Most jewellery retail brands spend abundantly on commercial real-estate, store design and upkeep, the product and advertising. On top of these costs, jewellery inventory runs into crores. But, is enough attention being paid to employee retention? With alarmingly high employee-turnover rates among jewellery sales and store management staff, the answer is an obvious “no”! Of course, one must acknowledge that high employee turnover tends to be inherent to retail jobs.
Employee turnover comes with a lot of direct and indirect costs. Among them are the costs of acquiring and training replacement staff, the possibility of losing customers who had a personal relationship with a store manager or counter staff, low morale and increased workload among existing staff, etc. With fast paced growth of the jewellery retail sector, the threat of losing staff seems to be growing as well. It’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of what’s going wrong!
Some obvious reasons employees change jobs is better career prospects, better salaries, low job satisfaction or problems with immediate bosses or management at existing employment, etc. One factor unique to retail stores however, is job monotony.
The following are some imperative steps to overcome the issue of high employee turnaround with reference to the jewellery retail business:
1. Invest in Good People: Too many retail employees are first-jobbers. The reason companies prefer “freshers” is they can pay them less and there is a perception that a fresher can handle the job because it is simple. While it’s true that freshers may come at a lower salary handout, you will have to invest a lot more time training them, and they will naturally look to move on to an organisation that will give them a larger jump than your annual increment.Your sales staff is your direct point of contact with your customers. Ensure that you hire the right people and give them an attractive salary. Of course there’s nothing wrong with freshers, but ensure these are highly trainable and committed people, and pay them well. Look for people who are willing to stick to a retail role. Their personalities should be a fit for their responsibilities.
EmeraldJewellery Industry India Ltd is renowned for its employee retention.Speaking about the company’s hiring processes, K. Srinivasan once told GemAtlas, “Wegive everyone three months of intensive training before they begin work. We find that 20% leave after the training period. This is either on their accord or ours – Neither party is bound to stick together after training”.
2. Make the job profile interesting: Aside from a good salary, one must motivate sales employees by making their role interesting. For one, retail staff needs to be thoroughly trained about every aspect of the product, including all parts of the value-chain. This incites a passion for the product. They should be emotionally connected with the product as well as your company and its processes. Not only will this sort of training make employees capable of handling all kinds of questions from customers, they will transfer their passion onto customers. In such an environment, employees will also invariably spontaneously become involved with aspects other than just their direct role.
Retail staff can be an enormously powerful source of feedback from customers. Get them to talk to customers about their likes, dislikes, etc. Seeking feedback to put to use and letting retail staff contribute to decisions regarding price points, kinds of designs to manufacture and stock more of, etc, will do wonders for morale, job satisfaction and turnover reduction.
One can break monotony by encouraging the taking on of other responsibilities. If an employee is very creative, he/she can be assigned the task of visual merchandising. If another employee is good at social media in a small retail set up, he/she can be assigned the task of periodically presenting FB or Twitter campaign ideas to the marketing head. It would be worth the cost to even have an extra sales staff to enable this practice.
3. Help retail employees with their career development: Chalk out individual career paths for employees. A clear and fair career trajectory willkeep employees motivated, and they will be less likely to switch to another organisation. Even though you may know employees will not stay forever, helping them with their own career development will in fact keep them with you longer, because employees will look at you as an organisation to learn and gain from.
4. Offer performance incentives like bonuses, “employee of the month” honour, etc: Incentives or even basic acknowledgement of performanceare great for employee-morale. Regular performance appraisals help employees learn where they are falling short.
5. Inculcate teamwork: Encouraging teamwork helps develop bonds. This automatically reduces resignations.
6. Make employee retention a role of management: It’s time to takeemployee retention seriously! Like any self-fulfilling prophecy, if you believe that sales employees do and will just come and go, that’s exactly what will happen. Make employee retention a serious and accountable part of the job profile of your HR or management people. That means that if an employee wants to quit, you will try to understand why and see if you can rectify the grievance first. Exit interviews can help you learn from mistakes, even if you cannot manage to retain a particular employee. Keep lines of communication open at all times, so, management gets feelers for issues long before they get too big.
You have to invest time, money and energy in your retail staff. This includes in their job satisfaction and professional advancement. Treating employees equitably with regard to pay hikes, being approachable right up to topmost management and keeping the environment at work enjoyable will go a long way in helping with employee retention!
|- By GemAtlas Team|