The holiday season is undoubtedly the peak busy season and most crucial time of the year for most retailers. This time period gives retailers the opportunity to drive more sales and build relationships for long-term success. It also signifies the time to start hiring temporary seasonal retail workers to help take the pressure off of part-time and full-time staff.
All types of employees can be key drivers of retail productivity during the holidays–but only if they’re motivated to do well. Here are five ways to motivate your retail staff during the holidays:
1. Set clear expectations
Setting clear expectations for potential hires starts with crafting your perfect job description. Transparency is key during the holidays, no matter if you are filling a full-time or temporary job position. Do you need workers only on weekends, for extended store hours, or for overnight restocking shifts? These are all important considerations to include when writing your job descriptions. A compelling and well-written job description will help you make a successful retail hire.
It’s also important to remember not to rely solely on past retail experience when hiring for the holidays. While previous experience is a bonus, it shouldn’t be a requirement when hiring temporary employees. The vast majority of new hires will be able to learn the basics, as long as you give them the right communication, training, and feedback.
2. Plan ahead & staff based on historical sales data
Customer-facing retail employees can have a massive impact on overall productivity, so don’t make the mistake of undervaluing them or waiting too long to start filling your seasonal job openings. Planning ahead and starting the hiring process two to three months before peak season is crucial to retail staffing success. Creating a hiring plan and working backwards from when you’ll need the highest quantity of retail employees can give you peace of mind to not be short-staffed at an inopportune time.
Another big contributor to motivating retail staff is staffing for availability and overall scheduling flexibility. Some workers may have a set time schedule for when they can work or have picked up a second job and have limited availability to work traditional retail hours. Staffing for flexibility can help enable employee autonomy, letting people create their own schedules, find a solid work-life balance, and stay motivated.
On the other hand, understaffing can lead to poor customer service and a stressed staff, likely leading to a customer not returning and lower employee motivation. Creating a schedule that covers your retail store adequately during the holiday season and keeps your employees happy can be quite the balancing act, but it’s achievable when paying close attention to the historical sales data. Historical sales trends are the best indicators of labor needs. Pay attention to peak hours (and slow hours) to see where you need to increase or scale back staffing.
3. Prioritize clear communication & training
Great communication is essential to motivating retail staff. Having a regular check-in with your team helps you set priorities and hold everyone accountable. These check-ins can serve as a forum for your employees to voice questions or concerns, so you take their feedback and implement changes to help them do their jobs better.
Employees must also be well-trained. In order to be successful at any retail job, they need to be given the right information to do their jobs well—and enough information to make good decisions about their work and stay motivated. A well-executed training program, when successfully implemented, can lead to increased productivity and efficiency and lower hiring costs. When a retail employee feels confident, they are more motivated, more engaged, and less likely to quit.
4. Give employee incentives
Are you investing enough in your employees? Incentives can come in many forms, and the right options depend on your business and team. Here are some examples of motivational employee incentives.
- Free food – sometimes compliments and free pizza can be more rewarding than cash
- Scheduling flexibility and time-off
- Product discounts
- Opportunities for career development and professional growth
- Employee recognition and monetary awards
- Higher pay for less desirable shifts (especially during the holiday season)
5. Collect feedback & implement change
Communicating openly, honestly, and frequently to your retail staff will help maintain a structured environment that helps your employees perform, remain productive, and stay motivated.
One way to collect feedback is through an open-door policy for employees to talk, share ideas, and discuss concerns. As a retail manager or business owner, it’s your job to listen and address employee concerns and complaints before they make an employee or workplace toxic. Listening to employee complaints and keeping the employee informed about how you are addressing the complaint is a critical step to building a motivating work environment.