Retail Training Realities: Communication is Everything

While retailers deal with unique issues based on their individual businesses, they all share one, common challenge: communicating with and training retail employees. Or lack thereof. No matter the sector or industry, products sold or services provided, every retailer struggles with providing retail associates with consistent and timely information across the organization.

How often have you stood in line while a cashier requests the help of another cashier about a particular product or procedure? How much time have you spent trying to get the right answer from a retail associate who has been on the job for less than a month? It’s frustrating and with today’s endless shopping options, there is no reason to return.

It comes down to communication. Employees remembering and more importantly applying what they need to know to do their jobs well. It’s tough for retailers. They are dealing with difficult conditions when attempting to keep their employees informed, engaged and motivated to learn. Here are just a few realities that retailers must contend with on top of administering retail training:

  1. High Turnover – According to the Bureau of Labor, the employee quit rate in retail was 26.4% in 2011. Add to this the number of layoffs and discharges, and the only workforce constant retailers see is change.
  2. Hourly Paid Workers – The average retail associate makes a salary that is 61% lower than average salaries for all job postings nationwide. Many are part-time and often hold down another job, attend school or have other obligations. With too many balls up in the air motivation and engagement in retail associates are scarce.
  3. Cost – Whether it’s new hire training or refresher courses, one thing is certain: traditional training methods are expensive when considering the cost of delivery and the impact of pulling retail employees off the sales floor.

In a recent survey on job dissatisfaction, employees cited “lack of communication” as one of the things they least liked about their their job. If an employee doesn’t know what is expected of them, what their role is or more importantly how it affects the company they are likely to question their effectiveness. When this critical disconnect happens, employee performance and engagement drop dramatically. Employees are quitting, theft is growing and at the end of the day, retailers are losing money.

While most retailers implement some sort of employee communication program, they are missing one key factor – communication should be an ongoing process, not a one-time static event. It must also be engaging, fun and able to meet the demands of a diverse workforce. Traditional retail training is letting employees down, so fresh, new eLearning solutions are starting to emerge that incorporate gaming, involve social elements and are personalized for each employee. These next generation eLearning solutions are the answer to increased engagement of next generation retail learners. In the words of communication theory pioneer Marshall McLuhan: The medium is the message.

why do employees forget

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