Blog Post
March 15, 2022

How can improving the employee experience help retain retail workers?

The retail industry has been hit hardest by resignation rates. Improving the employee experience is critical to retaining people and ensuring business continuity.

Table of Contents

As the Great Resignation continues to impact employers everywhere, the retail industry needs to fix their employment problems more than ever. The Washington Post reports that April 2021 was the sector’s largest one-month exodus in over 20 years, and the trend has only continued. Ceridian’s 2022 Pulse of Talent report surveyed more than 6,800 workers from around the globe, including 516 retail employees. Of these retail employees, 64% are a flight risk with 26% actively looking for a new role.

Forty-five percent of retail respondents looking for new roles are in search of higher compensation. This is higher than the percentage of all workers surveyed who said the same, but not unexpected, given the retail sector’s historically low wages.

Why retail workers are changing jobs

Good compensation is important, but it can’t be the only part of your employee value proposition that you re-evaluate.

When asked what would cause them to leave a job where they are well-paid, 47% of Pulse of Talent retail worker respondents said poor leadership, 41% noted lack of job security, and 38% said long hours. Only 8% of retail employee respondents said that nothing would cause them to leave a job where they are well-paid. Pay isn’t always enough to retain people in the long term, especially in today’s hot job market.

One of the biggest challenges the retail industry currently faces is turnover. Retailers like La Vie en Rose have thought strategically about how to retain talent long term.

“For la Vie en Rose, we really decided to put our culture at the forefront in order to retain people,” says Karine Turgeon, Human Resources Director. “The biggest difficulty in retail is being able to differentiate yourself from the competition. So, this is where the culture of the company becomes especially important.”

Pariselli points out that a happy employee is going to be more productive, more motivated, and have a greater desire to develop and grow within the company. “We need to really focus on giving a wow-factor experience to our candidates from the beginning of their hire all the way throughout their career with la Vie en Rose,” she says.

1. Offer flexibility to give more control

One of the main motivators for retail workers may surprise some employers. Thirty-five percent of Pulse of Talent retail employee respondents said they want more flexibility. Retail workers often face unpredictable schedules with little notice or control of when they work. Providing hourly associates with more agency through scheduling adds value to the employee experience.

Providing people with a sense of control helps them feel stable and cared for through unpredictable times. Over the past year, retailers like La Vie en Rose have faced some of the most challenging times they’ve ever experienced, and this ripple effect was felt deeply by the workforce as well.

Many retailers are turning to human capital management (HCM) technology, like Dayforce, to support their people and operations through these trying times. “Throughout the pandemic, communication was, I believe, at the core of everyone's either success or failure. I think our employees had a lot of expectations, and rightfully so, about information that we needed to give them. So, Dayforce was a really important tool in getting that information to them,” says Pariselli.

La Vie en Rose is taking steps to give their employees more control in their workday. A crucial step in the experience is to ensure they have seamless access to their information, schedules, and pay.

La Vie en Rose uses the Dayforce mobile app to allow employees to clock in and out, view their schedules, request time off, see their pay information, and communicate with their managers. “We're finding that most of our employees in stores don't have computers or laptops anymore, and they're able to do absolutely everything from their phone. So, having the Dayforce mobile app on their phone, with their schedule or with the ability to speak to their manager has been crucial,” says Pariselli. “It's really empowered them.”

Taking care of your people through change is important. Organizations have demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt quickly throughout the pandemic. In a rapidly changing world, people desire more flexibility to better plan their lives for caretaking, commuting, and creating a sense of work-life balance.

2. Add value with learning and development opportunities

Many employees are revaluating their careers and plans for the future. Thirty-six percent of our Pulse of Talent retail respondents said they are job searching because they don’t have opportunities for growth. Seeing a path forward is important in times of uncertainty and can motivate people to stay with a company longer.

Eighty-three percent of retail employee respondents think that their employers have all or some responsibility in employee skills development. Yet only 29% said that their employers are offering skills development training.

La Vie en Rose is also using development and internal promotion for improving employee retention. “Training our employees and making sure they're ready to take the next step in their career is really important. We want to make sure they’re empowered with all the tools and skills they need to access another position,” says Pariselli.

Addressing this gap is key for improving the employee experience. When employers invest in the growth of their employees, employees feel appreciated. Organizations can also develop a more skilled and engaged workforce with this reskilling strategy.

Only 44% of Pulse of Talent retail employee respondents agree somewhat or completely that someone in a position of authority at their organization is invested in their professional development. Improving the employee experience starts with more learning opportunities so employees feel valued.

3. Create a desirable work experience

Retail organizations must address that turnover is happening at record rates and create an employee retention strategy. A piece of good news for the industry: When asked in our Pulse of Talent survey why they aren’t seeking a new job, 57% of retail worker respondents said they like their work and 43% said they have good relationships with their colleagues.

What employees want doesn’t have to be a mystery. Retail organizations need to start offering flexible work and development opportunities to improve employee experience. This added value is critical for competing beyond pay for talent.

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