Investing in employees

BY ARA Retail Institute
29 October 2019

How investing in them is investing into the development and success of your brand.

Many young people start their career in the retail industry. While a certain portion recognise the long-term potential of a retail career, most young people treat that first retail job as a transitional phase, providing enough income for study or travel before launching into their actual career.

Some retailers might not see the benefit of training employees with a short working span, but training is actually an essential long-term investment. The most motivated and enterprising employees will be attracted to jobs with training opportunities, and training also boosts the confidence and motivation of the less enterprising employees. As Richard Branson famously said: “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

One of the most important investments as a retail employer is training staff to provide exceptional customer service. The employees are brand ambassadors, so it is essential that they know how to present the brand professionally, and that they understand how to interact effectively with customers.

Strong communication starts with the employer and expectations should be outlined to employees, so they understand what message they are to deliver. Training can assist an employee to understand the customer perspective, and recognise the impact of their own speaking manner and approach.

Problem solving ability is closely linked to strong customers service skills. If a customer approaches a business with a problem, it is up to the employee to provide the solution.

Employees should be equipped with the necessary problem-solving skills and the background knowledge of the business to confidently suggest appropriate solutions for the customer’s problem.

If a new employee is struggling to stay on top of their designated tasks, some additional training might be required to help them streamline their efforts and stay organised. Often poor time management is a sign of not understanding the task at hand or the end result. Many new employees have come straight from school into the workforce.

At school, they were provided with a routine and deadlines for assignments, so there was very little multi-tasking involved. Working in retail can involve juggling a number of conflicting tasks – customer service, stock control, administrative work – and the work day will alternate between busy periods and quiet periods. With additional training, the employee will develop a stronger sense of purpose and greater efficiency.

Even the newest employee will benefit from understanding the basic operating structure of the business. The concepts of store revenue and profit, market trends and merchandising techniques can seem foreign to someone just out of school and earning money for the first time, but understanding these concepts will help develop a greater sense of ownership and purpose.

The employees are the eyes and ears of any business. They are the ones talking to customers, fielding complaints and observing the direct response to products and services. This means your employees have valuable information to share with the business, and their ideas or observations can assist in streamlining the daily operations.

Employers will benefit greatly from training an employee to undertake a leadership role, as the employee will provide valuable feedback and positive new suggestions. Best of all, they will be empowered to take initiative and to do the best possible job, because they know they have a voice in the running of the business.

As there are so many training platforms available, training does not have to be a drain on resources, and employees will respond to a platform that best suits their learning style. Besides practical on-the-job training, you can provide access to online training, instructor-led courses, seminars and mentoring or coaching.

Employee training is an excellent way to maintain the loyalty and enthusiasm of your team, while ensuring your customers receive the most efficient and effective service.

The Australian Retailers Association’s Retail Ready jobs program is a free employment solution service where we will advertise, screen and develop candidates based on your needs. Find out how we can help you by visiting www.retail.org.au/

The Australian Retailers Association’s Retail Institute is Australia’s leading provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, visit www.retailinstitute.org.au

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ARA Retail Institute

ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. The ARA Retail Institute is a Government Registered Training Organisation (RTO) making it fully qualified to offer retail education programs to ARA members and broader retail industry.

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