Good Job Hunting

Jan 14, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A new survey from, Trends in Retail, says forty-six percent of retail workers plan on looking for a new job this year. The common complaints of low pay, unsatisfying work environment and lack of a direct career path were given for the high numbers of workers in search of greener pastures.

“’s research shows that on average, close to 20 percent of retail employees work for ten or more companies throughout their careers,” said Bob Montgomery, chief executive officer of in a released statement.

“With the economy in a recovery phase and job prospects improving, nearly half of retail workers will be on the hunt for better job opportunities in 2004. This means retailers will need to rethink strategies to attract and retain those top performers who will provide great customer service and increase sales.”

Over the past several years, as the economy slowed and competition intensified, many employed in retail complained about having to take on the work of others. Forty-two percent in the survey said workloads were too heavy and 51 percent said they felt stressed on the job.

The stress of working at retail isn’t just about what happens in the store. Many say the demands put on them working nights, weekends and holidays has adversely affected their personal lives. One in three respondents said they were unhappy about their ability to strike a balance between work and their personal lives.

Bob Montgomery says there are a number of steps retailers can take to do a better job of retaining employees.

  1. Provide competitive compensation and benefits.

  2. Increase the focus on employee training, education and certification.

  3. Define career development opportunities with supervisors and employees meeting on a frequent basis to discuss objectives for the near and distant future.

  4. Draw attention to exceptional performance with robust employee recognition programs.

  5. Keep up an on-going dialogue with staff to identify workplace issues and to create a culture of employees focused on a common goal.

Moderator’s Comment: Why do retailers, knowing the turnover reality, not focus more on training and career path counseling with employees?

Trader Joe’s has an employee development program worth emulating.

Full and part-time crew members are trained in every aspect of the store and duties change, not only from day to day, but often several times over the course
of a single shift. Some times it’s a bit chaotic but rarely is it boring.

The store captain, first mate and other full-time members of the crew meet regularly with part-timers on a formal and informal basis to gauge job satisfaction
and discuss career options.

Part-timers are given all the responsibility they demonstrate they are able to handle. Stores will often put valued part-timers in charge of ordering product
from the company’s warehouse.

Those who are chosen by the company to work full-time have a formal program that allows them to advance based on merit.

Trader Joe’s continually reinforces that its growth and that of its employees comes down to one thing – customer service. The result is a culture of
service others would do well to emulate.
Anderson – Moderator

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