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Winning the war for talent: The most important driver of employee retention

When sign-on bonuses aren’t enough and short-term fixes don’t address the root cause, companies need to find better solutions to increase retention and develop operational agility.

As one of the nation’s largest private employers, the retail industry supports nearly 52 million working Americans. It is also an industry that faces some of the highest rates of turnover—an issue that lately, has been attributed to the pandemic but is actually a long-standing problem. And as we head into further uncertainty with rising inflation and a recession looming in the distance, many organizations have resorted to knee-jerk, reaction-like solutions to address the retention issue. These short-term actions will not produce long-term results.

In our most recent WFM show, Tristan Rogers (CEO and Founder of Concrete Platform) shared strategic steps organizations can take to increase retention, operational agility, and his views on why organizations shouldn’t overlook their employees. 


Bonuses don’t keep employees from leaving

To attract and retain employees, employers often offer sign-on bonuses, referral bonuses, increased starting pay, and even offering free college tuition. But these efforts don’t increase employee retention. Instead, workers may only stay long enough to receive their bonuses and move on shortly afterward. So what are companies overlooking that could make employees stay? 

The key is workers need to feel connected to their jobs. Or better yet, they need to become “information workers”, meaning they need to have an understanding of how their role contributes to the success of the organization, why it’s necessary, and be given feedback on their performance. In 2018, Concrete Platform surveyed retail workers in New York and London and found that the top two reasons employees left retail, were a lack of education and input into the work they felt needed to be done. Essentially, these workers didn’t have certainty within their roles and didn’t have much opportunity to grow, resulting in their desire to leave their jobs. 


Engaged employees equal better customer experience 

Nearly $20 billion a year is spent on recruitment and training but this doesn’t factor in the cost of having an undereducated and poorly invested employee, ultimately costing employers even more. Organizations need to consider that the storefront is their main battleground with two essential skirmishes to be won. The first is getting their workers fully connected to their role, and the second is creating a better customer experience through these more engaged employees. 

To do this, it’s up to the head offices to create a connection with store associates by leveraging the right tech to improve how information is shared, how tasks are delegated, and when tasks are completed. It is also their role to understand how creating the right culture and utilizing an employee's enthusiasm for the brand directly translates into a positive customer experience. 


The science of retail 

For the store experience to run seamlessly, retailers need to develop a keen sense of where the gaps are in communication and put processes in place that are scalable and sustainable. This requires rethinking how to create more operational coverage and agility. 

Some ways of doing this include using tools that help leadership teams measure and track achievement and remain compliant. Or using services that enable employers to communicate with all their locations and staff through in-app messaging platforms. Which becomes even more essential as younger generations begin to enter the workforce. 

Overall, there are a lot of opportunities for organizations to recapture the attention of their employees and, as a result, increase their bottom line. However, it has to be done methodically and with a long-term strategy in mind because to keep their employees and survive, organizations must become more human-centric. If ignored, employers will continue to struggle with retention issues. 


Get the full replay of our WFM show for even more insight into how you can start winning in the war for talent.

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