retail leadership

Thousands of Christmas casual staff are recruited every festive season to help retailers make the most of the busiest time of the year.

A friend of mine, Claire, recently secured a job with a large retailer. She was so excited to join the team and told me all about her training to get her ready to start in-store. The highlight of her induction was when the “Big boss” came and spoke to her group. She was inspired to hear about the brand’s story and the growth from the early days. They got treated to lunch and a whole afternoon of product knowledge and customer service training.

She couldn’t wait to get started.

Claire is now two weeks into her employment, and she was thrilled to learn that she is on top of the leader board when it comes to sales results. However, her manager has not taken the time to acknowledge her fantastic results. Being young and relatively inexperienced I wonder if her enthusiasm will be sustained. Is she more likely to revert to what’s required of her in the absence of recognition? I always say, “What gets rewarded gets done”.

“If you don’t show appreciation to those that deserve it, they’ll learn to stop doing the things you appreciated”

Over Christmas, part-time and casual staff will make up more than 70 per cent of your retail workforce, so having them excited and engaged makes good business sense. Research shows companies with high employee engagement are 22 per cent more profitable. A 2017 Gallup report found highly engaged workplaces enjoy a 41 per cent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 per cent increase in productivity.

Despite this, Christmas casuals are often treated merely as stopgaps. My research has heard stories of shifts cut at the last minute. Being asked to come in and cover a staff shortage with little or no notice. Being rostered on for a four-hour shift only to be sent home early or being given just a couple of shifts a week. They were being left short of an adequate income. They may not want to but feel they are forced to look for opportunities elsewhere, and the excitement they initially felt can wane quickly.

Will your Christmas casuals be customers and advocates of your brand?

The reality is that not all Christmas Casuals get retained at the end of the busy period. However, how they experience your brand will decide whether they will remain customers and advocates of your brand.

According to HubSpot, 69 per cent of employees say they would work harder if their employer appreciated them. It might seem obvious, but I often hear from casual workers who feel undervalued or like a ‘dollar per hour’ commodity.

Below are some questions that you mind find helpful to have strategies to engage your Christmas Casuals.

  1. How will you ensure they feel a sense of belonging?
  2. Can you ensure you have excellent communication channels with them?
  3. How can you gather valuable feedback about their experience?
  4. Can you find ways to help them transition from Christmas Casuals to part-time and full-time employees?
  5. How can you ensure you retain them as customers?

The more you can show genuine appreciation, support and care, your Christmas casuals will care more about your customers and results. They will embrace striving for sales targets together with you.

Retaining and engaging great employees is a core pillar of all my Leadership Programs.

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