Building a high-performance frontline workforce—one associate at a time

From recruiting to retention—and everything in between—here’s how to address the challenges with creating your retail dream team

Group of young women applying for jobs

The battle for the best

Successful retailers have a distinct advantage over their competitors: their associates.

Your frontline workforce can set you apart. It can help your company rise to the top and bring much-needed consistency to your brand, stores, and customer experience.

But building an all-star team capable of performing—day in and day out—is no small feat. First, you have to find top talent and get them to join. And that’s just half the battle! Then you have to bring them into the fold and convince them to stay.

So, what does it take to build a high-performance frontline workforce that can thrive in today’s uber-competitive retail landscape?

Check out our blueprint for success for the answers, or keep reading for insights and tips to help you modernize your approaches to onboarding, retaining, engaging and developing the best frontline associate talent.

See the blueprint

Desperately seeking top talent

What do you get when you cross low unemployment with high wages and a shrinking talent pool? Stiff competition.

Seriously though, attracting top talent is no joke. Retail has one of the highest turnover rates. Some stores have to replace 100% of their staff over the course of a single year. With so many retailers competing for the same few candidates, scoring the superstars you need to succeed can seem impossible.

The good news is, sometimes all that stands between you and your ideal candidate is a hard-to-find job posting. We’ve pulled together 5 simple strategies you can use to help you attract the best of the best.

Get the scoop

Bring them onboard faster for longer

Associates leave jobs for many reasons: other opportunities, seasonality, better pay or perks. But a bad onboarding experience is quickly becoming one of the leading culprits.

The thing is, retailers spend a lot of time and effort finding all-star associates. But many don’t put the same amount of time and effort into onboarding them. So it’s sink, or swim. And that can leave new hires questioning whether they made the right choice.

More than 20% of staff quit within the first 45 days. So setting up new hires for long-term success—from day one—is critical. When you start associates off strong and keep a good thing going, they feel confident, valued and inclined to stay loyal longer.

Pop over to our onboarding page to find out the best way to bring on your new hires.


Engagement matters. Big time.

At the risk of sounding obvious, engaged employees are good for business.

Organizations with highly engaged employees have lower levels of churn. And engaged employees are loyal—which means they stay longer. (And that helps with managing a constantly revolving door of talent.)

What’s less obvious is how your employee engagement efforts are translating.

Do you want to know how your org stacks up? Take the quiz to find out exactly what it takes to effectively engage your frontline.

Question #1

On a scale of 1 – 10, how aligned are your frontline employees to your organization’s vision, goals, and values? (Do their on-the-job behaviors support them?)

Not at all aligned
Very aligned

Please select an answer.

Question #2

What statement would you say best describes your new hire onboarding process?

Please select an answer.

Question #3

Do you provide frontline employees with convenient, ongoing (daily or weekly) training opportunities designed to help them learn on the job?

Please select an answer.

Question #4

Which statement best describes how you communicate with your frontline associates?

Please select an answer.

Question #5

Does your organization actively use a program to reward and recognize frontline employees for their ongoing contributions?

Please select an answer.

Question #6

Do you provide frontline employees with opportunities to develop (personally or professionally)?

Please select an answer.

Question #7

Do you measure frontline employee engagement?

Please select an answer.

Question #8

Are you able to push out targeted engagement surveys (to specific groups) and analyze results in real-time?

Please select an answer.

You’re off to a good start! But there’s room for improvement. Don’t let that get you down though.

There are a lot of low-effort, high-impact steps you can take to boost your frontline associate engagement. Get them in your Report Card, along with quick, actionable tips, tricks, and resources to help you take your associate engagement from 😐 to 😄.

You’re making a concerted effort to engage your associates—and it shows. Keep up the good work!

Get your Report Card to score quick, actionable tips and resources to help you take your associate engagement from 🙂 to 😄 .

Wow! You’re not just engaging your associates; you’re doing something much bigger. You’re building a culture of engagement.
We’ve pulled together some resources and tips to help you as you set out to build a high-performance company culture. Get them now in your Report Card.

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You get what you give

Sooner or later (and, let’s be honest, it’s usually sooner in retail), employees quit. But is this an inevitability or a classic case of cause and effect?

Sure, there will always be those employees who show up just to collect a paycheck. But what about the ones who are keen to learn more, do more and achieve more? More often than not, these top performers don’t want to leave. But, when they feel like they’re stuck in a dead-end job with no future in sight, they move on.

So, what happens when you invest in these eager associates and give them opportunities to grow and develop? When you show them, in your organization, retail is a viable career path, they go from feeling stuck to wanting to stick around.

In fact, 75% of retail associates say the opportunity to develop their skills makes an employer more attractive.

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Get your new hires from green to go for the holidays

Your holiday staff is here for a good time, not a long time. So it’s important that you make the most of the time you have. And that means getting new hires up to speed—fast—so you can make your customers’ holiday shopping wishes come true.

In true holiday fashion, the stakes are high. Not only are you competing for share of wallet, but you’re also competing for share of workforce. Before your customers start decking the halls, you need to start stocking your staff with the extra help you’ll need to get through the holidays—without sacrificing customer experience or slowing the momentum of the team.

That’s a tall order, but we’ve got just the thing to help you pull it off. Check out this guide to seasonal hiring for 5 strategies to help you hire smarter (and smoother) for the holidays.

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We want to help you build a high-performing frontline workforce.