At Work

5 Ways to Take Control of Your Retail Workforce

If you’re a retail manager, no matter how small your team is, you know how challenging it can be to create and maintain a flow in your store. Not only do you have to keep your customers happy, but you need to keep your staff members connected and working like a well oiled machine.

Here are five important tips you can use to create a team that supports each other and your business:

1. Create accountability

Although you might assign your retail staff to a specific department or position, when nobody’s keeping tabs on what they’re doing, it’s easy for them to get lazy and put off their responsibilities. This can especially be seen in department stores where shopping carts full of ‘gobacks’ are often left overnight for the morning crew to sort out.

When you create an accountability system for your team, you’re giving them the structure they need to complete their tasks on time. Retail employees need a goal to reach by the end of their shift, or they’re likely to do the bare minimum.

Accountability isn’t blame

Accountability doesn’t need to be full of blame and shame where you punish your employees for what they didn’t get done. The best accountability system works by setting measurable goals, and at the end of the day, you account for what was done and what wasn’t. When something doesn’t get done, you investigate why, committing to something new for the next day.

Creating accountability for your team helps you:

  • Get things done on time
  • Rework your systems if something isn’t working
  • Mitigate the potential for excuses and blame

2. Create a space for open communication

Many retail employees won’t speak up if something isn’t working because they’re afraid of getting fired. But they will talk to each other, and this can magnify feelings of hostility and frustration that have no outlet for resolution.

When you create an environment for your staff members to openly communicate with you without the fear of being punished, you not only eliminate the potential for drama between your employees, but you also create a platform for you to find resolution to problems you probably weren’t aware of.

A great way to create open communication is to attend a training course, like the communication course offered by Dale Carnegie. The better you are with your communication, the easier it will be to connect with your staff.

Encouraging open communication can help you:

  • Build trust among your staff
  • Create transparency between you and your staff
  • Uncover issues only your employees can see

3. Automate your scheduling

People who manage an office full of 9-5 staff members don’t experience the same types of scheduling conflicts that often occur in retail. In an office, when you’re missing a team member, it doesn’t put the whole show on hold like it can in retail.

No matter how great you are at working out a schedule that supports everyone’s varied availabilities, at some point, you’re going to end up with some gaps, overlaps, and other conflicts due to human error. You can avoid this by using automatic scheduling software like Deputy.

Automating the scheduling process frees up your time and helps you:

  • Eliminate accidental gaps and overlaps
  • Eliminate the need to remember everyone’s availability
  • Eliminate messy, unreadable shift changes scratched on paper schedules
  • Empower staff to make their own shift swaps

4. Support the strengths of your staff members

In retail, you need to consider the needs of your store first, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support the strengths of your staff by putting them in positions where they excel.

When you play to the strengths of your employees, they will:

  • Feel appreciated by you
  • Be motivated to do a good job
  • Let go of grumpiness
  • Give better customer service

5. Avoid scheduling abuse

Nearly everyone who has worked in retail knows what it’s like to work a late night closing shift, only to be required to show up again early in the morning with barely any sleep. They also know what it’s like to be called in on their day off to cover a shift for a chronically absent team member.

While it’s sometimes necessary to schedule unpleasant shifts and call people in, if you make it a habit, you may end up with a high turnover rate.

If you need to schedule someone back to back, it would be courteous to ask ahead of time if they wouldn’t mind working those shifts.

Making the effort to schedule fairly shows your employees:

  • You care about their health and well being
  • You want them to succeed
  • You’re not taking advantage of them
  • You value their contribution to the team

Communication is the key to connecting your team

You can create a connected team, regardless of what business you’re in, by using the right communication tools. By following these tips in your retail business, you’ll see improvement in your staff’s ability to get things done with less stress, all with a positive attitude.

0 Replies to “5 Ways to Take Control of Your Retail Workforce

  1. Great article. Running a retail business is not for the faint hearted. I’m CEO and Founder of a great scheduling, time and attendance and payroll tool for retailers called RosterElf ( and I find that rostering is one of the biggest challenges in terms of cost management and also finding available employees from what is often are large casual work pool.

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