7 actions Retail L&D teams can take to help retain talent

In the US, Retail is seeing more employees walk away than any other industry. In fact, Retail had its largest one month exodus ever in 2021. Piling on the pressure to those retail organizations that have already had to make redundancies due to Covid, resignations are biting hard. So what can Retail L&D teams do to help stop talent from walking out the door? Here’s a round up of 7 top strategies.

How to retain talent in retail

First, why is retail talent walking out the door?

With two of the most disruptive years in world history, the covid pandemic has made answering questions about the great resignation a challenge. The lines between life, work, family, health and newly questioned personal values have blurred into a tangle, meaning that the causes for actions are hard to pick apart.

Every retail organization watching Glassdoor and reading the summaries of exit interviews has a slightly different story to tell. But reports from the likes of Personio cite three core reasons:

– Lack of appreciation

– Lack of career progression

– Poor Management

“In interviews with more than a dozen retail workers who recently left their jobs, nearly all said the pandemic introduced new strains to already challenging work: longer hours, understaffed stores, unruly customers and even pay cuts.Washington Post.

And, of course, for those in office jobs, the world has become a work from home oyster, where people can now literally work for anyone, anywhere in the world. So if you have talent, you can take it anywhere.

With the rising costs of hiring and training new people, and the continued impact resignations have on employee morale and productivity, it’s no wonder retailers want the talent loss to stop. Retail is taking action to retain employees. But how?

All this (and more!) was dicussed by top retail experts from Elucidat, Walt Disney and Groupon in the recent Retail Bulletin HR Summit 2021 – for more insights catch the full recording here.

What L&D teams in Retail can do to help retain employees

The answer certainly does not sit with one team in an organization, and may well be cultural. But talking with L&D teams across the sector, we’ve pulled together some ways in which your team can take steps to stem the turnover.

1. Lead with need now more than ever

This is the time to get close to what employees actually want and need. Yes, there are Glassdoor reviews and exit interview data, but you need to get out there taking some temperature checks and talking with individuals across your business. Find out what they want for their development and career, dig into what they might actually need (might be different!) and what will actually help make their job easier or less stressful.

This doesn’t have to take months. Use pulse checks, surveys, group and one to one user group discussions – and follow up. Feed back what you’ve heard, what you’re planning to do, and get to some quick wins…quickly! This is your time to win hearts, not minds. There are loads of ideas on how to lead with need here.

2. Support and advertise flexible career pathways

Partner with business units to create clear and visible career pathways that include the provision of reskilling and upskilling opportunities.

These need to be a far cry from traditional pathways, and allow for sidewards and diagonal career paths. Don’t assume everyone wants to get to the ‘top’!

As part of this – learning needs to be made self-sufficient and always on.

3. Build skill bites, not long courses

If someone is keen to grow in your organization, don’t send them off on a 3-day in-house leadership course.

Enable them to have access to specific skill training that helps them build up their skills in focused ways, no matter what job role they are in or might end up in. If they want to round off their skills in hosting online meetings, let them do just that. If they need to develop clearer presentation skills, give them access to that.

Think relevant, helpful, useful – and not overwhelming. Now is the time for focus

4. Help those managers!

L&D has a huge role to play in helping managers to help their teams. On the one side, you need to make sure managers are equipped to support employees with exploring career pathways, getting the skill training they need, and helping them feel they are partnering with the organization in their own development. So clear comms like Loom videos that walk through examples of how to help employees, are key.

But managers and leaders may also need some dedicated attention and some serious skills development themselves. Especially if they are cited as a reason for people leaving. It’s not going to be an overnight fix, but now is the time to fight for budget for investment in manager training.

5. Professionalise your training

Investing in the individual not the job role is a key message right now. Firm up your organizations belief in this by providing professionalized, certified units of training.

In our own research into the habits and needs of the modern learner, we uncovered that many employees are seeking professionalized development in soft skills such as critical thinking and emotional intelligence, as well as transferrable harder skills like the use of data.

If you can serve these ‘skill units’ up or make them available, your employees don’t need to look elsewhere. If you prefer to create in-house training, why not invest in bringing some established outside experts such as key authors in, to develop exclusive courses with you?

6. Capture the talent of the talented

Employees who get involved with organizational development and who take part in sharing knowledge and coaching others tend to be more engaged with your business, whilst engaging others. Sharing is literally caring.

As an L&D department, you also need to be making it super easy for others to share their wisdom and know-how as there’s a chance that that knowledge could walk out the door.

So go for a win-win and provide user-friendly places and spaces for easy knowledge sharing. Examples could be setting up a ‘day in the life’ intranet page where employees upload short videos of what they do in their job, using their mobile phones. Great for onboarding others.

Or provide one-pager digital learning templates that enable others to create succinct resources – like step guides or top tips. This tip based resource was created using one of Elucidat’s out the box templates, as an example.

7. Make mentoring accessible to everyone

Make mentoring available to more than just managers or leaders. Allow employees to find other employees that have a skill they need, and help them get together by providing an easy virtual set up. It could be as simple as a phone call, a virtual meeting, or getting together in person for 20 mins.

Again, provide some templates so that the mentee can pull together some questions they have about that skill area.

Last but not least, an opportunity is knocking for L&D teams in two key ways.

  • Businesses are waking up to the idea they need to do more to retain talent
  • Digital platforms are now deemed essential and more funding is being made available in many organizations for investment in tech

So, now is the time to use those budgets, invest them wisely in great learn tech, and influence the business on what needs to be done across the board to rise to the challenge of creating a strong, inspiring learning and development culture.

No pressure, but go get ‘em.

Retain top retail talent by learning from the best in the business

Want help setting your vision or getting to the heart of employees needs, we’ve got just the thing… Register for the Learning at Large Knowledge Hub and get access to expert interviews, downloadable guides and tools, plus bite-sized tips to help you on your way to producing quality digital learning your employees will love.

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