22/06/2024 3:10 PM


Piece of That Fashion

Riding Out the Great Resignation: 5 Top Strategies


This article was contributed by Jennifer C. Loftus, MBA, SPHR, PHRca, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, CCP, CBP, GRP. Jennifer C. Loftus is a Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions, a compensation consulting firm.  Jennifer has 23 years of experience garnered at organizations including the Hay Group, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company, and Harcourt General.  

Many things have changed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, from how we view people coughing in the grocery store to how we wash cloth face masks just as regularly as our socks. The world of work has seen some incredible shifts as well. And one of those shifts has been termed the “Great Resignation,” a trend in which record numbers of employees have been expressing job dissatisfaction and quitting. 

In March 2022 alone, 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is alarming for all employers, especially small to midsize retail businesses that may have already been struggling to find their footing after the brunt of the pandemic. If you’re wondering, “Why is this happening?” you’re not alone. 

Recent research provides some insight into the issue. According to a February 2022 Pew Research Center survey, “majorities of workers who quit a job in 2021 say low pay (63%), no opportunities for advancement (63%), and feeling disrespected at work (57%) were reasons why they quit.” Child care issues and a lack of flexibility were also among the top-ranking reasons. 

Moving forward with the current business climate should hinge on two things: (1) understanding the causes of churn at your business and (2) taking stronger steps toward retaining current employees. In this article, we’ll help you with the second element, boosting retention, by equipping you with five strategies that will help you ride out the effects of the Great Resignation: 

  1. Prioritize transparency.
  2. Seek feedback on the employee experience.
  3. Optimize your compensation strategy.  
  4. Provide the best tools for the job. 
  5. Boost morale with an employee recognition program.

As you strive to implement these strategies in your own business operations, you may find it beneficial to work with an HR consultant. A consultant can assess your business’s current state with employee loyalty and retention and help you create a customized approach to improving your relationships with your employees. Let’s dive in! 

1. Prioritize transparency. 

As a retailer, you know that not being transparent with your customers is a major communication mistake. This is because transparency, even about negative things, can help build trust between you and your customers and help in times of crisis management (like the pandemic).

Transparency is equally important when it comes to your relationships with your employees. Being transparent shows your employees that you respect them and see them as collaborators in the success of your business. 

So, whether you’re rolling out a new product line or adjusting your policy on how much time off employees can take during the holiday season, be open and clear about your expectations. Note that it’s not enough to simply state new expectations, either. You’ll also need to make it a habit to explain the rationale of decisions that impact the employee experience. Providing this rationale, even with sticky topics, will give employees insight into how those decisions are making the business better overall.

2. Seek feedback on the employee experience. 

Without a thorough audit of the employee experience, you’ll struggle to improve it. This is why it’s important to seek feedback from your employees about their work experience and relationship with your business as an employer. 

RealHR Solutions’ guide to employee retention suggests that a great way to get this feedback is to conduct an employee retention survey. Here are some examples of questions that you might include on your retention survey: 

  • Are you able to reach your full potential in this role? Why or why not? 
  • Do you feel that you are compensated fairly for your work? What would you like to see added to your compensation package? (e.g. raises, more time off, etc.) 
  • Do you take advantage of opportunities for further learning and education? What other opportunities, if any, would you like to see offered? 
  • How would you describe your relationship with your manager? What could they do to improve how they manage and direct you? 
  • Do you feel like your contributions to this business are seen and recognized? How could we better recognize you for the work you do? 

An employee retention survey with questions like these is a formal way of asking your employees for feedback. You can also seek feedback from your employees through one-on-one manager/direct report meetings or casual conversations during team meetings. 

However you decide to ask your employees for feedback, make sure you record it (especially if you’re gathering feedback in a casual way). By recording data on the employee experience, you’ll be able to keep track of changes and progress over time. 

It is also essential to take employee feedback into serious consideration. It’s not enough to simply ask employees to fill out a survey and stick all of their answers in a folder, never to be seen again. Employees will only feel truly heard if you’re actively listening and reviewing their feedback, looking for opportunities to improve their experience. Even if you can’t deliver on everything they suggest, like more PTO or a better insurance plan, you’ll still build a rapport with your employees as you make it clear that you’re trying to do the best you can to incorporate their feedback. 

3. Optimize your compensation strategy.

The Pew Research Center survey mentioned above highlights employees’ needs for better pay and benefits. This is hardly surprising, given how the U.S. inflation rate is the highest it’s been in 40 years. Everyday staples, from groceries to gasoline, are simply more expensiv
e, leaving many employers struggling to keep compensation consistent with the cost of living. 

This means that one of the most important things you can do now to boost satisfaction and retention is to optimize how you compensate your employees. The best way to do so is to take a total rewards approach to compensation. A total rewards approach can help you keep your employees satisfied and improve retention, all while helping you to be as efficient as possible with your business’s money. 

The key to a total rewards approach is taking a holistic view of how employees are compensated. Specifically, you’ll take into account both: 

  • Direct compensation: This aspect of compensation includes salary, bonuses, incentive pay, allowances, and overtime pay. In other words, direct compensation is all of the financial ways you compensate employees. 
  • Indirect compensation: This non-financial aspect of compensation includes benefits, job flexibility, employee recognition, career development opportunities, your internal culture, and more (like an employee matching gift program or a health and wellness program). 

Note that your business should still try to ensure you’re offering competitive pay as best as possible. But, by incorporating both the direct and indirect aspects of compensation into your strategy, you’ll have a framework to think about the big picture more flexibly, allowing you to strike a balance between keeping your employees financially equipped to deal with the current rise in the cost of living and demonstrating how their work is valued with other, less tangible benefits, like mental health days or management training opportunities. 

If you’re unsure of where to begin when it comes to improving your approach to compensation, working with a compensation expert can help. According to Astron Solutions’ guide to compensation consulting, finding the right consultant for your business will require some due diligence. Make sure you thoroughly research different candidates (or get recommendations from other retail professionals) before reaching out to candidates. This will help you find a consultant who will act as a true partner in helping you strengthen your compensation strategy. 

4. Provide the best tools for the job. 

Say you hire someone to weed your flower bed, but the only tool you provide them with is a stick. Sure, the person you hire could get creative with using the stick in the weed removal process. But after a while, the work would get tedious and they would probably quit. 

The same goes for your retail employees. Without the right tools, their jobs can be more difficult than they have to be, which can lead to job dissatisfaction and turnover. This is why it’s imperative for you to thoroughly research, test, and invest in easy-to-use tools that contribute to the employee experience and the health of your business. 

One of the most essential tools to help with retail employee satisfaction is a user-friendly point-of-sale (POS) system. With the right POS system, you can easily manage your business’s inventory, track customer purchases, and facilitate marketing or loyalty programs all in one place. Plus, the best POS providers will help you create a beautifully-designed eCommerce website. 

To find the POS system that is right for you, use the following to conduct thorough research on each provider you’re considering:

  • Google searches 
  • Software review websites 
  • Customer reviews 
  • Recommendations from retail colleagues 

Investing in a retail-specific POS system will not only help you boost your sales and set your business up for long-term success but will also make your employees’ lives easier as they leverage hassle-free tools and free up the time and headspace to help you with larger goals instead of trying to simply stay afloat with day-to-day tasks. 

5. Boost morale with an employee recognition program. 

Another easy way to increase employee satisfaction and retention is to set up an employee recognition program. By taking the time to recognize your employees for their hard work, you’re showing them that they’re valuable members of your team. 

To set up your program, you’ll want to figure out the following: 

  • Eligibility for recognition: Different accomplishments call for different types of recognition. This is why it’s important to scale recognition efforts and rewards to the accomplishment rather than setting a specific threshold. For example, you might thank the person who consistently cleans the breakroom coffee pot with a shoutout on the company bravo board. On the other hand, you could reward the employee who spends a month reworking your inventory process with a spot bonus. 
  • Recognition program budget: You’ll need to take into account the money that you’re willing to spend on employee recognition and stick to a consistent budget. This will not only help you keep your program sustainable and efficient, but will also help you deliver recognition fairly. 
  • Types of rewards: There are a myriad of rewards that you could offer as part of your employee recognition program, from small things like thank-you cards to big things like spot bonuses or extra time off. What you decide to offer will depend on your budget and the eligibility requirements you determine. 

An employee recognition program can be a fun way to get employees excited about being productive and going above and beyond at work. Plus, when you prioritize recognition as an employer, you’ll also set your employees up to recognize and appreciate each other, thus strengthening your internal working culture, which can contribute to better retention, too. 

There are a number of ups and downs you face as a business owner. And currently, the impacts of the Great Resignation, combined with a turbulent economy, have created an unusually difficult business environment.

But as you implement these five strategies—which are all designed to improve the employee experience and strengthen your employee/employer relationships—you’ll find that you are better equipped to ride out the Great Resignation and still work toward long-term business goals. You can do this!

Brian King

Brian King is a co-founder & CRO of Rain Retail Software. He has a degree in Business Management from the BYU Marriott School of Business, 10 years of small-business marketing experience, and over 13 years of direct sales experience. To date, Brian has worked with thousands of main-street retailers to
help improve their online presence and performance. Rain specializes in point of sale and website software for specialty retailers.


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