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Your employees are vital to the success of your retail business, they are the front line to your customers. They work the tills, handle stock and deal with customer complaints, all with a smile on their face.

Keeping your workforce happy and motivated can be a challenge in itself. One way to do this is to empower your employees, by giving them more responsibility and making them feel a part of the business rather than just working in it.

We would like to share with you some ways you can empower and encourage your employees which will make them more effective in their roles, more productive and ultimately happier.

What Does Employee Empowerment Mean?

Empowering means loosening the reins of control and allowing staff to carry out their roles as they think best, giving them responsibility and autonomy to make their own decisions.

We know the thought of this might fill a lot of retail owners with dread. We are not saying let them run the business how they see fit, there still should be a level of management and expectations set. It’s letting your shop staff feel like they have a say in the day to day running of the business.

This will reinforce the fact that their opinion matters and is respected. Empowering your staff should promote accountability, create a better workplace culture and increase job satisfaction.

What Are the Benefits of Empowering Your Retail Employee?

A happy, passionate employee is a more productive employee. What is the impact of this on the business? Ultimately if someone enjoys their job, they are happier to go the extra mile and make more of an effort, this could be with customers and the level of service they provide.

It is easier and more cost effective to keep an employee than it is to train a new one because with each new employee there is a drop in productivity before they are fully trained. If an employee is content and happy in their role, they are less likely to leave and look for another job.

With the retail sector fighting many challenges, having loyal employees can be a massive factor for your business. They know your customer base, and this can be used to offer a better service.

It could also have a huge impact on you and the business, giving you an opportunity to take a step back and focus on the direction of the business. Having a team, you can trust and empower to help run the business gives you time to grow it. It might be difficult to let go at first, but this will get easier.

How to Empower Your Employees?

Now that you have come around to the idea of empowering your employees, it’s time to implement some changes. Below are a few suggestions on what you could start doing to empower your staff and encourage a better working environment.

1. Your Employees Are Human After All

Let your employees be human. One of the biggest reasons a customer returns to a shop or business is because of customer service. It’s the chance to be listened to and not having to deal with a robot. It’s always nice when a shop assistant takes a real interest in what you have to say, this is especially important if you rely on returning customers.

Another thing to remember is mistakes do happen. It’s important that lessons are learned when mistakes are made and shouldn’t be too heavily frowned upon if the impact on the business is minimal. Everyone is an individual, let them be and let their personality shine through.

Treat them like humans too, take a genuine interest in them and their lives. Treat all your employees with respect and dignity.

2. Listen to Your Employees

Your employees are on the shop floor daily, they may have noticed areas that could be improved or might have suggestions on how the business could be performing better.

Take the time to listen to your employees and importantly implement any ideas or solutions they may have. It will show them that you take their opinion seriously, which will make them feel like they are contributing towards the direction of the business and will ultimately make them more passionate about where they work.

Sometimes it can be hard to keep a focus on the day to day running of your business, especially if you are busy working on developing your business. Remember your employees are your eyes and ears.

3. Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

This one is quite simple really. When one of your employees or your team does a good job, then tell them. It won’t only make them feel good for doing a job well done but it is the recognition that will boost confidence and empower them to make better decisions moving forward.

If they make mistakes instead of reprimanding them, offer constructive feedback. This way they won’t be anxious about making mistakes in the first place but also be more aware not to make the same mistake again. Praise their efforts, even if these don’t quite turn out how you imagined and give them time and patience to grow their skills. Rome wasn’t built in a day!

It’s important to appreciate your employees because without them your job could be a lot harder. Recognise all your employee’s hard work whenever you can, but Friday 1 March gives a good reason to as its Employee Appreciation Day.

4. Keep Them in the Loop and Clued Up!

How are you going to empower your employees and expect them to feel passionate about the business if they have no idea what is going on?

It’s vital that you share your vision for the business with your team. Tell them why you started the business, what you want to achieve and the direction you want to go in.

Keep them up to date with changes in the business, no matter how small or insufficient, this will give them line of sight of any potential obstacles on the horizon and it will also show them that they are important enough to know. Sometimes they can provide a useful insight which can influence or change a plan you had but for the right reason.

Communicate clearly and regularly with your team, this way they are all on the same page and there is no hidden surprise if the worst happens. It’s worth having a stand-up meeting at the beginning of the day to quickly update everyone. There are many ways to do this and so you might want to try different ways which suit you and your team best.

5. Invest in Your Employees

A well-informed employee is an efficient employee, invest in time training them properly. Not only within the business but also with an external course or training, which could be to do with delivering better customer services or business management for retail.

This again will give them the added confidence and enthusiasm to perform their job to the best of their ability.

Give them structured goals and objectives to work towards, by giving them a purpose or a potential promotion will help motivate them and keep up moral across the business.

Not only are you investing in your team, but they are also investing in themselves and in return the business.

6. A Happy Workplace Is a Productive Workplace

Create a happy, positive working environment for your employees. Let them have fun, obviously within reason, retail should be a fun experience for your staff and shoppers. If your team feels able to have a laugh together then they will form stronger bonds with each other and actually enjoy going to work.

If you are looking to increase targets or sales of a certain product, you could offer your team incentives or mini competitions. For example, a shopping voucher could be rewarded when a target is hit.

Arrange team activities outside of the workplace, not only is this a great way of team bonding but it gives them the opportunity to relax outside of a working environment.

Be flexible. Allow your team to cover shifts and working hours between themselves as they may have commitments outside of work, such as doctors or childcare. It’s important to encourage the right work/ life balance as your employees will be willing to give more.

7. It Might Not Work for All Employees

This may not apply to all employees, but some people just prefer to go to work, do their job and go home. Whereas others prefer a list to work through but with some responsibility to deliver the task in the way they feel best.

Don’t get disheartened if your employees aren’t as passionate about your business as you are. At the end of the day, it is your business to them it’s more likely ‘just a job’ a method to pay the bills, have holidays etc. By giving them the opportunity to progress and by empowering, you might just see a new motivated workforce. A motivated workforce could result in better sales and newfound energy for your business.

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