5 Tips to Help Reduce Retail Employee Turnover and Train Your Staff to Be Successful


 Imagine this:

  1. You have an employee who has been with you for over 3 months make a policy or procedural mistake and when confronted about it, they respond by saying, “No one ever told me that?”
  2. During the training of a new employee,  you become interrupted and forget to come back and completely finish what you were covering at the time.
  3. You teach a new hire how to do a specific task and even have them verbally confirm that they understand how to do it.  Then when the task is performed you wonder if they were even in the same room as you when you taught them.
  4. You just hired a new employee and then within the first 3 months they up and quit for no apparent reason. If that wasn’t enough, then that person takes another job for less pay and with less opportunity.
Chances are you won’t have to try very hard to imagine, because like most retailers you probably encountered one of those situations within the past week.

Turnover is a silent killer

Many retailers face the dilemma of employee turnover, and while most are aware that turnover can be detrimental to their stores few retailers know exactly to what extent the damage can go, and even fewer know how to prevent it.
You spend precious time reviewing employment applications, calling back candidates to set up interviews, interviewing the candidates that actually show up for their interviews and then narrowing down the field until you finally decide on the best applicant. Then you spend more precious time and money training your most recent hire, only to have them quit. Meanwhile you’re unable to devote necessary time and attention to other crucial areas of the business. But instead of freeing yourself up to tackle those other areas, now you’re calling back some of the other applicants you interviewed previously only to find out they already took another job, and the cycle never seems to end.  Turnover causes your duties as an owner or manager to suffer, your other employees to suffer, your customer experience to suffer, and your profits to suffer, all while you are constantly training personnel.
The reality is that turnover in retail is high, and as long as you’re in the retail business, you’re also in the hiring business. While you could probably come up with dozens of reasons why people come and go, the truth is that there is really only one.

The single biggest reason for turnover in a retail store is the employee’s inability to feel or be successful.

And the single biggest reason employees are not successful goes back to how they were (or weren’t) trained. Often retailers don’t see the need for a formal training program. Unfortunately, the “I’ll teach it to you as we go,” and the “I’ll get to that when I have more time,” methods of training just don’t work. Not only are they ineffective, but they end up creating frustrated new employees who feel useless, and worn out managers who feel as though they are unable to accomplish anything as well.
The point is simple. You need a standard plan and routine for training new employees. Considering the number of details you need to inform or teach every new hire, how could you possibly be certain to cover everything without a consistent list or plan? You can’t, at least not effectively.
Developing a training checklist requires time and effort on your part. But once completed, you’ll continue to reap the benefits with every new employee you train. The list should be in writing so you can check items off as they are completed. Take every last detail into account: from reviewing each policy with the new employee, to training on selling techniques.
Use the following guidelines to develop a checklist that will give each employee the best possible chance of succeeding.

1. Use small steps when training

New employees want to do well, but often we bombard them with so much information in the first two days that they’re overwhelmed. When you learn to type, you are taught the use of only a few keys at a time, and you practice those before you move on to adding more keys. Likewise, new salespeople must be given a chance to practice some of the procedures as they go. For example, if you show a trainee how to process a simple transaction, let them practice processing those types of sales for the veteran salespeople. In doing so, you have incorporated the “show me” step for completing simple transactions into the training process. (“Show Me” is having employees show you they understand how to do something, rather than just nodding their heads and saying they understand.) Once your new employees are proficient with simple sales, you can then explain the procedure for complex or special transactions.

2.   Teach information in a logical order.

If your objective is to get this human being productive and on the floor as soon as possible, why waste valuable time during the first three days on trivial tasks that are not important? During the training process, it’s possible for the trainer to become as overwhelmed as the trainee. How do you know where to start? There is so much to teach that you can easily get stuck on one subject. For instance, suppose you decide to show someone how to do all things procedural. You end up showing them how to ring up every type of sale imaginable as well as how to check-in an order of merchandise properly. They may need to learn how to complete simple transactions immediately, but knowing how to check in an order could certainly wait a few days. You wouldn’t show someone how to close the sale before showing them how to open the sale, would you?

3. Make training continuous but not boring.

When you attended school, you were exposed to a variety of subjects each day. You studied math for an hour, then English, then biology, and so on. Sometimes you listened to lectures, then you did exercises, then you read. Can you imagine having to spend six hours a day listening only to biology lectures or six hours a day reading only from a biology textbook? Sounds boring, right? Well, if spent an inordinate amount of time on product knowledge in one sitting, wouldn’t they likely become bored? There is also less chance that they’d retain all of the information. Product knowledge pamphlets, videos or industry magazine articles could facilitate this type of learning and break up the monotony. Use all the teaching tools that are available to you.

4.   Help the new employee feel productive, even on the first day.

Adults are very apprehensive when learning something new. New hires may go home after their first day at work and feel very frightened about whether they will be able to succeed at this job. They need to feel that they have been productive and accomplished something. By giving them a chance to DO something instead of just learning all day, their confidence will be raised. They will come to work the next day with enthusiasm, not anxiety.

5.   Include the “show me” step in every phase of training.

The “show me” step can be accomplished in several different ways. Whether done by role-playing, having the new hire demonstrate a task while you observe, or quizzes, the result is still achieved. By building “show me” into onboarding, you’ll ensure it is always done.
Use these guidelines when developing your training list or plan. The time you spend now to prepare a training checklist will save a lot of time and money for you and the store in the future. Take the time to train employees right from the be­ginning and be done with it forever!