How to find and keep good employees is a topic sure to garner an impassioned response from any retailer who is posed the question. One thing is certain, there are no easy answers. From the discussions that I had with retailers on this topic one thing is very clear; the interview process is the most crucial step in hiring and retention process.
If you were to look back at good hires, I believe you would find that they all had impressive interviews and all seemed likely to adhere to company values and have a full understanding of the job being offered. Conversely, when shortcuts are taken during the interview process or circumvented in some other way, potential trouble often lurks ahead.
One retailer I spoke with insists on two to three interviews over multiple days with key management personnel. He strongly encourages all retailers to know the laws in your state and to get everything on the table by asking good questions. Understanding the job description and time commitment are essential components that must be covered and well documented. Keeping good records as part of the personnel file is a must including signed statements from the employee stating that they have read and understand all aspects of the job description. This particular merchant has an initial review after ninety days and annually thereafter. Do not skip the annual review!
With regard to experience, prior experience is obviously a plus and is of course essential for key positions such as buying and store management. He offers that older employees offer stability and work ethic, but that there may be health issues to deal with. “Big personality” is key! The employee must be able to relate well to others. People buy from people they like.
Another store owner I spoke with that enjoys low employee turnover emphasized that any potential employee must be able to relate and support the core values of the company. These values will vary based on the needs and overall mission statement of the company, but a list of five to ten key points that are central to the core of the organization should be adhered to. Obvious due diligence such as background checks, including criminal history and drug use, can also be helpful as well as references from previous employees. A potential employee at this retailer begins with a screening with the human relations department to make an initial determination if the applicant is a potential fit for the opportunity available. From there the applicant would interview the general manger and finally the department manager. Throughout the process all interviews center around compliance with the core values. Any deviations or doubts from any interviewer can squelch the deal. Since most hires come from referrals from current employees, they already know the organization and already want to work there.
Living by the saying that "if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys", this retailer chooses to pay a generous commission which is adjustable annually due to performance. Store managers also use a weekly checklist for each employee designed to make sure that the salesperson is focused on doing the right thing and offering superb customer service. A perfect score for a month ends will earn the employee a bonus in addition to other incentives and spiffs that may be offered at management discretion.
Most retailers agree that any deviations from what historically is proven to work is probably not going to end well. Don’t shortcut the interview process, don’t make any quick decisions and pass if there are any doubts. There are no guarantees but decent pay, including the potential for incentives and bonuses coupled with an enjoyable work environment and good chemistry with your fellow associates goes a long way toward finding and keeping good employees.