Motivating Retail Workers: Why Employee Morale is Important

Trendy products, glossy merchandising and prime locations can make a retail store. But happy workers make retail stores thrive. For them to be happy, the retail space needs to have a sense of high morale.

Unfortunately, employee morale in the retail industry seems to be on the decline. In 2017, a Mental Health America (MHA) research study revealed that businesses lost between $450-$500 billion annually in productivity because of disengaged workers (much of which was productivity in retail spaces).

The loss of productivity is not only costly for business. It typically accompanies a lack of engagement from workers who are too burned out to offer their best service to customers. Of course, poor customer service reflects poorly on the brand and can lead to a vicious cycle of low wellbeing among your team members.

With that said, it’s vital to boost and maintain employee morale. But how?

How to Boost Employee Morale in a Retail Space

Employee morale describes the overall attitude, confidence, outlook and satisfaction that a shift worker feels at their workplace.

An interesting aspect of employee morale is the fact that you can’t improve it directly – it’s the product of your environment. The equation is simple – a positive environment fosters high employee morale while a negative environment fosters low employee morale.

There are some simple yet powerful tactics you can deploy to create and maintain a positive environment and the high employee morale that it brings.

Recognize a Job well done

Recognition is a precursor to motivation. Acknowledging the efforts, achievements and dedication of your workers will give them a reason to continue their good work. In fact, they’ll likely strive for even higher performance.

Let’s say one of your shift workers demonstrates a particular skill or ability on the floor (i.e. establishing rapport with customers). Mention it to them and the positive impact it has on business (i.e. repeat purchases and loyalty). That staff member will now be aware of their value in the organization, motivating to repeat that action or execute that skill again. You should regularly commend great staff for the good work they do!

Encourage Peer-to-Peer Recognition

Recognition of your workers shouldn’t end with managers or supervisors. It’s equally important to have your team members encouraging each other as well. Your workers often spend more time with each other than they do with management, and their interactions have an effect on each others’ self-esteem.  

A shift worker who doesn’t receive recognition from fellow workers can feel undervalued, even if the feeling is subtle. With that said, it’s wise to encourage peer-to-peer recognition among your team members. You can do this at team meetings or social events where you highlight worker successes, and then encourage other team members to congratulate them.

Listen to your Workers

Listening to your workers is a skill that’s easily appreciated but sometimes not so easily executed. By listening we don’t simply mean hearing. Listening to your team members means that you will consider their feedback, ideas or concerns when its offered or encouraged. It can be sobering, enlightening or refreshing to hear from your shift workers.

Regardless of the emotions felt, which should be kept in check, you must be all ears for your workers. Their feedback can bring internal issues to light and their ideas could resolve a problem that has affected productivity for months. Their suggestions can make your job easier.

Ultimately, listening to your team will make them feel valued and they will be more dedicated to their role. This will result in an increase in employee morale because of the support you provide and the openness you encourage.

Empower them with Better Tools

Poorly-maintained equipment or glitchy technology will demotivate your team – fast. This is especially true if they know that other organizations adhere to a standard of providing their staff with functional tools.  

But maintaining equipment goes beyond motivation – it’s also a matter of productivity and efficiency. For example, many retail stores are using contactless card readers for mobile payments. If there are connectivity issues with these devices, it would take multiple attempts to process transactions. This result in the familiar sight of long lineups with antsy and frustrated customers and slow completion times for employees.

Testing and maintenance (and replacement if necessary) of retail devices can prevent these glitches from slowing down your workers’ efficiency. And this principle goes beyond POS devices. Regardless of the tools used in your retail space, make sure that they are up and running so as to not cause hiccups and headaches that would frustrate your workers.

Get Collaborative

This point goes back to the idea of peer-to-peer recognition. Remember the expression “birds of a feather flock together”? It also applies to your team. True, your workers likely come from different backgrounds, but they are all working towards a common goal – providing the utmost value to a customer.

Therefore, the more tasks they work on with each other, the more acquainted they’ll become with their colleagues’ work habits and communication styles. This interchange of ideas can equip teammates with new strategies and solutions to improve their handling of customers.

It’s also important for managers and shift workers to collaborate on key tasks. Managers can mentor them while workers can provide feedback and insight to their supervisors.

There are many ways to foster collaboration within the retail environment. This can happen at the job site itself (i.e. pairing workers together to complete tasks) or after-hours (i.e. outings that encourage an interchange of experiences and ideas).

“The Hyr team delivers every time. They’ve helped us find knowledgeable, dependable, and personable staff that embody the brand and connect with customers in a genuine way. The team moves quickly and is always available to help us fill a shift.”

Uppercase. Retail, tailor made.

Happy Employees Are Productive Workers

Low employee morale, as we alluded to earlier, can start a vicious cycle. The effects of a stressful environment often go home with workers, which can lead to poor lifestyle habits and in turn, decreased enthusiasm. More concerningly, an environment that leaves workers disengaged is likely to have a negative impact on their mental health.

In addition to incentives and reward programs, the five strategies mentioned above can put your team members on an upward spiral, so-to-speak. They will bring energy and passion with them and this will reflect in their dealings with customers. Ultimately, their positive attitude and presence will be contagious!