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Three Ways to Identify and Retain the Best Hourly Workers

Scott Tremper

Creative Director at Traitify | Lover of Film, Games, Music, and Wiener Dogs | Inventor/Planner in Work

Originally published in Today's Grocer Vol. 59 No. 5

On the heels of Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods comes the realization that this sudden blend of online and brick-and-mortar retailers has the potential to change the retail game forever. As consumers continue to move toward online and mobile purchases, it will become increasingly important for brick-and-mortar retailers like grocers to focus on strengthening the key element where online can’t compete: face-to-face customer service.

The challenge? Great customer service stems from great employees, which are hard to retain. In today’s fast-paced world, stores suffer from high turnover rates, making it difficult for them to build and retain the seasoned employee base they need to offer the level of customer service that creates legacy shoppers.  

So what does a high turnover rate mean for retailers? Astronomical costs. According to the Hay Group, the median turnover rate for part-time retail employees is around 67%. Similarly, employee search firm Keystone, found that some cases of turnover can cost between 75-100% of the position's annual pay, while a study from The Center for American Progress found that to hire and train a new hourly employee costs around $3,300. While many employees leave voluntarily for various reasons, these numbers are incredibly high, which can only suggest one thing: we’re simply hiring the wrong people.

Here are three ways to make better hiring decisions and increase retention so your business doesn’t become another statistic.

Make sure you understand the hourly employee

Unlike salaried employees, hourly employees, according to research from Kleiman, are generally in their mid-twenties, seeking part-time roles, and ~80% of them live within a half-mile of their workplace. Knowing what you’re looking for and what the candidate is looking for is key to finding the perfect fit for the job.

Take personality into account

When hiring, it's crucial to consider a candidate's personality, focusing on what characteristics are important for that exact position. Consider supplementing the hiring process with a personality assessment to determine 1) how well the candidate matches the role requirements, 2) how he/she fits within the company culture and 3) if there are specific team members with whom the candidate will work with best.

Incentivize employees for their good work

Provide a clear path of growth for employees that gives them tangible goals to achieve, and keeps their employment focused in-house, instead of wandering externally. Take the extra time to recognize and reward employees—even the smallest kudos can do wonders for a company’s retention rate.

Regardless of evolving trends in shopping, customer service will remain a top priority. Investing in quality hires now will pay off later and is absolutely necessary in ensuring our beloved brick-and-mortar stores don’t fall by the wayside in today’s ever-changing retail landscape.


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