This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.

4 Simple Ways to Motivate Retail Staff

Building a Motivational Environment

Motivating staff in any environment can be tough, but the retail industry can be particularly challenging. The peaks and troughs in footfall can make it difficult to keep momentum, but the benefits of having happy employees are well documented.

Not only are they better at making sales, they are also more likely to stay in their job for longer and to take fewer sick days. As a retail manager, these are important benefits as they save money and time that can be spent re-working rotas and recruiting and training new staff.

Even looking beyond the bottom line, there are other great benefits to having motivated and happy staff.

Happy staff are more able to provide quality customer service and, with 9 out of 10 UK customers abandoning a purchase after receiving a worse service than they expected, it’s important to get it right.

With that in mind, here are four top tips to help you motivate your retail staff.


1. Break the Routine

Firstly, take a look at your team and decide what saps their motivation most.

Of course, you will need to bear in mind that it is likely to be different for different team members. It might be that when the footfall is slow, your employees slow down too. Alternatively, it may be that during peak times on a Saturday your staff are so busy that they become anxious and begin to work less effectively.

Think on this a little and then formulate a plan for small gestures that can help to boost your staff back up again. For example, it might be that busy Saturdays are the day that you take it in turns to provide cake for the team. Every Saturday, one member of staff could bring in some low-cost sweet treats to give your staff a little extra energy and a dose of team building at the same time. If your staff rota isn’t consistent enough for this, or you feel uncomfortable asking your employees if they would like to do this, consider asking for a small budget to do so during extremely busy periods.

Or if your team struggles when it’s quiet, why not use this as an opportunity for a fun ideas session? Each week pick an area of your shop that you would really like to focus on. For example, one week it could be your retail displays. Give your staff the challenge in the morning and ask them to give you their ideas in the afternoon. If you feel that a topic might be particularly challenging, then pair staff up so that they can bounce ideas off of each other. Where possible, you could ask staff to put their ideas into practice during the afternoon so that, even when footfall is slow, they have a project that they are working on. This will help to give staff a sense of purpose and will allow them to go home at the end of the day with something achieved.

2. Encourage Ideas

Regardless of whether you hold these ideas sessions or whether you choose another way, ensure that your employees’ ideas are listened to and that they’re given feedback on them.

Of course, not all ideas can be put into place as there can be too many plans going on at once, or sometimes, unfortunately, the idea may just not be suitable. But even if an idea cannot be used, offer feedback that shows your employee that you have given their thoughts genuine consideration.

In the cases where the idea is good but your team is already currently tackling several projects, consider setting a clear date for when you can start working on this new idea. Consider writing it in the staff room, perhaps on the staff rota during a quiet day when the employee who had the idea is in. But take care here to ensure that you have set a realistic date. If the project gets pushed back too many times this may have the opposite effect.

By taking employee ideas seriously, you make them feel more valued. In addition to supporting their ideas, you should also offer them opportunities to grow.

3.Offer Opportunities for Growth

It is easy for employees in many different industries to stagnate if they are not challenged. In addition to encouraging your staff to come up with ideas, also offer them opportunities to learn and grow.

It might be that one of your members of staff has a skill that is really valuable to your team. Encourage them to hold a 10-minute session with other members of staff where they talk about this skill and how it can be used. For example, it may be that one member of your team is particularly strong when it comes to visual merchandising. Why not ask them to share some of their favourite tips with their colleagues? This will simultaneously help them to feel valued and appreciated, while also strengthening your team.

If you have the resources available, it may be that you can send some of your staff on some training days. This isn’t accessible for everyone, but you may find that you can share useful learning blogs and information with them through a website like Skills You Need. There are also small things that you can do even in your own store. Ask employees what kinds of skills they’d like to learn. Motivated employees will probably have questions or want to learn something from you. For example, it might be that you have an employee who is interested in how the cashing up works or who is interested in supply chains and would like to understand how you choose which brands to stock. Schedule a time to go through it with them. You’ll benefit from having staff with extra skills and also from the opportunity to get to know your staff better.

If you want to, you can take this one step further by allowing employees to suggest projects that they would like to work on, and affording them a certain amount of time a week to do so. Google has a 20% time rule where employees are allowed to spend 20% of their time on a project that they believe will give benefit to Google. 20% may feel like quite a lot, but if you were to give an employee an hour a week to work on your retail displays or on new product suggestions for example, they would feel challenged and you would benefit from their time spent researching and developing.

4. Demonstrate That Motivated Employees Are Rewarded

Motivated people are dragged down by people who are unmotivated.

Of course, motivation can fluctuate from minute to minute, but when team members are consistently lazy, it can be very demoralising for motivated staff. It can be made worse when a motivated employee believes that their manager is unaware of the disparity between their own working style and that of others.

Some professionals go so far as to say that consistently de-motivated employees should be asked to leave. This may not always be the best option. But you should certainly consider making it clear that employees who work hard consistently are rewarded. Ensure that the measures are clear and that other team members can gain those rewards. If you set the bar too high, or in line with only one staff member’s skills, then you run the risk of your staff becoming disillusioned as they won’t believe that they’re capable of getting the reward.


Take Home Message

Essentially, to ensure that your staff are happy and motivated, make sure that they feel respected, valued and that they have opportunities to learn and take responsibility for projects that interest them.

About the Author


Ali Newton is the Marketing Executive for The Display Centre, where a team of creative experts provide store display equipment, including adult and child mannequins and bespoke items.

Ali combines her fine art and fashion qualifications with her market research experience and psychology degree to help retailers drive their sales.

TOP