Physical stores are struggling in many markets, and the retail workforce could be a reason. Only 44% of retail employees polled in PwC’s 2023 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey said they find their job fulfilling.
Six percentage points less than respondents overall and nearly four points lower than the previous year. Retail workers are also less likely than others to think that many key skills—including critical thinking, collaboration, leadership, and digital aptitude—are important, and they’re less confident that their organizations will help them build those skills.
It’s understandable that retail companies may not want to invest heavily in upskilling their frontline store associates. Most retailers see significant turnover in those roles, and the time and cost to take workers off the floor for training and development may be too high if those workers won’t stick around. Yet that mindset could be making retailers’ problems worse.
A recent PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey found that retail customers’ top demand was more-informed store associates. And Retailers can’t consistently give shoppers better service and more personalized attention without attracting—and retaining—engaged, motivated, and skilled workers. Three moves can help them do that:
- Invest in training as a means of differentiating your company. When you spend the money to help employees learn and grow, you change the employee value proposition, boosting retention and becoming more attractive to potential hires. You also energise your current workforce to view their roles differently in shaping the customer experience.
- Make sure the training will stick. Long training sessions don’t work. Instead, invest in shorter and more accessible formats, like short videos and interactive media. Meet workers in places where they’re already consuming content. That increases the odds that your new ideas will make an impact.
- Model the level of engagement you want. It’s not plausible to ask employees to engage with customers if they’re not engaging with each other or their managers. Management teams need to foster stronger ties with and among frontline employees.
Retail employees are the public face of the companies they work for. Managers need to invest in those employees accordingly to foster a more fulfilled workforce, which in turn can yield the kind of in-store experience that retailers need to remain competitive in a challenging environment.