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Employee Engagement in Retail: Why Employees Leave

Rachel Reed
3/28/19 12:20 PM

Retail is facing multiple challenges. Focus has shifted from product to customer experience, emerging markets have created uncharted forms of competition, and e-commerce has created a need for new positions, skills, and departments. All of these shifts leave employee satisfaction hanging in the balance and as a result, retailers are facing turnover at record highs and some of the lowest levels of employee engagement than any other industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that retail is among the top five industries with the highest turnover rate, and a Hay Group survey found that retailers averaged 67% turnover for part-time employees and 26% of retailers said turnover costs have increased.

What Makes Employees Leave

  1. They don’t like their managers
    Sixty percent of respondents had left jobs, or considered leaving when they didn't like the direct supervisors.
  2. They believe their company only cares about profit  
    More than half (59%) of the respondents felt their companies view profits or revenue as more important than how people are treated.
  3. They’re overqualified and bored
    Sixty-nine percent said they would be more satisfied if their employers better utilized their skills and abilities, and more than half (57%) said they needed to leave their current companies to take their careers to the next level.

According to Gallup, employees reported lack of career growth/development opportunities as the number one reason they left their current employers. Issues with supervisor/management and company culture also topped the list.

Employees Feel Disconnected

As retailers face a hybrid of in-store and online shopping, roles have shifted to increasing numbers of off-site or remote employees. This blended workforce can make aligning and maintaining a culture of recognition and engagement across multiple departments tricky.

What Employees Want

Employees who are highly engaged look for companies that offer them (from Gallup):

  1. The ability to do what they do best
  2. Greater work-life balance and better personal well-being
  3. Greater stability and job security
  4. The opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation

To build an attractive employer brand, look to employees. Develop a mission that is inclusive, inspiring, and relevant to not only employees but also to customers. Tie values to a job well done through relevant, timely, and genuine recognition.


Build a Culture of Recognition

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