10 effective employee retention tactics for your frontline workforce

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman

With the labor shortage still hampering post-pandemic recovery for retail and hospitality organizations, hiring top-performing employees is only half the battle. The actual mission is to know how to retain them long-term.

Employee retention in these industries is notoriously tricky. The turnover rate for retail and hospitality employees is estimated between 60 and 70 percent over the past few years, over four times higher than the average turnover rate in all other industries. 

Some people will want to work in retail or hospitality for a longer period, and for some, it is just a part-time job alongside their studies. Sometimes turnover is inevitable if they change careers based on their education, but it’s a total waste if they quit for reasons you can control. Decreasing turnover of a few percent will already have a significant impact. 

Your employees are your most valuable asset, which is why especially during these unprecedented times, finding the right retention strategy deserves your full attention. 

We’ve put together a list of concrete ways to round out your employee retention program and boost engagement with your frontline employees.

Don’t miss out on top talent!

What is employee retention?

The employee-employer relationship is at the heart of retention, and like all relationships, it requires constant attention, care, and consideration.

Employee retention is the effort businesses make to keep their current staff and limit employee turnover. It relies on a combination of factors, including flexible work arrangements, benefits, growth and development opportunities, company culture, and more. Employee retention is the art of earning long-term commitment and loyalty from your workforce transforms them into brand ambassadors; it shows how amazing you are and why top employees choose to stick with you out of all others. 

Why is employee retention important?

Employee retention is essential, as retaining key employees is critical to the long-term health and success of your business. Failing to retain is costly and creates organizational issues such as lower morale, insecurity, work overload, high replacement costs, and time spent onboarding and training a new employee. Vice versa, keeping your best employees ensures customer satisfaction, increased ROI, satisfied and happy coworkers and helps your organization to remain competitive and agile in the marketplace.

10 ways to boost employee loyalty and retention

One way for workplaces to improve their employee retention rate is to invest in better employee experience (EX). Unfortunately, while many organizations are happy to invest in the customer experience, the employee experience often gets neglected. Nonetheless, frontline employees are the face of your organization, and if a business has engaged, well-trained, and happy frontline workers, then customer satisfaction will follow, as well as employee retention and better returns on investment.

Here are 10 ways to improve engagement and stop your employees from leaving your organization.

1. Clear, transparent, and engaging communication: Use your internal communication wisely. Be honest and clear about your expectations. Regularly organize group meetings and talk to each employee individually. That way, you can achieve the highest level of transparency, encourage good team morale and ensure everyone knows what’s expected and why.

2. Make sure your recruit feels welcome from day one. Did you know that 69% of employees remain with a company for at least three years if they have followed a structured onboarding program? One-third of your employees leave the organization within the first six months. This period is therefore crucial for your employees. Make sure to engage your employees from the beginning, arrange all practical matters before they start, and then gradually provide them with all the information they need. Tip: Design a buddy program to make sure recruits get socially integrated.

3. Provide education and training: 70% of high-risk retention employees believe they have to leave their organization to advance their careers. Get to know your employees: What are their professional aspirations? Perhaps their dream is to become a manager at one of your stores. How can you help them to pursue that dream? If you support them to succeed, they will help you to succeed. Tip: Make sure to offer learning opportunities, e.g. microlearning & eLearning, and encourage knowledge sharing across departments and locations.

4. Maintain a healthy work-life balance: Workers generally don’t appreciate being spammed with messages after their shift, so avoid adding them to company WhatsApp groups. Instead, a bespoke employee platform makes a better alternative for allowing your frontline employees to remain connected while also allowing them to switch off when the time is right.

5. Recognize and reward hard work: Engaged employees are far less likely to leave. Recognition is crucial for employee engagement. Consider leveraging an employee recognition and rewards platform that allows managers and coworkers to recognize good work when they see it to provide plenty of positive feedback. As a manager, make sure you also point out great results and celebrate successes with the entire team.

6. Give responsibility & trust them: Trust your employees and give them responsibilities. It will increase their sense of empowerment and make them more engaged with your organization. 

7. Gather employee feedback: One of the best ways to retain employees is to listen to them. Learn what’s working and improve what’s not. Your frontline employees are your best source of information if it comes to making your business successful. It helps to improve processes but also allows them to have their voice heard. Tip: Use employee surveys to rapidly and effectively collect feedback from remote employees. 

8. Organize team-building events: organize team meetings and fun activities with your staff. Creating a fun workplace encourages team bonding, increases morale and motivation, and helps to attract and retain talents.

9. Provide a comfortable breakout area: In most scenarios, frontline employees are on their feet for hours at a time. When they finally get a chance to sit down, make sure it’s not among boxes of goods in the storeroom, and maybe with some healthy snacks too.

10. Exit interviews/surveys: As we already mentioned, not all turnover is avoidable. While it’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has chosen to move on, it’s also an excellent opportunity to learn about their experiences at your company in an open dialogue. Exit interviews are the perfect time to ask why an employee is leaving, what they liked and disliked about working there, and what they would have done differently.

Want to take your employee engagement to new heights and make sure to win the fight against employee turnover? An employee app can help you bring employee engagement to new heights and turn your frontline workers into advocates for your brand. Would you like to know how? Read how Oneteam can help, or view the explainer video below:

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