Is appreciation the best gift retailers can give workers this Christmas?

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Dec 12, 2016
Tom Ryan

According to a survey of small and medium-sized business owners (SMBs), 61 percent are celebrating the holiday season as a way to thank employees.

More than half (54 percent) planned to purchase holiday gifts for co-workers and employees, and 50 percent also planned to host formal or informal gift exchanges. Forty-eight percent planned to host parties for their office during this holiday season. The survey of nearly 2,900 SMBs was conducted from July to September,

While hosting parties and Secret Santa gift exchanges seem appropriate for retailer or vendor headquarters, the events aren’t likely to be seen on selling floors. The biggest reason is that stores are too busy during the holiday period.

The fact that many in-store workers are temps is also a factor. The same survey found that nearly one-in-three SMBs (30 percent) indicated they could benefit from hiring temporary employees during the holidays. Of those, 87 percent planned to hire temporary employees, with the majority (37 percent) planning to hire six to 10 seasonal workers.

Office Depot advised hiring seasonal staff to not only help with increased business needs but to allow full-time employees to take time off during the holidays. Office Depot wrote in a release, “Only one-in-four SMBs (27 percent) plan to work during the holidays, which shows that a majority of small business owners understand the benefit of taking a step back to reorganize schedules and prioritize family time.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What are the best ways for retailers to show appreciation for valued frontline employees during the busy holiday season? What common mistakes do employers make this time of year when attempting to show their appreciation to workers?

Braintrust
"Retailers can show appreciation by being there working alongside their staff as much as possible. "
"...paid time off and a living wage? I know that’s out of vogue at the moment, but “Employee of the Month” or holiday grab bags just don’t cut it..."
"Gift exchanges and office parties may have some benefits but carry the risk of backfiring...Save the party for a mid-winter recap of holiday sales."

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8 Comments on "Is appreciation the best gift retailers can give workers this Christmas?"

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Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust

Retailers can show appreciation by being there working alongside their staff as much as possible. By showing you’re invested in your business, employees will feel much more appreciated and motivated. Time off goes a long way but isn’t always possible. Buying lunch for your team on busy days, especially if you are not there, shows that you’re still thinking about them and care about them.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
BrainTrust

Appreciation is best expressed in all human relations by listening. Being on the front lines means that employees have the best vantage point to know how to make things better for customers, the associate and the brand. Tangible expressions of thanks (such as gift cards or bonuses), recognition for performance (awards) and the party (which is also a team-building exercise) are useful, but being able to provide input is the frosting on the cake.

Steve Montgomery
BrainTrust

One of the best ways is leading by example. That include working the floor, waiting on customers, etc. This should not be a token couple of hours but a few full shifts if possible.

Depending on the size of the team, etc., it may include working a shift so that a working mom can have time to do her shopping. Not only does it show your appreciation for them, but keeps management in touch with the realities of the job.

One of the worst things anyone can do is to host a party (office or otherwise) where the spouses or significant others are not invited.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

How about paid time off and a living wage? I know that’s a bit out of vogue at the moment, but “Employee of the Month” or holiday grab bags just don’t cut it the way actually helping them stay financially afloat does.

Al McClain
Staff

Time off for store-level employees at most retailers around the holidays, which are typically the busiest time of the year, is not realistic. Having a decent lunch brought in for associates is great, as are gift cards, bonuses, etc. Having supervisors work alongside associates is a must. Temps can help, but sometimes they are not trained at all or only minimally so, so they actually get in the way. Holiday parties can be fun, if the booze is controlled, but retailers often have them after the holidays, after the return rush is over. Most important of all is having the bosses say thank you for the extra effort put in during the year and during the rush.

Karen S. Herman
BrainTrust

I’m in agreement with Al’s comments and believe that recognition for a job well done goes a long way in motivating seasonal front-line employees. Gift exchanges and office parties may have some benefits but carry the risk of backfiring. Best to keep the sales floor humming with warm words of recognition, and for added appreciation, a small gift of an item or an experience to be enjoyed individually by each employee, creates a lasting memory. Save the party for a mid-winter recap of holiday sales.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

As a store manager in the ’80s, I always tried to spend the vast majority of my time on the sales floor, leading by example. I would try to acknowledge staff for helping customers in a proactive manner. Just talking with them, and noticing their good work is so simple and underutilized.

Jeff Sward
Guest

I was a department store manager in the ’80s and there is no question that time on the floor was important. But it was important 52 weeks of the year, not just the couple of weeks during the holidays. What was really appreciated was the planning that went into ensuring crisp, efficient execution during peak traffic periods. Soliciting employee input based on prior year lessons learned. And that planning took place in the spring and summer. It seemed like drudgery at the time, but it was great to be able to thank employees in December for their efforts during the prior many months in making everybody’s life a little easier during the holidays. Turns out team building is a 12 month a year process.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Retailers can show appreciation by being there working alongside their staff as much as possible. "
"...paid time off and a living wage? I know that’s out of vogue at the moment, but “Employee of the Month” or holiday grab bags just don’t cut it..."
"Gift exchanges and office parties may have some benefits but carry the risk of backfiring...Save the party for a mid-winter recap of holiday sales."

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