Your business’s greatest asset isn’t warranty programs, logistics operations, or even merchandise; it’s your employees. It may sound a bit cliche, but employees are truly the backbone of any business, particularly in the retail sector. They are the ones on the frontline building rapport with customers, leading growth initiatives, and managing day-to-day operations.
Having great, knowledgeable employees can turn a happenstance window shopper into a repeat customer. However, on the flip side, one bad experience can ruin someone’s perception of your business. Retail is a sector built on trust, especially for big-ticket items such as laptops, TVs, and appliances. As a result, having a team full of slackers just won’t cut it.
Whether you’ve spent time in a dysfunctional work environment or just listened to friends vent about an unreasonable boss, we are all familiar with workplace horror stories. In fact, according to a poll conducted by Gallup, a whopping 51 percent of employees reported feeling “not engaged” with their jobs, while 17.5 percent said they were “actively disengaged.” Quickly adding the two aforementioned numbers reveals that over 68 percent of employees feel dissatisfied at work.
So, how do you ensure that your company culture is set by all-star employees instead of by people content with accomplishing the bare minimum? Renowned management consultant Peter Drucker presents the answer in his book Managing in Turbulent Times: “Productivity of work isn’t the responsibility of a worker yet of a manager.”
The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Business
If an employee feels disengaged, how can you –as a manager or business owner– expect them to invest themselves in their work? The answer is obvious: you can’t. Fortunately, the inverse of this dynamic is also true, and it’s backed by science.
Back in 2015, a study conducted by Francesca Gino, the Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, found “that small interventions that increase employees’ sense of psychological ownership of their jobs — like personalizing their offices with photos of their families or favorite posters, allowing them to choose their own work title, and giving them ownership of ideas, a team of people, or a product — can dramatically improve their sense of engagement in and happiness with their jobs, and their productivity as well.”
Ownership is a key aspect of employee engagement. Chances are high that your employees will put more effort into their tasks if they feel a sense of shared accomplishment in the business’s growth.
In an exclusive interview with Dealerscope, Matt Bernath, President of VITAL, a business development firm geared towards the CI space, shared that being transparent with employees is one of the best ways to instill a sense of ownership. “Understand your numbers and share them with the team. When the leaders understand the numbers and how to run the business profitably and share that with the team, it empowers them.”
He went on to say, “If you don’t manage the narrative, the team will create their own, and you can be sure it will not be the most positive. Employees want to share in the upside and look the other way when there is a downside. It is scary for many owners because they don’t understand the business well enough to teach it to their team. Fix that first, and you’ll be able to share openly with the team, and they will thank you for the business education and transparency.”
Employees, and people more generally, thrive in environments where they understand their responsibilities and how to execute them. Responsibility is nothing in a structureless ecosystem, and structure means nothing if no one takes responsibility for their work. An effective leader brings out the most in employees by properly delegating responsibility and instilling a clear chain of command.
Replacing Employees Is Costly
If the “Great Resignation” of the past two years has taught us anything as a Nation, it is that unsatisfied employees WILL quit if given the opportunity. In fact, the national quit rate, a statistic that has been tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) since 2000, reached an all-time high of 3 percent in December of 2021. The demonstrated willingness among the workforce to leave their current job in search of greener pastures means investing in your employees is more relevant than ever.
Moreover, taking the time and effort to invest in your employees will pay your business back in spades over the long run. Employee turnover is costly both to team morale and to your business’s bottom line. According to the Society for Human Resources Management, it costs an average of $4,129 per new hire, and that doesn’t even take into account the 8-12 weeks it typically takes to bring that new employee up to speed.