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5 ways to improve employee engagement in the retail industry

Employee engagement is a critical factor in the success of any organisation, including those in the retail industry. With 49% of UK deskless workers saying they’re open to new opportunities, retailers must take active steps to improve engagement before it’s too late.

Fortunately, there are several practical strategies that can be implemented by employers in the retail industry to solve employee engagement challenges. From offering flexible working hours to introducing employee surveys and employee engagement platforms, here are five ways to help increase employee motivation, satisfaction, and engagement.

1. Provide recognition for employees’ efforts

Acknowledging employee performance with recognition can go a long way in boosting employee engagement. Regularly recognising employee efforts and successes can increase motivation, morale, and engagement levels.

And that doesn’t have to only mean paying them more money. Show them they’re valued in other ways by creating moments that matter throughout their employee journey.

These moments impact affect how your employees engage with you as an employer. They cover every stage of the employee lifecycle – from initial attraction and onboarding right through to exit – but, as every employee has unique circumstances, it’s important to properly measure, rather than assume, what these moments are.

2. Implement career development programmes

Investing in employee development is one of the best ways employers in the retail industry can improve employee engagement. Providing employees with training opportunities, access to mentorships, or continuing education courses can help them build on their skills and helps foster a long-term emotional connection with your organisation.

3. Build strong relationships with employees

Creating a culture of open communication between employers and employees is essential to improve employee engagement in the retail industry. Listening to employee feedback and responding to employee concerns can help employers better understand what motivates team members, leading to higher engagement levels.

An open, honest culture helps build employee engagement, improves retention, helps attract the best talent, and has a positive impact on the bottom line. And, while building this culture is challenging, it’s far from impossible.

There’s no quick fix, but enabling a connection between deskless employees and their line managers will help build a better working environment and culture for all.

4. Create a positive work environment

A positive work environment that values employee contributions is key for employee engagement. Employers should also focus on creating a workplace culture of collaboration and respect, where employees feel valued and appreciated.

In the retail industry, much of that positive environment comes from employees feeling physically and emotionally safe. Retail employees are often required to work long hours on their feet, handle heavy merchandise, and interact with a large number of customers.

In addition, the pandemic brought health and safety concerns to the forefront for many employees, who were at increased risk of exposure due to their frequent interaction with customers and co-workers.

This heightened strain often results in more health and safety incidents, many of which go unreported and could be avoided if communications channels were more open and effective.

Running regular pulse surveys can help your frontline workers become more confident in speaking up about safety standards and wellbeing concerns. They can also help your organisation identify areas of the business that may be experiencing increased risk, not just from a physical health perspective, but from a mental health, resourcing and inclusivity perspective, too.

5. Take action

Failing to act on feedback can have a negative impact on employee engagement, retention figures and overall customer experience. Employee surveys help deskless workers to be heard, but this should be more than just a box ticking exercise.

Surveys should be used as a means for gathering insights and data over time – and these insights should be aligned to your organisation’s KPIs, providing detail on key issues and highlighting opportunities for change and innovation.

Tailoring your surveys to your deskless workforce – as covered earlier in this eBook – means you’ll get better response rates and more actionable insights that can ensure fair and inclusive decisions for all your workforce, regardless of their schedules and locations.

Engaging your deskless workforce is essential if you want your retail organisation to provide the best customer experiences. To build better engagement, employee listening needs to be a constant activity within organisations, it helps leaders to identify what is – or isn’t – working, to respond to sources of disengagement, and to nurture a healthy culture.

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