Contests and bonuses can inspire them but perks like product discounts and considerate scheduling also will show you value their contributions
It’s been a long summer and now we’re heading into what, for most mattress retailers, is the biggest selling period of the year — Labor Day weekend.
Unfortunately, for your team, it can feel like the emphasis is on “labor.” Here are some ideas that will help keep them eager and motivated to sell so you all can end the summer strong.
- Make scheduling simple. Retail schedules are notoriously tough. Don’t make them unpredictable or unfair, too. To the best of your ability, consider employees’ shift preferences and strive to accommodate them. It helps to use scheduling tools that are collaborative and transparent, recommends Retail Customer Experience, a retail-oriented website operated by Louisville, Kentucky-based Networld Media Group. “By letting associates share their shift preferences and volunteer for unfilled hours, retailers can boost morale and drive up retention,” the company says in a 2018 blog post.
- Help your staffers succeed. Store owners and managers should know their employees’ goals and help them to reach them, writes Chris Coopman for Business, a website offering advice, services and tools for small businesses. Coopman is a former sales associate and manager who now researches and teaches leadership behavior. “If their goal is to be a manager one day, then start grooming them for that,” he says. “Does it mean that they won’t be with you forever? Maybe. It also means that you are helping them succeed, and they will work harder for you because of it.” In fact, “employees thinking about leaving an organization often state that they feel stuck in their current role,” writes Lauren Ufford in a 2016 blog for Shopify, an e-commerce platform for retailers based in Ottawa, Canada. And they’ll leave to advance their careers. “So, give your employees a clear path to climb the proverbial ladder,” she says. “Have regular discussions about opportunities within your organization, make a sustained effort to promote internally and consider offering mentorship programs to pair up employees so they can learn new skills.”
- Perk people up. Discounts on sleep products and a nap room make perfect sense at a mattress retailer, but what more could you provide? Learn what other retailers in your market offer and ask your employees what would be most valuable to them. “Aside from helping you attract the best talent and differentiate yourself from all the noise, a great company culture helps you retain talent and increase productivity, as well,” Ufford says. “… Not every company is the same and can offer the same perks, but there are ways to increase employee engagement and well-being, big and small. From holiday get-togethers to employee of the month programs and team-building sporting events, there’s an infinite number of ways to reward your employees that work so hard.”
- Make money talk. We all work for money — when we do what we love without pay, it’s called volunteering or a hobby. There are several ways you can reward RSAs and other team members. For instance, during a training session before the big holiday weekend, do a lightning-round quiz to keep your team sharp and give out prizes. Now is also a good time to hold a sales contest, with the winner earning a nice cash bonus or other perk for posting good numbers during the Labor Day sales period.
To keep employees happy longer term, it might be time to consider boosting base pay. A number of states and municipalities have raised minimum wages above the federal rate of $7.25 an hour, and big retailers, including CVS, Costco and Target, have earned headlines for raising their own minimums. But Richard R. Shapiro, founder and president of The Center for Client Retention in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, notes that the wage gains aren’t being felt by midlevel workers and says brick-and-mortar retailers, in particular, need to offer competitive pay and reward the RSAs who are giving shoppers the in-store experiences that keep customers from buying online instead.
Can you increase the base pay or commission rates of RSAs and the base pay of managers? Can you swing bonuses for your top performers? Such increases could pay for themselves, in the long run.
“Regular raises and bonuses are an important way to keep your best employees happy and decrease the chance of them looking externally for more money,” Ufford says.