While the all-important consumer is the driving force for retailers’ decisions on developing operations, there would be no retail sector without hardworking and talented employees.

Focusing on consumers is undeniably critical but can also come at the cost of deprioritising the happiness of staff members. The consequence of this is rapid staff turnover, which leads to logistical and financial headaches for retailers.

Employee expectations are of equal importance to the consumer and must be taken into consideration based on the individual retailer. For example, younger job applicants may want to know that there are opportunities for progression within the company, and once talent is attracted, it must be retained.

Company support is more vital than ever, as retail staff are currently facing financial challenges affecting mental health rates across the sector.

Learning software provider New Leaf Technologies finds that onboarding and training programmes in the retail sector not only need to be effective in bringing new staff up to speed but must also be engaging and informative.

New Leaf Technologies managing director Mike Hanly said that with proper training, employees are furnished with skills and knowledge that can benefit their careers and personal growth.

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“Staff feel cared for and valued, which reduces the turnover rate and saves the business money in terms of recruitment costs. Personnel are also imbued with a sense of loyalty and commitment, making for a much happier workplace where people are more inclined to collaborate with their colleagues.”

What types of training should be offered to retail staff?

  • Product knowledge training: This focuses on providing retail employees with a deep understanding of the products they sell, including features, benefits and customer use cases.
  • Sales training: This equips retail employees with the skills they need to effectively sell products and services, including customer engagement, product positioning and objection handling.
  • Soft skills training: This relates to developing the interpersonal skills that are critical for success in retail.
  • Compliance training: This aims to ensure that retail employees understand and comply with relevant laws, regulations and policies, such as health and safety regulations and data privacy laws.
  • Management training: This covers topics such as leadership, team management and performance management.

Hanly says the key to it all is to make the learning experience as memorable and inspirational as possible.

Value-add holds huge appeal for new retail staff members, especially when it comes to ever-evolving digital learning systems. They will have read and heard a lot about the power of AI, for example, so any company offering it will naturally have their attention.

This means that retailers need to keep track of the latest technological advancements to “keep on top” of learning and development initiatives.

Hanly concluded: “Staff turnover and effective engagement strategies go hand in hand. Lose an employee’s interest and they will look for work elsewhere. So, make sure your e-learning programmes speak to their individual needs and skill levels to make them feel like they are a valued part of the team.”