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Why most US frontline retail workers are considering quitting (and how to retain them)

59% of retail frontline workers in the United States considered quitting their jobs this year - how can retailers prevent a mass exodus?

Frontline retail workers in the US are struggling. 

The 2024 State of the Frontline Workforce - US Retail Report revealed that a staggering 59% of retail frontline workers have considered quitting their jobs in the past year. That’s a 22% increase compared to 2023. This is a clear warning sign that retailers could see a large number of employee departures this year if they don’t take the right steps to keep employees happy and engaged.  

Why are these workers considering quitting their jobs, and how can retailers prevent a mass exodus from happening? Let’s review the rest of the survey data, and some strategies for retail leadership. 

Why are frontline retail workers unhappy? 

This is a complex problem to solve - there’s no single issue that’s top of mind for retail workers.  Here are some of the main concerns that our research revealed: 

  1. Low compensation: Financial strain is pushing retail employees to their limits. With inflation and the cost of living surging, 48% of frontline workers cited low pay as the top reason for quitting their jobs. And, of the 85% who experience workplace stress, 36% attribute that stress directly to inadequate compensation. 

  2. Scheduling and staffing challenges: The retail work environment can require long hours and understaffed shifts. Flexibility in work schedules has emerged as a key factor in job satisfaction and retention among retail workers. Nearly a third (30%) of the workforce indicated that more adaptable scheduling could have prevented their departure. 

  3. Poor leadership and limited growth opportunities: A notable lack of supportive leadership has left many retail employees feeling undervalued and overlooked. Data from the report reveals a significant interest among retail employees in advancing their skills and professional positions. Of the 59% of retail workers who considered quitting, 20% attributed it to feeling undervalued and 12% attributed it to being unable to progress in their career. Offering pathways for career growth not only helps workers feel more accomplished but also benefits retailers by fostering a more knowledgeable and motivated staff. 

Strategies for retail leadership to retain frontline workers 

Here are some actionable strategies managers can employ to enhance satisfaction and boost retention among frontline retail workers. 

Improve pay structures and benefits

Retail workers have made it clear that compensation is a critical factor affecting their job satisfaction and loyalty. Here are a few ways retailers can address this concern: 

  • Competitive wages: Ensure that wages are competitive within the industry and localized retail markets. 

  • Performance bonuses: Implement performance-related bonuses to reward hard working employees. 

  • Benefits expansion: Consider unique benefits like store discounts, wellness programs, or flexible healthcare spending. 

Enhance leadership skills and employee recognition 

Effective leadership and recognition are pivotal to employee motivation and retention. Retail managers must focus on: 

  • Training for managers: Leadership training can equip managers with the skills to effectively lead, motivate and support their teams. 

  • Regular recognition: Implement recognition programs to highlight employee achievements, through monthly awards, shout-outs in team meetings, or features in company communications. 

  • Career development opportunities: Providing clear pathways for advancement within the company motivates employees and encourages them to build a long-term career within the organization, reducing turnover rate. 

Implement better scheduling and communication technology 

In today’s digital age, leveraging technology can significantly enhance operational efficiency and employee satisfaction. Retail leaders could benefit from the following tech implementations: 

  • Flexible scheduling tools: Scheduling software that allows employees to view and manage their schedules from a mobile app will give them more advanced notice of scheduling challenges, and more flexibility and control over their schedule.   

  • Enhanced communication platforms: Replace disparate communication methods and consolidate all communications into a single platform. This way, employees can easily access work schedules, announcements and other essential information without the clutter of numerous apps and tools. 

  • Feedback and engagement applications: Apps that offer real-time feedback and engagement analytics can help managers keep a pulse on team sentiment, identify issues early and address them proactively.  

By focusing on these strategies, retail managers can create a more attractive and supportive workplace for their frontline employees, reducing turnover rates and fostering a solid, committed workforce. 


With 22% more workers considering quitting this year compared to the previous one, retail businesses need to start investing in the well-being and satisfaction of frontline staff, which in turn, can boost overall productivity and profitability.  

Get access to all the survey data and additional insights here.


Read the report



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