How can we cultivate an environment staff enjoy that optimizes performance?
It’s particularly challenging to work as a sales associate on the shop floor. Its unlike any other profession, I’m struggling to think of one, except nursing, where patience, knowledge and communication skills are tested quite so regularly…by which I mean all day every day.
Consider it for a moment. Few other jobs are so explicitly customer facing, nor do they involve catering to the needs of someone in your workspace carrying the assumption that they already know more than you about the products and services you offer. A very testing environment to perform what is often a fairly low paid job.
As a result it’s not uncommon for retail workers to feel that they are not given the time to succeed and more importantly don’t receive the respect they deserve from employers- these feelings can be compounded by the failure of salaries in the sector to match inflation as a result of the continued struggle physical stores are facing due to digital disruption. A study in 2015 showed only 3% of retail staff were satisfied with their remuneration and The Hay Group reported a median turnover rate of 67% for part-time retail employees (2016).
So in a landscape shifting so profoundly to experience rich shopping, not only will the role of the in-store associate change dramatically over the coming years but the need to retain, nurture and develop the best experiences makers will become more critical than ever before.
Myagi believes the sales associate to be critical to the success of brick and mortar retailing, their importance cannot be understated. After all they are the people representing your store and brand- projecting your company’s image to the outside world. They hold the reputation of your company in the palm of their hands.
Much more so than your marketing and advertising campaigns sales associates are the human face of your brand persona. Sales associates are often the final touch point in the shopper journey. They can be the difference between a customer choosing product X, Y or nothing at all, but more importantly their behaviour can either reinforce a customers relationship with a brand or go so far as to destory it.
So how can we cultivate an environment where staff want to work, enjoy to work and pass that enjoyment onto your consumers
Here’s 4 quick suggestions to increase morale, boost performance and increase sales;
How much assistance and relevant information are you giving new employees when they start at your business? Even though you may have gone through the basics during the recruitment phase, it is never fair to assume that a new or veteran sales person knows exactly how to represent your company. Make sure staff are aware of common questions they will face and make sure it is very clear what is expected of them.
Learning & Development
What time & resources are you investing in your staff? It is great for staff to learn on the job, but you cannot afford for them to make too many mistakes along the way. Do they have access to online training they can undertake at times that suit them? Or are you dragging them in on off days and expecting their enthusiasm to carry you through? Cisco report that 41 percent of employees in companies that invest little or nothing in training said they’re likely to leave within one year. By contrast, that number dropped to 12 percent for employees receiving good training and development.
Create a Positive Working Culture
How do your staff engage with one another? Do they help one another? Do they shift blame or moan about management constantly? If there’s an atmosphere between staff this will permeate through the whole store and also be picked up by the customers. Think of ways you can reward your staff for great performance and create more carrots than sticks when it comes to staff morale. Make sure it is management who is setting the example here; ideas could range for bringing treats into work following a great sales week all the way through to staff room upgrades or off site experiences.
Whilst that is a bit of a ‘fluffy’ term, there are many forms of communication that can lead to much much happier team. What is the body language like of your staff? How does management present themselves to the rest of the team? Simple changes to the way you address a team member or greet them in the morning can make a huge difference. Is communication two way? Do staff feel like they are being listened to, or dictated to? A quick survey of your employees may throw up some surprising answers to that question. Responding to objections or leveraging staff is also a great way to make staff feel appreciated. If Joe Blogs says he would prefer to work on trainers than golf gear because he has a passion for trainers – why not utilise that strength when positioning them on the shop floor. And if there’s a valid reason an employee cannot work in a certain area or perform a certain task, make sure it is communicated to them effectively with strong reasoning.
Your sales associates are your most valuable asset. Make sure you are optimizing their performance by giving them the best working environment possible and the results will speak for themselves. Investing in them to transform from order takers to experience makers is a goal that will pay off now and in the long term.
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