Employee engagement is typically one of the most pressing concerns for retail organizations. It has massive implications for the company across numerous categories: Retail companies with highly-engaged employees perform better financially, employ a more productive workforce and have higher employee and customer satisfaction scores. However, you can’t just stick a retail employee on the sales floor and expect them to love what they do. There must be a concerted effort towards engaging your employees through a variety of initiatives.
They Think You Don’t Understand How Difficult Their Job Is
It really doesn’t matter whether you worked your way up to the top of the organization chart by selling on the retail floor or you’ve never worked a day in a storefront before. Perception is all that counts. If your employees have never seen you working down on the floor, then they’ll likely assume that you have no connection to the day-to-day realities of their job. This logically leads to the belief that you can’t be a true advocate for them.
The solution is simple: Pick one day a month and work on a retail floor among your salespeople. Go on a busy weekend day so you can see what peak store traffic is really like and experience the real issues that crop up on a daily basis. Don’t just go to stand there and supervise, either. Work with the customers and your employees and demonstrate that you are committed to learning more about their role in the company.
They Think That You Care More About The Customer Journey Than The Employee Journey
The customer is not always right. Even when they are, that shouldn’t equate to “the employee is always wrong.” On the mild end of the spectrum, customers sometimes demand compensation that is far outside the bounds of what is reasonable or act rudely and disrespectfully towards employees. On the extreme end, they can become threatening or violent. In cases such as these, the customer is very clearly not in the right, and employees should never have to feel like they are forced to tolerate abhorrent behavior because of company policy.
Companies spend a great deal of time and effort sketching out the customer journey, but comparatively few resources are devoted to the employee journey. Leaders must make a concerted effort to create an engaging employee journey that will act as the roadmap for all workers in their daily activities at the company.
Teach them how they are empowered to create value-added customer experiences by giving them autonomy in their professional interactions. Show them in detail what resources are available to them when they are faced with a difficult situation. Just as you need a well-planned customer journey in order to engage buyers, you must have a cohesive employee journey in order to keep employee engagement high.
They Feel The Company’s Values Don’t Align With Their Own
People never want to feel like they’re working for a faceless corporation that is nothing more than a profit-making machine. They want to feel like they are a part of an organization that has distinct values, both on a small and large scale. That is to say, an organization that cares about the people in its orbit: employees, customers and the community that surrounds it.
Thankfully, there are many easy ways to get your retail company more involved in community issues. You can partner with local non-profits to host fundraisers and other events and encourage your employees to participate along with you. You can solicit ideas for preferred charitable organizations from your employees and institute a period of donation matching by the company (after vetting the organization, of course). This strategy also happens to be good for the bottom line, as 55% of consumers indicate that they’re willing to pay premium prices to companies that prioritize social and environmental engagement.
They See Themselves As Cogs In The Machine
One of the biggest hurdles to retail employee engagement is an emotional disconnect from the company. This typically occurs because workers view themselves as replaceable and inconsequential, which prevents them from fully engaging within the organization.
Retail company leaders can alleviate this issue by taking an active role in initiatives such as employee recognition, training and collaborative projects. Personalize your employee recognition program by providing customized options for rewards. Attend sales floor training programs and solicit real-time feedback about them. Take the lead by inviting retail sales reps to strategic planning meetings so they can better understand the direction of the organization and their role in it.