Retailer Secrets: The temporary vs. the career path workforce

Unfortunately, retail has become more of a transient industry for workers, rather than a place to learn great skills and make a career. Long gone are the days of retail traineeships, and a number of retailers provide little or no training to their workforce. It’s no wonder people move in and out so quickly.

My observation is that retail seems to have become a “fallback” position; if someone can’t make it in another career, then they simply get a job in retail to tide them over until something else comes along. This is exacerbated by retailers with poor recruitment processes who employ staff to fill a role rather than focus on what type of person is best for the role and go about finding the right person.

Additionally, retailers typically hire a large number of staff for the pre-Christmas shopping period. These people often are poorly-screened and receive little or no induction and training. They operate on the understanding that they only have a role for 6-8 weeks, so their “care factor” is a lot lower.

This all leads to a raft of the wrong staff being employed, either temporary or long-term, resulting in poor customer service that just annoys more shoppers.

Another factor that is impacting retail is the growth in employing casual workers. I quite understand the need for a more casual workforce, as it provides retailers with much more flexibility with rostering and the ability to send staff home if it’s quiet, bring them in on short notice when it’s busy, etc.

The problem I have with casuals is exactly that—their job description of “casual.” When I talk to these staff in a store and I ask what they do, I am often told: “I’m just a casual.” And that unfortunately also describes their work attitude.

Now I’m not saying all casuals are like this—some are amazing because they have the right attitude. However, a lot feel disconnected from the other team members due to lack of training and little or no inclusion.

Here are my recommendations on what retailers can do to help reduce staff turnover and improve the focus of casuals, as well as provide more of a career path to all staff, which will also help reduce staff turnover!

  1. Get the recruitment process right. Focus on employing the right people with the right attitude, even if it’s just for a short-term role. People who love serving customers and are open to feedback. As we always say, “Hire for attitude and train for skills.”
  2. Provide a proper induction for all staff, even those in short-term roles. A big reason why a lot of staff leave is due to poor induction.
  3. Make sure all staff receive initial and ongoing job-related training, so they can perform the job to the right level.
  4. Provide regular feedback, particularly positive feedback. This helps inspire and motivate as well as tell all the staff you care.
  5. Create a career path. Find out each staff member’s goals and ambitions and work with them to help them achieve this if they so desire and have the aptitude.
  6. Provide the opportunity for all staff to undertake non-work-related training and flexible work hours (if possible). Many younger team members are very willing to learn new skills!
  7. Make the workplace a fun place to work so staff is motivated to turn up and do their absolute best.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.