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Giada Pezzini | 28 June 2022

Is your retail staff unhappy and unproductive? Here’s how to fix it

Is your retail staff unhappy and unproductive? Here’s how to fix it

Any company that deals with customers knows that the quality of service is an important factor for success. No matter how good your products are, if your retail store employees are disengaged or unhelpful you risk losing a big chunk of your customer base. According to research by PwC, 32% of consumers will stop shopping with a brand they love after a single bad experience.

And when your customers leave, so do their friends and family – and perhaps a few more people too, if your unhappy customer decides to leave negative reviews on social media.

As an employer, there are many actions you can take to improve your employees’ levels of engagement and job satisfaction – and, as a consequence, their productivity and quality of service.

Here are some common problems that can destroy employees’ performance, with actions you can take to fix them.

Problem #1: You don’t have a clear set of rules

How are new staff members trained in your stores? Do you have clear processes and sets of rules available to new staff? Employees need to be told clearly what is expected of them, how to respond to common customer queries and situations, and how they should escalate issues if needed. And they need to have access to these rules of conduct, so they can always know how to act.

Providing this kind of training can be time consuming for a company, but it’s necessary. By knowing what is expected of them, staff members will feel more confident in their daily tasks. At the same time, you’ll ensure that customers receive a consistent, high-quality service.

Our tip: Many of the major retail brands, are now creating their own simple set of rules, easy to remember and easily adapted to most customer interactions, to ensure that all customers are treated with the attention and care they deserve. These can go from one line – Nordstrom’s “use good judgement in all situations” – to a full rulebook. Find what works best in your business so that all employees have the knowledge and skills to answer questions, solve issues, and delight customers. 

Problem #2: Employees don’t feel part of a team

Research shows that when people work in a group and feel connected to each other, they have more fun, are more engaged, and work harder. People who are part of strong teams have a common sense of purpose, rely on each other, and share responsibilities and achievements. The key is to create a connection that goes beyond day-to-day work: according to research from Gallup, employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.

Our tip: Build team spirit among staff members. A classic way to make people feel more connected are team-building activities. The ideal activities require cooperation, or have all members perform at the same time: think drumming together, singing, yoga or team sports. Synchronous activity has been proved to increase cooperation and team spirit. For teams working remotely, consider creating spaces for collaboration, as well as informal moments where team members can chat and find commonalities.

Problem #3: You don’t have an official communication channel

How often have you had to frantically call your employees to find a last-minute substitution? How often do you end up with too few (or too many) employees on the floor because requests for time off got lost or mixed up? Managing staffing by phone calls, messages and post-its is ineffective for management, which cannot properly control time registrations and budget, and for staff members, who never know what’s the final time schedule, and whether their requests have been accepted and accounted for. 

Our tip: The best workforce management systems include tools for clear, straightforward communication between staff and management. The staff management functionality in LS Centralincludes an Employee Portal where staff members can view upcoming shifts, comment on their hours, receive messages, accept or decline work requests, request to work certain days, ask for shift changes or time off, and see their manager’s responses to their requests. The system immediately alerts managers to any request that needs addressing.

Problem #4: You lack a positive working culture

How would you describe the atmosphere in your stores? Are employees smiling, helping each other, and joking together? Or are they complaining about management, overcritical, quick to take the credit for their colleagues’ work but ready to shift the blame when things go bad? When people work in a negative workplace they tend to absorb the atmosphere. Employees become unhappy, the hard-working ones leave, and once the word gets out, it becomes very hard to hire good staff. According to data from Gallup, when there is a positive company culture with highly engaged teams companies can realize 59% less staff turnover and 41% less absenteeism. 

Our tip: A strong, positive culture starts from the top. Management must set the example, and treat all employees with trust, respect, and gratitude – no matter their role in the organization, age, gender, or seniority level. A positive culture must also reward employees who contribute to the performance of the entire team, underlining the importance of honesty, collaboration and discipline.

Problem #5: You’re not making good use of employees’ strengths

Sometimes employees must perform tasks they don’t enjoy – that’s just part of the job. At the same time, you can often find the right person for each task; perhaps Laura, who is great with kids, should be moved to the children’s shoes section. Or perhaps it’s time to give Jon, who is very organized, responsibility for organizing the items you receive. The problem is that management is often guiltily unaware of their staff members’ skills and capacities, and therefore doesn’t take advantage and grow employees’ talents. 

Our tip: Your employees are more than just their current role. Take the time to get to know your staff: who they are, what they are good at and love to do, and what tasks they find hard or unpleasant. When you take a genuine interest in your employees you will build a better work relationship, and who knows – you might discover some untapped skills you can use on the job.


Happier workers are more productive – That's proven. If any of the factors outlined above are the cause of dissatisfaction and poor employee performance at your company, it’s time you take action. Contact us if you need help finding the right technology to improve quality of work in your company.

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