Stock should have a high turnover, not workers

By Charles Watson, Workforce Guardian

The retail industry has long been characterised by a high turnover of workers. The reasons for this are varied and not necessarily reflective of poor practices in retail workplaces. However, there are a few ideas businesses can simply and easily apply, that will have an impact on your workers and benefit your bottom line. In this article I outline a few overlapping factors employers should consider.

Workplace Culture

It’s been a workplace catch phrase for several years now, but the evidence establishes that ‘organisational culture eats strategy’ is spot on. This doesn’t necessarily mean installing a ping-pong table, but rather employers should come up with ways of making the workplace somewhere that workers want to turn up to each day and feel engaged.

A good workplace culture is like a choir. Everyone is skilled in their role and function within the overall group and collectively behave with a single purpose having become part of something. A simple common and shared vision understood by everyone is where it starts. Remember the empire Walt Disney has grown on the vision of ‘to make people happy’. I’m a cynical lawyer but I think that’s awesome!


It does not matter how large or small your business, having a simple plan for communicating with your workers makes a big difference. This also supports the previous point on workplace culture. Businesses can rely on emails, texting and other forms of electronic communications, but covering relevant and important issues in conversation with your workers is still the best way to get across the sincerity of the message.


You run a business and the skills you have are transferrable to others. Mentor younger workers on the various aspects of your business. It’s likely to dawn on them how hard you have worked to establish your business and what it takes to run it. Conversely, let them come up with ideas for doing things better and you may be surprised. But remember mentoring is not instructing a worker on how to do their job. Rather, it’s about supporting, engaging and developing knowledgeable workers.

Work/Life Balance

Another catchphrase that also rings true. Workers of different ages and at different stages in their life are looking for different experiences. Understanding this and showing some consideration to the personal issues your workers are facing will establish a level of trust and commitment that won’t go unrewarded. Remember being flexible doesn’t mean being a walkover. Some workers are just not meant to fit into your business and their future lies elsewhere.

Safe work practices

This is another no brainer. Issues relating to lifting, sitting, standing, processes and other workplace stressors are all issues that employers have legal obligations to minimise or eliminate. Having a policy in place is not enough to fulfil your obligations. Regular communication on safe workplace practices keeps it forefront in everyone’s minds and will help to minimise workers compensation issues.

Most retailers are already busy keeping the doors open and are generally time poor. Consider these simple steps for some increased success. You deserve it.

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