Retail has become one of the fastest growing industries in the economy. We are witnessing the expansion of modern shopping malls and the economy has become home to popular international retail brands such as Mango, Payless, Shoprite, etc. Additionally new local retail outlets are frequently springing up on our high streets and local areas. The industry is obviously providing employment for our huge numbers of school leavers, and opportunities for advancements for those who have already started a career in it. The newly opened shopping mall in Kumasi for instance has offered employment to hundreds of people in the city who hitherto would have remained jobless.
One may argue that working in retail is not viewed as an attractive career in Ghana, since it may not require high academic feats and has low remuneration, but I believe that would have been the thought some 10 or more years ago. It is gradually unfolding to be an attractive industry to work in and does offer opportunities in terms of career growth, especially in the formal sector retail, for young school leavers.
Much as the industry is thriving and offering promising career potential to a large chunk of young or otherwise unemployed people, the question still remains; how well do retail businesses cater for the people who work for them? Employees remain the lifeblood of every business, and without them your business cannot fulfil its mission or achieve the vision it has carved out for itself. How well you manage your people would generally tell on how efficient and productive they turn out to be. Whatever you put into your workforce would yield results for your business. As the saying goes, “garbage in, and garbage out” and again “Happy staff equals Happy customers”.
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Here are 3 areas that retailers should put into perspective in ensuring their people really matter to their businesses.
Believe in your People
Retail employees particularly matter to the business because they are the channels through which your products or services get to your customers. One may not need some huge academic qualifications to land a job in a retail outlet, but every employee has a unique contribution to make to promote the business. Believe in your people, trust in their intentions, and let their contributions count towards your decision making. The story is told of a driver of a retail outlet who offered a relevant suggestion as to how best products could be lifted from a main warehouse to the various outlets. He was instantly told to remain quiet as he was only “paid to drive and not to think”. The business faced significant challenges with stock deliveries to their outlets which affected sales. The manager who rudely commented on the driver’s suggestions had no option than to implement those same suggestions in order to cut losses.
You’re likely to save your businesses some huge losses and project a good image when you believe in your people, trust their intentions and make their contributions count towards decision making. Your people in turn become more confident and ready to give productive suggestions that would improve your lot.
Remember your people are your secret tool to business success. Whether you are embarking on a business development drive, re-defining your in-store outlook, or looking to create a wow experience for your customers you need your people to make that a reality for your business. Your people should never be disregarded and their contributions should never be belittled.
Create Opportunities for Employee Learning and Development
One of the reasons why retail may not be viewed as an attractive career is the lack of opportunities for advancements and development. Boost training of your people and provide career advancement opportunities to recruit and retain talented workers. One means to make your people feel a part of your business, a part of your team and a part of your success is to regularly train and develop their potential. The Container Store, a retail giant in the United States is actively working to change the perception of employment in retail. It is has adopted a strategy to heavily invest in staff training to attract and retain staff. The Store now invests in an average of 250 formal training hours per year for full time staff, which is way beyond the industry average of a mere eight hours per year (www.retailcustomerexperience.com).
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Locally, I have consulted for a retailer who has embraced the principle of people development, and is reaping the results of better productivity and a more committed workforce. The workforce has been trained in the areas of leadership and also in technical areas and the results are showing.
Do not merely reprimand staff in the presence of co-workers or customers. Training times should be appropriately scheduled, away from the shop floor and from customer demands. This gives your people space and opportunity to explore and ask questions without interruptions.
Implement a Fair and transparent Reward System
As you embrace the contributions of your people, they should be duly rewarded for their efforts. If you have proactive members in your team, don’t allow their efforts to go unappreciated. Implement a reward system that everybody is aware of. You can create a wall of fame that shows photos with descriptions of achievements for each top performing employee. You can also throw a simple “employee/s of the year” party to celebrate your star performers.
Sometimes a simple “Thank You” note would make an employee feel he/she is well appreciated. A little pat on the shoulder goes a long way. When you recognize good employees, you send out the message to your entire team that every member is worthwhile.
Workplace productivity increases when you believe in your employees, train and develop their potential and recognize and reward their contributions. Your people are motivated to put forth their best efforts.
Author: Amma is a Lead Consultant and trainer with M-DoZ Consulting. Kindly contact her on 0201196080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or contribution.