With Employee Trust in Senior Management at a New Low Even in Jobs in Fashion, It’s Time to Start Listening to Your People

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Retail Choice event highlighted the vital importance of employee engagement and how the simple act of listening to your employees can aid your profitability.

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A recent RetailChoice.com event highlighted the vital importance of employee engagement and how the simple act of listening to your employees can aid your profitability.

The event, at the Charlotte Street Hotel in London, was attended by 50 retail employers from across the sector including White Stuff, Hobbs, QVC, Tesco, Sports Directandwas facilitated by RetailChoice.com Sales Director Neil Brodie. As many industries were represented, the focus was not solely on fashion jobs.RetailChoice.com handles multiple industries and all levels of retail roles.

Speaker Nick Howard, Director and European Practice Chair, Employee Engagement from Edelman, (the world’s largest PR firm who aim to help brands form relationships and effectively engage)outlined how critical it is that employers embrace the importance of employee engagement: “A focus on employee engagement is more important than ever because trust in senior members of organisations has dropped to 43% (Edelman Trust Barometer 2013)”. For Nick, the key simple engagement principles are: “Engage, explain, act.”

Employee Engagement expert Esther O’Halloran, director of EOH Business Solutions also spoke at the event, asserting that employee engagement has a direct impact on customer experience and brand loyalty. She challenged the employers in the room: “Lead by example and drive the engaged proposition throughout the business. Build an environment where people are not afraid to talk, where they are allowed to be themselves. Do your staff tell you what they really think? Do they trust you?” Staff working in fashion jobs will be looking to senior staff to lead by example.

Speaking from the perspective of the retail sector, Victoria Hodges, People and Culture Director of White Stuff described how communication sits at the heart of the White Stuff business: “We listen. Then we put a lot of effort into communicating the results, sharing them and acting on them. Our mantra on communication is lots of it, informally and two way.”

Victoria strongly linked successful employee engagement with customer engagement in the brand, explaining how staff who are reached out to then go on to reach out to the customer, in a virtuous circle. An important part of the process has been to almost turna traditional management approach on its head: “A great leader is there to work for their people and not the other way round”.

White Stuff has been listed for 5 consecutive years in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to work for. Fashion jobs on RetailChoice.com do make up a larger proportion of the available vacancies, making the White Stuff’s achievement even more striking within the competitive landscape.

For the retail employers at the event the message was clear; engaged employees mean engaged customers, lower recruitment and retention costs and higher profits, but only for those employers who are prepared to set employee engagement processes at the heart of their business and truly listen to their people.

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Jason Meininger
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