, but they can make a huge difference to your store teams. It’s those added little gestures that help build a company’s reputation as a great employer.

And incentives don’t necessarily have to be material. Having a leaderboard that shows how store associates have scored on quizzes and challenges creates friendly competition amongst colleagues, which in turn drives employee engagement and performance.

Take the friction out of everyday tasks

As we mentioned in our last blog post on sales associates, store teams are used to juggling several tasks all at once. Working in a dynamic and fast-paced environment is part and parcel of retail sales, but that doesn’t mean retailers shouldn’t try to make things a little easier for their store teams - particularly during busy shopping holidays like Black Friday.

The key here is digitization. A lot of the manual processes stores have used for years are time-consuming and inefficient, a problem that can be easily remedied with the use of mobile technology.

The ability to do things like sending pictures of in-store displays directly to HQ for approval, or completing a store visit without a Yellow Pages-sized stack of forms and checklists, will save your employees time, effort, and a whole lot of stress. It also leaves them with more time to help customers. And that is, after all, what they do best.


YOOBIC Boost helps retailers empower their sales associates to do their best every day, using gamified, targeted microlearning to drive employee engagement. Find out how here.