An Eye Into The World

Driving Employee Engagement in Shoe Stores

8 strategies that can help managers increase employee engagement, reduce turnover, and maintain a sustainable shoe retail business.

Employees’ everyday routines working in shoe stores makes them believe they are doing their jobs whenever they beat their sales goals—whether daily or yearly. But what happens when a store does not have a stable employee team all year long? For a manager, the key to having an excellent employee system is balancing operational tasks with the leadership role.

In the 1460s, Europeans assembled “Pattens,” a type of platform shoe people wore outdoors due to the lack of urban paving. Today, customers are coming into our shoe stores requesting our employees’ expertise to help them find the right shoe. The shoe retail industry has evolved, and much of our company’s success relies on sales associates engaging with customers in the proper manner. This knowledge is gained through the training and development of our employees.

One of the most common scenarios within shoe retail is that managers tend to rush into hiring new employees as the busy season approaches, as a temporary fix to cover the extra business. The lack of stability in the team can cause job overload and stress, affecting sales and projects. If you do not invest time to recruit and select potential candidates to develop a successful, sustainable staff, your company’s profit and brand image will be viewed in a negative way.

Before implementing the following eight steps to help enhance employee engagement, it is important as a manager to embrace several Level 5 leadership strategies. These include managing the team with transparency to unify their engagement between their job and the organization and to support business operations with more commitment. Another is guiding the team to stay connected to meet the company’s goals from daily to annual sales. An engaged team is the main backbone to creating and maintaining a sustainable work environment.

8 Steps to Employee Engagement
  1. Hold group sessions with new employees. Train them on the company’s vision, mission, core values, employee manual, and business scenarios. Allow them to work in pairs on a quiz based on the training sessions. This will develop genuine teamwork, communication, and support. It also will encourage the new team to internalize and project this information to their job performance.
  2. Identify the organization’s resources and the team’s S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). Use this information in a strategic way to develop goals and strategies in alignment with your company’s core values to turn the business around. Also, balance employees’ skills, knowledge, and abilities when creating the schedule to ensure a more efficient team while training new assets.
  3. Allow a few minutes to talk with employees at the beginning and end of their shifts. Motivate them to start their job that day on a good note and with a purpose, so at the end of the day, they will feel satisfied about accomplishing the projects. Use this moment to strengthen the communication, relationship, and support employees need to perform successfully.
  4. Develop workstations with clear tasks according to the store schedule. For example, if there is a truck day or inventory, designate each employee an area related to the projects. Rotate stations to train everyone in all areas and avoid monotony. A former manager once said, “One of the key elements to get your employees engaged in their performance is to have a creative environment that is fun.” Follow up on assigned projects to hold people accountable; this productivity will create smooth transitions through shifts.
  5. Select experienced employees to be shadowed by new hires. This will make the experienced employees feel honored for being selected. It will increase their job commitment, influencing their interest to learn and do more. Also, it is important to provide new employees training in all areas, operation processes, programs, and technology. This will allow everyone to respond properly during all kinds of circumstances.
  6. Hold monthly meetings with the team to keep everyone informed about important updates, new products, upcoming projects, reward systems, holidays, employee performance, and HR trainings. Being aware of what is happening in the store helps the team to be prepared, engaged, and take initiative when they come to work. Most importantly, listen to their ideas on the job and be open to their creativity; feedback will make employees feel included.
  7. Implement a session every four months to evaluate the work environment through the application of a climate survey. This will help managers follow up and evaluate progress, and determine if a remedial action should take place in order to improve the operations and work environment. This survey will make your employees feel the company cares and that they are not seen as a cost but as an asset to the organization.
  8. Perform annual Stay Interviews. This tool will give you feedback to reevaluate yourself and goals. It also will show how the company is supporting employees in their work/life balance. You can find out what reward systems interest employees and implement them objectively, following a clear set of criteria to recognize their performance.

All of these strategies can help managers increase employee engagement, reduce turnover, and maintain a sustainable business. The essence of having an engaged team and successful business will fall on the managers performing their roles aligned with Level 5 leadership strategies and the organization’s core values. The outcome of this will exceed shareholder expectations, creating more growth opportunities and business loyalty.

Joan Ortega is a graduate student at Rollins College in the MHR Program in Winter Park, FL. She has a BS Degree in Psychology from the University of Central America, Nicaragua. Her experience in the shoe retail industry comes from Nicaragua and the U.S.

Source: Training Magazine

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