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Retail Staff Turnover: The Biggest Headache! We Have the Solution.

Retail staff turnover has long been a daunting challenge for the industry.

It's not uncommon to find handmade signs slapped onto the shop front doors saying 'back in 20 minutes' because the solo worker needed to pop out for some food!

One of the busiest periods is the lunch hour - so how crazy is this?!

How many sales were missed during this period? £50? £500? Maybe multiply that over 5 days for a period of say 6 months. Painful and totally avoidable.

It's also not uncommon to see store teams overloaded with tasks, looking utterly exhausted and on the verge of a mental/physical burnout.

Average employee turnover rate in retail

The average retail turnover rate is 60.5% in the US and 57.3% in the UK, meaning that more than 1 in 2 members of staff will leave a company within the year.

When you compare it to the average turnover rate (15%), it makes you realise just how ridiculously HIGH it is for the retail sector.

Countless businesses have struggled to find a solution, often leading to a cycle of high turnover rates and diminished customer experiences.

However, in the pursuit of addressing this problem, it is time we set aside the dreaded resignation forecasts and embrace the power of excellent recruitment.

Retail recruitment is a very challenging role - not many people want to work evening, weekends

In an ideal world, recruit once, recruit right

Now, maybe you're reading this thinking 'well duh of course I want excellent recruitment' and that's a great start.

You will know, there are many pieces to this puzzle.

It's why big brands have large HR teams, it's like an expanding jigsaw!

Over the course of a long career we at The International Retail Academy have expedited a process so that you (the brand) can employ and develop talent faster than ever before.

Not only can we fill positions quickly, but we offer an unrivalled, never done before solution to help you retain that talent for longer!

By reimagining your approach to hiring, you can attract and retain top talent, ultimately paving the way for increased employee tenure and a thriving retail environment where your teams are not only working really well and delivering results, but they are happy to go the extra mile with you.

Unlike some of the scenes we are witnessing now with retail teams happy to leave their team in the dumps while they take another (fake) sick day!

Where is the camaraderie!?

Retail recruiters should be deeply screening candidates before putting them in-front of you

We have been on the other side. Kayleigh, our founder hired a recruitment agency in London many years ago in the hopes of finding an outstanding flagship manager

The retail recruiter put forward more than 10 supposed 'qualified' CV's

How many were suitable? 2...and then she met them for an interview

Candidate 1 was competent and motivated but wasn't sure how long she'd stay in London as her boyfriend lived in Leeds so she might move soon

Candidate 2 had a great CV but in real life his personality was too small to run a demanding store & team. He would have made an excellent Assistant Manager

Not all recruiters are this lazy of course. There must be a due process in place to serve your clients well

In retail, we all look for similar talents:

Commitment, endurance and passion. Which all boil down to a couple of things.

Value and beliefs

In todays world, people are being raised on social media.

Today, people value different things

Today, people believe anything if it looks good...!

Society is walking around, blind and lost.

Now, I know this article might be steering in an unexpected way, but I wanted to make sure that you can feel the angle from which this is coming from

The International Retail Academy understand deeply that to get the very best out of your employee, you must understand their values and beliefs

If we take a step back and look at all the times we have experienced a disagreement with a colleague or a falling out with a boss it's because of communication and not always the what but the how with the attached emotion.

"I didn't like how he said that to me"


"I hate the way she makes me feel"


"He didn't even listen, he's always so vague and it frustrates me"

Would you want for any of your team members to say, think or feel any of these sentences above?

If you're a reasonable person, my guess is no.

In fact, you want them to feel inspired by you, you want them to enjoy their roles and talk great things about the brand.

But you know that with the pace of retail, the demands of your role and life getting busier each day that sometimes, we drop the frickin' ball

Maybe we drop it too much

As leaders, it is our duty to mentor, coach and guide new fabulous team members

To make the good great

To inspire the great to be greater

And yet, work & life get in the way - meaning that fabulous new joiner quickly becomes disengaged, delivering ok performance and another role to replace in a year

We can do so much better than this, can't we?!

Many CEOs and store managers have come to this conclusion (which is based on beliefs): “if retail turnover is so high and will stay that way, there’s no point in investing in my staff. After all, most of them will leave!”

Well, that’s actually the easiest way to shoot yourself—and your store—in the foot.

Do you see how damaging this belief is?

So how can we overcome this challenge and recruit right, the first time?

1. Emphasize importance of Cultural Fit: Finding employees who align with your company's culture is like discovering the perfect pair of jeans—comfortable, stylish, and just the right fit.

Cultural fit goes beyond the typical qualifications and focuses more on shared values, work ethic, and enthusiasm for the brand.

By assessing candidates' compatibility with your company culture during the recruitment process, you're more likely to create a cohesive team that thrives in a positive work environment.

And that is a big win!

2. Embrace the Art of Personality Assessment: While skills and experience are undoubtedly important, it's equally crucial to evaluate a candidate's personality traits.

After all, a team composed entirely of introverts may not effectively engage customers, just as a group of extroverts might not excel at behind-the-scenes tasks.

By incorporating personality assessments into your recruitment process, you can create a balanced team that complements each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Not always possible for larger retailers but certainly a huge advantage for brands just starting to develop their own physical presence and building that brand culture.

3. Unleash the Power of Employer Branding: In today's competitive job market, attracting top talent requires more than just posting a job advert on LinkedIn and hoping for the best.

A strong employer brand can make all the difference.

Craft a compelling narrative that showcases your company's unique attributes, values, and opportunities for growth.

Brownie points if you're transparent here - not many are, so you can stand out!

Let potential employees know why they should choose your organisation over others. Put it out there, be honest, showcase existing team members on video talking about their roles.

The power of video is massive! Lean into that and be real about it.

Remember, a little employer branding can go a long way in capturing the attention of exceptional candidates.

4. Ditch the Traditional Interview Script: Interviews often feel like a scripted performance, with candidates providing rehearsed answers to predictable questions.

Even if I said it a million times, it is still not enough. An interview is a chance to talk with each other, it should be a conversation!

Break free from this standard outdated process by injecting some creativity into your interview process.

Actually make it enjoyable.

Engage candidates in situational role-plays or problem-solving exercises to assess their ability to think on their feet.

This not only adds a touch of excitement but also provides valuable insights into how candidates might handle real-life scenarios on the shop floor.

5. Nurture and Invest in Employee Development: Retail employees are often undervalued when it comes to professional development.

However, investing in their growth and skills not only benefits them but also contributes to employee retention.

Train teams properly and keep them engaged: organise team building workshops. After all, 94% of employees would stay much longer if a company simply invested in their learning and development!

Establish comprehensive training programs, mentorship opportunities, and clear career paths within your brand.

Foster an environment that encourages personal and professional growth, you'll soon have employees who are motivated to stay for the long haul.

It is very important to note that having regular 1:1's with no agenda helps to build rapport, trust and camaraderie amongst the team.

So if you are a retail store leader, always book in those 1:1 moments with everyone - including the part-time weekend staff!

Oh yes, those guys are super important! (Pssst, they could be the next Regional Director, CMO of VP, you just don't know the huge impact you can make on someone).

6. Prioritise Employee Engagement and Well-being: A burnt-out employee is more likely to seek greener pastures.

Therefore, it's essential to prioritise employee engagement and well-being.

Create a work environment that encourages open communication, recognises achievements, and a proper work-life balance.

I am seeing more brands offer Store Managers 4 day contracts now. 4 days!

A couple of years ago you would have to jump through layers of corporate bullsh!t only to be told no at the end of that process anyway.

It's no wonder why so many people want to get out of retail

One of our clients also offers parents the chance to do administrative work from home twice per week in order to pick their children up, not relying on after school care.

So, they will go to store from say 10am then leave at 3pm, get the children and do some online work later on.

If the job gets done, what are you so worried about? Flexibility and empathy matter.

The retail industry doesn't have to resign itself to high staff turnover rates.

The stories we tell ourselves around the boardrooms and inside of trade meetings are honestly utter rubbish. Some of our favourites include:

"All the students left last month" ....errrrr...but the T/O has been the same for 5 months....?!

"We just had a new store manager so he's clearing the decks of the dead wood"....sorry what? Why are we not handling this, he has one of the highest performing team in the region....!

"Everyone wants part-time, we just can't keep the FTE's" what is going to take to make that happen?

My brain turns to smush when I hear these shambolic excuses.

Can we please step back & really think about solving the issues and helping our managers to attract and retain top talent?

Businesses can transform their fortunes and build a team of passionate, committed, and long-lasting employees.

The success of a store is often measured by the sales turnover, the KPI's, the productivity, payroll expenditure and waaaaaay down the list the team turnover.

Look, I didn't make those rules, it's just how it is.

But we're not here to accept this standard practice - look, if your team turnover is out of control and continually high

It needs attention...because everything else on that 'success list' is never going to be great until you fix the people part!

Which is why at The International Retail Academy we have totally transformed retail recruitment.

There is nothing like this on the market today.

We are solving brands recruitment problems every single day and aim to transform the entire industry through our simplified process.

Lean in

Here is what we do...

We headhunt the guys and gals who are already getting excellent results - we headhunt the change makers and the middle Managers who aren't getting promoted because their long-standing SM isn't moving on.

We spend time with the 1-3 candidates we put forward to you, truly assessing the cultural fit, the values, the beliefs that will manifest into who they are in a real-life store.

The creme-de-la-creme?

We coach your successful candidate for the first 3 months of their role to help them navigate their new duty, form the best rapport with stakeholders, mentor them through the transition.

Almost like a co-pilot for your busy Area Manager.

That's right, every week, we have a coaching call with your brand new team member to help set them up for success in their role at your business

This is what retail recruitment looks like for 2023 and beyond

Enough with the spray and pray

Enough with the extortionate fees and crappy service

Enough with the square pegs in the round holes

Retail recruitment is about finding the best talent and helping them to succeed - at least, that is what we do with you as your partner

The first 100 days contribute to employees commitment and longevity so here at TIRA we not only headhunt the best, but we continue that journey with you during the most vulnerable time of the on-boarding.

I told you, there is nothing like this available because well...some recruiters are just putting feet in stores and charging upto 20% for that.

You and I know, your brand is treated as a big fat payday and because you're so desperate to keep the store open, you pay it.

I think it's horrendous, I really do.

The store teams deserve better

Your customers deserve better

Give us a call and let's tackle this once and for all

Here is how we work with our clients

  1. Deeply understand your needs. We would love to meet you in person, but if that's not possible, let's talk over a video meeting

  2. We source your talent and write the most accurate, engaging job description to attract the best talent

  3. We headhunt across EMEA, our database of candidates include outstanding operational store staff, to energised Assistant Managers right through to seasoned Retail Directors

  4. Following our internal processes, we will send you 1-3 candidates. You won't need any more - we save time and help you to get back to business

  5. We offer the candidate and assist in any negotiation of terms

  6. Once the candidate starts, we kick-off the 3-month coaching program

Are you ready to take your retail recruitment to the next level and partner with The International Retail Academy?

Contact us here and let's talk through your needs - we're looking forward to serving you!

Kayleigh & team TIRA

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