At Maze, we believe that every member of the store teams in physical stores has an underlying potential, waiting to be fulfilled. Whether they succeed, often has to do with the working environment, and if the company knows how to manage and engage their employees.

The most successful retail chains have figured this out. They understand that engaged employees lead to great customer experiences, higher conversions, and turn ordinary customers into lifelong ambassadors.

But how do you get started?

We talked to our own Senior Partner Gøril Wold Wægger with over 18 years of sales and project experience in the information and technology industry, and 10 years in the hospitality and services sector.

The key when engaging retail workers

In Sweden, more than 220 000 people work in retail, and around 25% of them are between the ages of 16 and 24. In the UK, 3 million people are working in the retail sector, and 1 in 4 are aged between 16 and 29.

Something that every retail market has in common, is that only a low number are working full-time, which means a big part of your frontline staff only spend a few days every week at work.

– Oftentimes, they go to work, then they go home and think about anything other than their job. This means employers need to understand how to unlock their superpowers during the workday. Your work as a manager is to use strategies and tactics to engage your frontline staff the moment they arrive at work, Gøril says.

Many of these workers have also grown up in a world of social media where likes, notifications and comments are a part of their everyday life.

– You can have your opinions whether this is good or bad, but if this type of communication is something they’re used to, why should retail companies do any different? Every worker wants to do a good job, they want to contribute with their knowledge and have an impact. Your job is to use effective support systems to help them with that.

5 ways of unlocking staff superpowers

According to Gøril, there are 5 strategies every retailer should use to unlock the superpowers of their store teams.

1. Leverage customer feedback

– Use daily customer feedback and notifications as a way of empowering your employees. Have them be constantly reminded of ways to improve, and provide constructive feedback, collected from actual customers. They will find more meaning in their work and feel like they’re growing in their role.

2. Use kudos

– Kudos, or public recognition, is incredibly powerful. Every worker wants to feel seen, and providing kudos is an easy way to create that feeling. I suggest using positive feedback from customers as a way of recognising someone’s positive behaviour and showcase the following results.

3. Immediate recognition

– When a customer leaves positive feedback, your staff needs to hear about it straight away. This not only boosts their morale, but also shows others the direct impact of providing excellent service. They will get evidence that their behaviour is appreciated and will motivate them to continue doing a good job.

4. Constructive learning

– Critical feedback can be incredibly useful if you use it right. It should be used as a learning tool. This is a great way of understanding what needs to change and where more practice is needed. This will practically guarantee that your staff keep learning at the job, instead of the company wasting money on staff training that leads nowhere.

5. Gamification

– Gamifying your workplace is still underrated. It means using game design elements in non-game contexts, like work, to increase engagement and motivation. You can, for example, set goals or create challenges with the purpose of raising team spirit and enhancing the customer experience in your store. Make sure you focus more on behaviour instead of only focusing on numbers, because the KPI’s is a result of your frontline staff behavior!

Summary

As a retailer, you need to accept that maybe your frontline staff doesn’t spend every waking hour thinking about how to improve at work. However, if you do what you can to create a workplace that enhances engagement and fun, they’ll both improve faster and stay at the company longer. This is the best way of unlocking their true superpowers, get loyal customers and grow your retail chain to new heights.

– Remember, the goal is to create an environment where your frontline staff feels valued and empowered to deliver high quality service to customers every day, Gøril concludes