How to engage retail employees

By 24th August 2020April 13th, 2021Retail

FACT: Over 50% of employees are not engaged at work.

There is no question that the current COVID situation has left many retail employees feeling stressed out and anxious. These feelings aren’t temporary, nor are they going to just disappear and it’s likely that they’ll stick around far beyond COVID-19.

And it is easy to see why…

After months of having to deal with customer complaints and social distancing issues, to then having to handle the 1000s of customers flooding stores once they reopened and navigate the frustration of this new in-store environment; many retail associates have been left feeling unmotivated and under appreciated by their employers.

Why is employee engagement important?

It is a proven fact that happy employees generate greater productivity. Similarly, if they enjoy their job, they are more likely to engage with their work, providing a better customer experience. So if you want to achieve higher sales, then it is pivotal that your employees feel fully engaged with their roles as brand ambassadors.

REMEMBER: employees are the biggest contributing factor to the success or failure of a business. Only by investing in employee engagement can you help your business to grow and remain profitable.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement can take many forms, the most important being showing your employees that you: care; respect their health- both physical & mental, their personal lives, and appreciate the time, effort and skills they invest into your store environment.

By taking the time to appreciate these elements, you will instantly strengthen their affinity to your business, driving them to be as passionate about helping it to succeed as you are.

The key to getting it right is to do the following:

Physical health

Even the smallest acts of physical activity will keep your team energised, motivated and free from lethargy.

We suggest:

  • Hosting regular physical challenges – from couch to 5K to group retreats, yoga and water sports; you can easily incorporate these into the workplace, and keep your team positive.
  • Sponsor activities – continuing on from the point above, sponsoring monthly employee activities e.g. rock climbing, boot camps, etc. will give your team something to look forward to, as well as will help them to connect with their colleagues.
  • Encourage active breaks to keep employees moving and healthy – this is particularly important if their role is very stationary. Simply taking a walk around the office every 1-2 hours will get colleagues away from their computer screens and get their blood flowing. Alternatively, you can take this a step further and encourage your employees to take active lunch breaks where they can do onsite yoga/activities in the conference room.
  • Lighting should be placed in optimal positions for the benefit of your displays and employees, as they will spend almost their entire day under it. As such, you need to find a balance between highlighting your products and not straining your employee’s eyes.
  • Bring the outdoors in – if possible try to bring some nature inside and create a biophillic design. This gives employees a taste of the outdoors – which they may not see whilst working, helping to alleviate stress, reduce blood pressure and heart rate.

Mental Health

Protecting the mental health of your employees is vital as stress, anxiety and pressure will leave them feeling unmotivated or nervous to come to work, which in turn affects productivity, efficiency levels and interest in their work.

For this reason we suggest:

  • Giving your employees a reason to turn up – setting rewardable goals to achieve will keep them motivated and interested in their jobs (as their achievements will be acknowledged and recognised).
  • Giving them the freedom to speak – if you haven’t already got a policy in place where employees can discuss their feelings/concerns, then we suggest you create one. The presence of this policy will prevent situations from escalating (if they are unhappy) whilst allowing them to inform you in a constructive manner. In turn, this freedom of speech and knowledge that they are being heard can reduce feelings of isolation, boost morale and leave colleagues feeling empowered and a valuable part of the team.
  • Let employees share their voice – carrying on from the point above, another tactic you can try is creating a blog where employees can write, share their thoughts and talk about what they love. This can range from featuring their achievements i.e. running a marathon, or their participation in training exercises/activities. By writing their achievements down, it will inspire them to accomplish more (positive affirmations).
  • Plan efficiently – the simple act of giving your employees their shift schedules as far in advance as possible will eliminate unnecessary stress as they’ll be able to organise their life – work and social – around this schedule.
  • Maximise their comfort – make the breakout room a space where they can relax, feel calm and get a mental break from what they’ve been doing all day i.e. it shouldn’t be used as a storage room, and should be kept entirely separate from the interruptions of the working day.
  • Boost communication between locations – if your business is spread across multiple stores, or satellite offices, then make sure that staff can easily communicate across locations. This will enable them to help each other solve problems/share ideas. We recommend utilising chat platforms such as Microsoft Teams to allow them to chat in real time.


We touched on this subject a little in the section above. However, you’d be surprised by how much of a difference showing your appreciation can make to your team.


Some of the best ways to show your employees that you’re happy with their work is:

  • Reward systems – offering rewards for achieving personal/ business goals will keep team members engaged, interested and willing to go the extra mile (as they’ll want to earn your reward). NOTE: these goals should be measurable, realistic and attainable. To ensure these goals are achievable you must set the team up for success, ensuring they have all the tools they need to carry out their duties efficiently, as well as providing regular construction feedback so that they feel supported. These rewards should be immediate and not geared towards the long term.
  • Recognition – aside from meeting personal goals, recognising the great customer experiences they provide your customers with will boost their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. We recommend performing regular staff observations, as well as utilising customer feedback forms. Both will help you to quickly spot team players, and any areas / individuals that may require support or further training.
  • Employee benefits – offering discounts on products from your own brand as well as other complimentary brands is a quick win to keep your staff incentivised and keen to earn these bonuses.
  • Confidential help and support – the option to speak to someone about their worries – be they be mental, financial or legal – will feed into their sense of brand loyalty (as they’ll know that you’ll always support them).
  • Make training fun – whether for a new role or to enhance their ability in their current position; it is essential that you make it enjoyable and do-able. If it’s dull they won’t absorb it. And if it’s too hard, they may leave feeling frustrated. Instead, aim to make training feel attainable and beneficial, whilst proving they can progress and climb the career ladder. NOTE: this is especially true in deskless environments which often get overlooked.

As you can see, getting retail employees engaged is easier than you think. From giving them a voice, offering rewards, or simply creating a relaxing environment; with the right preparation you can protect their mental and physical health.

For assistance with redesigning your office and creating the perfect space, contact our team at Resolution Interiors today.