A great Customer Experience (CX) begins with a great Employee Experience. In retail, offline and online, you are trusting your business to the people on the front line; cashiers, servers, technical service reps, customer service reps, clerks, ambassadors, helpers, etc.
Consider this…have you ever noticed that a customer service person was having a bad day despite the smile on their face and the kind words on their lips? Of course you have! Because how an individual feels gets projected consciously and/or subconsciously every time they interact with you.
Everyone has a bad day from time to time. However, what impression does it make if the employees at your favourite restaurant or store are “having a bad day” every time you interact with them? Do you want to spend time (and money) in a place that feels unwelcoming or negative?
A huge contributor to the “Great Resignation” happening right now is rooted in employee dissatisfaction. In particular, retail and food service industries are hurting and desperate for warm bodies. Are those people just being lazy, collecting government support without looking for a job? Sure, an exceedingly small number of people are likely defrauding the system and abusing programs put in place to support people during the pandemic. There is always someone willing to take advantage of any system. That’s not new. It then seems unreasonable to assign blame for the current labour shortage on fraud.
Here’s what I see. People are re-evaluating their priorities. They have been confronted with their own mortality. Low pay is only one small part of the equation for the mass exodus from specific industries and/or particular workplaces.
- Wages are low for many front line jobs across many industries.
- Many must work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet.
- No paid sick leave.
- No affordable child care and/or they worry about their child’s health and safety.
- Their job has changed dramatically and they may not be trained properly. For example, they might be unsure about new processes and rules related to:
- curb side pick-up and/or online ordering
- new health and safety measures within the workplace, for staff and customers
- They are risking their lives (and their loved ones’ lives) by going to work…
- Interacting with customers who may or may not be vaccinated.
- Feeling unsupported and unsafe when having to confront individuals ignoring public health rules.
- Interacting with coworkers who may not be vaccinated where is no rapid testing protocol in their workplace.
- Working with coworkers without paid sick leave who can’t afford to (and don’t) stay home when ill.
- Existing medical issues can put them at an even higher risk for severe illness and death.
Working with the public can be difficult at the best of times.1 Piling on all these extra stresses and risks makes those jobs much more challenging. They simply don’t feel like “essential workers”. Period.
Again, wages are only part of the problem and therefore only part of the solution. Boosting salaries and wages will not make an employee stay in a job where they feel unappreciated, unsupported, and unsafe indefinitely. Your employees will be much more productive and committed to their job if the overall environment is supportive.
Maybe you truly cannot afford to pay higher wages, especially after 2 years of ups and downs. You have other levers you can pull to encourage your employees to stick with you.
This recent Op/Ed article from Retail Insider explores how satisfied employees help your bottom line. https://retail-insider.com/retail-insider/2021/11/a-positive-employee-experience-is-good-for-retailers-bottom-line-op-ed/
Unlike wild bears, feeding the content creator is encouraged! 🙂
1 I once landed a full-time retail job when full-time roles were scarce by nailing the answer to the following question: “What do you like most and least about working in retail?”
My answer: “The answer to both questions is the customers.”
I wasn’t trying to be funny or clever. My answer was genuine. Only in hindsight did I realize just how spot on I was! Have you ever slam dunked the answer to an interview question? Please share!
What are your thoughts on the ‘great resignation’? Please share in the comments!
© 2021-2022 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.