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How to reduce high turnover in retail: 8 strategies

How to reduce high turnover in retail: 8 strategies

Turnover rates in the retail industry are higher than in any other sector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, the average separation rate for retailers was 5% (compared to 3.9% in all other industries). New research finds an uptick in turnover across all retail industry positions, from in-store employees to distribution center workers to management.  

Retail employee turnover is getting higher every year, and employers need to address the issue head-on if they hope to survive. Fortunately, there are effective ways you can do it. Read on to learn our top ideas on how to reduce turnover in retail positions. 

Why is employee turnover high in retail?

There are multiple complex reasons why some retailers experience a seemingly revolving door of employees. Understanding the causes of high retail employee turnover rates can be crucial to learning how to overcome them. 

Here are the top culprits for why your retail turnover rate might be high:

  • Low pay: Low wages are linked to poor job satisfaction, a significant driver for high turnover. Many entry-level and retail positions offer minimum wage, which typically doesn’t meet cost-of-living needs, pushing retail employees to seek higher-paying roles in other industries.
  • No benefits: Beyond wages, a lack of benefits can be a big concern for retail employees. Many retailers can’t (or don’t) offer their part-time staff access to health insurance or retirement plans. Not having healthcare benefits can leave people vulnerable, especially during unplanned medical emergencies.
  • Inadequate training: Poor training can leave people feeling unprepared and overwhelmed at their jobs, increasing the chance they seek better opportunities where they feel more set up for success.
  • Poor management: Ineffective or bad leadership can contribute to job dissatisfaction, another contributor to high turnover rates.
  • Limited or no growth opportunities: Without growth and opportunity, employees can feel stuck in their roles and be motivated to look for better opportunities elsewhere.
  • Erratic and demanding schedules: The unpredictable and taxing schedules typical in retail can cause work-life imbalance and increase stress levels, which are factors in high turnover rates. 

8 Strategies to reduce employee turnover in retail

Having a high retail turnover rate can be (rightfully) concerning, but there are effective ways to reduce it. The following employee retention tactics can foster loyalty, improve job satisfaction, and improve retail employee engagement, keeping people wanting to stay with you longer.

1. Choose the right employees

A large part of learning how to reduce employee turnover in retail means understanding how to hire. 

Hiring the right people is the first step in reducing your turnover rate. Start by understanding and adequately explaining what you’re looking for in an employee. Too often, people don’t take the time to envision what they want from the people who work for them. Without that clarity, it can be difficult to set expectations. Once you have a clear picture of your needs, you can seek out specific people to fill individual roles.

2. Invest in training

A well-trained retail team will be more confident, perform better, and stay longer with your company. Remember that training isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it deal. 

Regular training programs focusing on customer service skills and product knowledge will ensure you have a top-notch team. This means people can rely on one another to improve customer satisfaction and overall job satisfaction.

3. Offer competitive wages

You know how much your competition pays their employees. Your staff does, too. People need good reasons to stay with you, and competitive pay is at the top of most employee’s lists. Don’t be afraid to pay people what they’re worth; the reputation you gain as a fair and accommodating employer will help you attract and retain talent.

4. Provide benefits

Even if you already offer your full-time employees standard health insurance plans or 401(k) contributions, you can still do more. Partnering with mental health platforms like Talkspace as part of your compensation package shows your commitment to the mental and emotional well-being of every employee who works for you. 

5. Maintain a positive work environment

A positive work environment is one where everyone feels valued and respected. Positive cultures can improve morale and boost productivity across the board, which means your people are happier at work and more likely to achieve more. When you have happy employees, you’re more likely to have higher employee retention rates.

6. Pave clear career paths for employees

Offering clear paths for advancement will do wonders for keeping employees on board with you. People who see opportunities for growth and advancement are more willing to stay in their roles as they strive to reach the next level.

7. Keep scheduling more consistent

While it can be difficult with the ever-changing needs and demands inherent with retail, try to keep sudden and unpredictable shift changes to a minimum. Part of the allure of working retail can be the flexibility in not having to work the traditional Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, but keeping schedules as stable as possible can help your employees balance work with their personal lives.

8. Encourage open communication

Open communication is critical in any industry. Encourage your retail team to feel confident and safe voicing their thoughts and concerns. Having an open-door policy helps build trust between leadership and employees. It can also prevent minor situations from snowballing into a major conflict, so you can reduce toxicity in the workplace, which can lead to reduced turnover. 

Combat turnover by investing in mental health support

If you’re wondering how to reduce employee turnover in retail, you should first acknowledge that retail jobs can be extremely stressful. 

Employees often face high-pressure environments, changing schedules, and rude or combative customer demands. It’s no wonder many of them begin to feel overwhelmed and want to quit. By investing in mental health support, you can address the issue of retail burnout and offer your employees access to help before they become so stressed they think about looking for another job.

Mental well-being plays a significant role in job satisfaction and loyalty to a company — so it makes sense that being supportive of your employees' mental health can help reduce retail turnover. As we’ve seen, offering mental health assistance and therapy for retail workers does much more than just improve emotional well-being in the workplace. 

Reach out today to learn how giving your employees access to Talkspace can boost morale and drastically reduce turnover across your company. Happier employees are worth it.

Sources:

  1. “Annual Average Total Separations Rates by Industry and Region, Not Seasonally Adjusted - 2023 M01 Results.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 8, 2023. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.t20.htm.  
  2. “Retail Employee Turnover on the Rise.” Korn Ferry, November 15, 2022. https://www.kornferry.com/about-us/press/retail-employee-turnover-on-the-rise

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