Modern Training

Unlock your grocery retention strategy by leaning into upskilling

Posted on: September 15, 2023Updated on: April 17, 2024By: Maliyah Bernard

As staffing constraints continue, grocery leaders are struggling to shift associates’ mindsets around the long-term viability of a career in the industry—and their labor productivity and retention rates are suffering as a result. 

Leaders need convincing, too. Historically high turnover rates in grocery have some grocers and other CPG brands feeling hesitant to invest in developing employee skills out of fear of wasting time and money on those who will quickly leave.

So how can grocers show-not-tell these employees that they have a real future in the industry without wasting precious budget? It starts with upfront and ongoing investment in associate skill development so they can learn and grow on the job and find a meaningful career path, even amid the industry’s rapid pace of change.

Axonify Grocery Associates Upskilling for Retention

Time’s ticking to develop skilled associates

If your organization has traditionally deprioritized associate development (purposefully or as an unintentional byproduct of limited time, access to or enthusiasm for training), it’s time for that attitude to change. By 2025, the World Economic Forum reports that 50% of all employees will need reskilling. This is undoubtedly true in grocery as pressure for associates to hone their social and technological skills is growing

Upskilling employees is about more than simply teaching them something new—it allows your teams to stay competitive, agile and ready to deliver exceptional shopper experiences by encouraging and enabling them to learn and grow continually. It gives them everything they need to know about how you expect them to serve your customers and support their colleagues (and your business initiatives). They also get to see the parts of the job outside of a paycheck that benefit them.

Investing in your associates’ skills is vital to retaining a productive grocery workforce. In fact, our recent research found adequate training and upskilling among the top three contributors to frontline happiness and success at work. Training and upskilling also help build long-term relationships, especially with hard-to-replace top performers and also provide a steady stream of upward growth to support managers. Win-win.

What skills do they want (and need)?

Tom Rudar, Talent Manager at Heinen’s Grocery Store, summed up the employee perspective best on an episode of ITK: “People don’t want to do the same thing every day anymore.”

Grocery associates want to try and learn new things and be productive members of the team—especially during labor shortages when there are so many gaps to fill. 43% say adequate training and upskilling are among the top drivers of success and happiness at work, but 31% still aren’t given access to the types of development that could improve satisfaction and loyalty.

It’s time to reimagine the experience you’re providing to associates and consider ways of giving employees opportunities to thrive even when they’re presented with entirely new roles and responsibilities. How can your cashiers bring a human touch to customer service? Are there ways to train your teams to be more tech-savvy and take on new tasks like online order fulfillment?

 Every grocery store will be different, but digging into what your associates really want out of their jobs ensures they’ll be more motivated, productive and secure that they’re wisely investing their time with the business because the business has invested in them.

Maliyah Bernard

Maliyah Bernard is an academic writer turned content writer. As a former frontline worker, she loves writing about all the ways organizations can support these essential workers smarter.