Help Wanted: How Can Retailers Better Attract and Retain Employees?

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Maritz Poll® reveals what potential employees are looking for in a retail job and what retailers should do to improve employee retention.

In an industry notorious for high turnover and seasonal work, retailers are faced with the challenge of hiring and retaining an effective workforce. According to findings from a recent Maritz® Poll, retail employers can appeal to the unique desires of retail job seekers and satisfy the needs of current employees by doing something simple – listening to them.

What do they want?

Those seeking employment in retail want a fun job, with employee discounts and a clearly defined role. According to the Maritz Poll findings, of those looking for employment in the retail industry:

  • 91 percent want to look forward to coming to work;
  • 90 percent want the company to be a fun place to - 89 percent want the company to offer employee discounts on its products/services; and
  • 88 percent want to know exactly what is expected of them in their role.

Prospective retail employees are significantly more likely than those seeking employment in other industries to value the company’s perks and image.

  • 89 percent seeking retail jobs want the company to offer employee discounts on its products/services compared to 68 percent of those seeking employment in other industries;
  • 83 percent seeking retail jobs want flexible work hours versus 74 percent of those looking for - 66 percent of prospective retail employees want to work for a company with a great brand image in contrast to 53 percent of those seeking employment in other industries.

“Retailers should attempt to match their employment offerings with what the retail workforce is looking for,” said Gloria Park Bartolone, vice president of the Retail Research Group at Maritz Research. “During a time when retailers are cutting back on benefits to manage cost, they may be able to focus on items not related to salary, such as flexible hours and employee discounts, to maintain their appeal to employees.”

Now you’ve got them, how do you keep them?

Even when a sufficient workforce is in place, retailers need to continue to meet employees’ expectations to ensure job satisfaction and improved employee motivation and performance. Surprisingly, nearly 60 percent (58 percent) of the respondents who are currently retail employees are completely satisfied with their job. The findings from this Maritz Poll suggest that job expectations and clearly defined roles drive job satisfaction. More than 80 percent of respondents completely agree that they know exactly what is expected of them in their roles.

However, there is much room for improvement. Approximately one-third or more of the retail employees surveyed feel that they:

  • Are not satisfied with the way their organization communicates with them (38 percent);
  • Are not consistently recognized for their work performance in ways that are important to them (35 percent); and
  • Do not regularly receive feedback on how their work contributes to the success of their organization (32 percent).

“Clearly, retail managers can be doing a better job of communicating with their employees, which, in turn, will increase job satisfaction and employee retention,” said Bartolone. “Our research shows that one in three retail employees (34 percent) feel that their company does not genuinely listen to and care about its employees. This perception of retailers does not bode well for the employers as they enter the busy holiday season.”

And can you keep the thieves out?

Another area where retail employers need help is reducing theft by both customers and employees:

  • Nearly half (48 percent) of retail employees surveyed say that they have noticed customers stealing from their employer.
  • Nearly one in three (29 percent) say they have witnessed other employees stealing from their employer.

“Retailers need to proactively pursue options to counter this trend that is costing the industry billions,” said Bartolone. “Employees who are fully engaged and loyal to their employers will be less likely to steal and more likely to report theft or participate in other anti-theft programs.”

About Maritz Poll

Maritz® Poll is a national consumer opinion survey conducted periodically by Maritz Research. This recent online Maritz Poll surveyed 1003 randomly selected adults throughout the United States (500 currently employed in the retail industry and 503 currently seeking employment in retail or any other industry) about various workplace issues and evaluating employment opportunities.

About Maritz Research

As one of the world’s largest marketing research firms, Maritz Research, a unit of Maritz Inc., helps many of today’s most successful companies improve performance through a deep understanding of their customers, employees and channel partners. Founded in 1973, it offers a range of strategic and tactical solutions concentrating primarily in the automotive, financial services, hospitality, telecommunications, retail, workplace and technology industries. The company has achieved ISO 9001 registration, the international symbol of quality. It is a member of CASRO and official sponsor of the American Marketing Association. Based in St. Louis, Maritz Inc. provides market and customer research, communications, learning solutions, incentive initiatives, meetings and event management, rewards and recognition, travel management services and customer loyalty programs. Maritz has a presence in 42 countries, with key offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain. For more information, visit maritz.com.

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Katie Mannhard
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