Holding On to Your Best Employees is the Your Goal; Here’s the Plan
In our last article, we explored how to hire great employees, but now that you have them –– how do you keep them? Believe it or not, it’s not as mysterious as many retailers think. For successful companies, keeping stellar, satisfied employees comes down to one thing –– consistent communication. To develop consistent communication, there are five key elements in learning how to do it effectively, those elements are:
- Develop an Effective Training Program
- Give Consistent Positive Feedback
- Understand Their Personal Motivations
- Provide Continuing Education
- Give Value Based Rewards/Recognition
As a manager, it’s important to learn how to master each one because employees rarely leave companies, they leave managers. The steps to good retention are actually simple, but they do take planning and follow through, much as running any other part of your business does. Good managers see their employees as the valuable commodity that they are (equal to or greater than their product). Let’s explore those steps a bit more here.
#1: Develop An Effective Training Program
The first impression a new hire gets is through the training process. A good training program is vital to providing employees the tools they need to be successful. Retail training programs attempt to prepare new hires for scenarios they will encounter and since those are so diverse and hard to anticipate, managers often opt for the “sink or swim” method of training; introducing them to the job by having them do it. This can be difficult because this method leaves new hires unprepared, uncertain and fearful of the job. While there will be plenty of on-the-job learning, good managers prepare new employees with the tools they need to be successful. A solid training program should consist of:
- Setting clear expectations on customer service: The company philosophy and expectations on service are essential for employees to align their behaviors to match that, so ensure the vision is clear.
- Where to find product information and how to access it: This step empowers your new employee to be resourceful when problem solving with customers and empowered employees consistently provide great service. For jewelers, this includes stone, cut, original and carat information.
- Role play scenarios based on commonly encountered situations in your store: You can’t prepare them for every situation, but you can get them comfortable with common ones so they understand what type of interaction you want. Role plays give opportunities to try out new language in a safe environment.
- Engage with the product themselves: Have them size rings on each other, understand how long a necklace should sit on the neck and what length that is, or have them try out any trends, such as stacking bracelets or layering multiple strands of necklaces to achieve a look that a customer has seen and wants to achieve.
Investing your resources at this point will certainly be worth it. When an employee feels a company cares enough about them to give them good training and proper tools, their commitment takes root and instantly grows from there.
#2: Give Consistent Positive Feedback
Most managers provide a lot of feedback in the first few weeks of a new employee’s time with them and then (once they are trained) forget to comment on work or skills unless there is a problem. This works against retaining this employee as everyone needs consistent feedback to feel valued. That does not mean you have to praise them ten times a week or nitpick every task they do. A simple, “That was a great interaction with Mrs. Jones, she will definitely be back to shop more because you listened carefully to her needs and explained how the product benefits suited those needs.” is enough to let your great employee know you are aware of their work and appreciate it. The trick to feedback (positive or negative) is to be specific about something you saw and why it impacts your business.
#3: Understand Their Personal Motivations
After a couple weeks, take a moment to ask your new employee why they work for you. With observation, you may have already guessed at some of their needs, but asking them shows your respect and care. Some people work for the money, some work to supplement another job or school and some just like to interact with people or a great product. Understanding why your employee works for you is an important step to keeping them long-term. Tailoring the job to their values (when possible) goes a long way in their job satisfaction, and keeps them happy. For example, if Sally is in college and is heading into her mid-terms, offering a couple less shifts or a strategic schedule to balance hours and school needs is a great way to add value to her job.
#4: Provide Continuing Education
Stagnation in the enemy of every great job. Let’s face it, when you get bored in a job, that is your first step in finding a new one, so keeping a great employee engaged in their job is to your advantage. Continuing to educate your employees is huge. Remember to take into consideration why they are working for you to understand how best to incorporate this education, but make sure they are challenged to grow. For some employees, this will be webinars on your industry or how to elevate your sales engagement; others will be best served with administrative tasks or merchandising displays, while others will want to know how to be promoted to the next level. If you’re part of a market or attend industry events, take them along so they can get the full experience! Some continued education will apply to all employees (like incorporating new skills and product knowledge as it evolves), but most should be specific to the individual to truly affect their longevity.
#5: Give Value Based Rewards/Recognition
Each individual employee will be motivated by something different, but for a team, rewards and recognition are crucial to keeping employees longer. This adds fun and competition into the workplace and gives them something to be proud of and strive for. This formal recognition should be regular, monthly or quarterly, to keep engagement high. Any recognition should align with your goals for the store but focused on what the employee does to help achieve those. There are two categories for rewards and recognition:
- Cyclical – every month/quarter there is a winner for the best overall sales, the highest conversion, most credit cards or reward programs opened, etc. These stay consistent so employees can work toward them every day.
- Event based – Contests are fun and get results, so make them simple, make them fair and have a fun prize.
The reward can be as simple as the title and a small trophy or plaque; especially the cyclical types of recognition and for the event based (money is always good) in whatever form it takes. Unique rewards are also great such as a favored schedule, an additional half day off, gift cards to restaurants are all fun ways to implement prizes into a contest or goal.
There Is A Way to Keep Great Employees
As you can see, creating a work environment that encourages and delivers amazing service and results is not accidental; it requires planning, investment and consistent communication. Keeping great employees is easy to do when you focus on them as the vital part of your company they are.
Want to learn more about employee relations and keeping great employees? Register for JA New York and attend our summer education series today!