These are uncertain times for c-store owners and operators, as well as for leaders in larger c-store chains. Once the initial lockdowns phased out, sales haven’t typically been an issue for most c-stores during the pandemic.
But there have been plenty of other concerns. Staff morale is low — and that’s if you can find staff in the first place. The labor shortage remains a critical threat in most markets.
Turnover is high as well, with some employees pursuing other opportunities in a competitive labor market. Others bow in and out of the workforce based on risk assessments or childcare needs during a still-complicated pandemic.
It’s a complicated time, but there are several things you can do to boost employee morale at your c-store. Here are six strategies to implement.
Set Clear Expectations
One of the fastest ways to frustrate good employees is to make success seem impossible. Your best employees will want to succeed and do a good job. But for that to happen, they must know what success looks like.
As a c-store leader, your focus may well be on broader initiatives or bigger picture metrics, like per-unit sales or customer experience numbers. Your employees may care about those things, too, but only indirectly.
What they really care about is doing well at what you want them to do. And that must be more specific than those big-picture metrics.
By setting clear expectations and defining success — even down to the individual employee and shift level — you create an environment where people know when they’re succeeding.
Recognize Superior Performance
It’s not enough for employees to know that they are meeting your expectations on paper or in a general sense. One strategy for improving morale is to recognize superior performance within a store.
You’ve likely seen this in larger retail environments, where certain employees wear pins or patches they earned for superior performance. Pins and patches aren’t the only (or necessarily even a smart) way to do this in the c-store environment. But find a way to give this recognition in a manner that fits for your context and role. (Individual store leaders should implement this differently than regional managers, for example.)
Invest in Store Managers
If you’re responsible for multiple units (and therefore multiple store managers), the strategic move is to invest in those store managers. Given what we’ve already covered about the labor shortage, many of those managers are likely new to management (or at least to your company).
The better those managers can do in training and supporting store staff, the higher morale will be for each store. Make sure you support your store managers (and assistants) with proper training — as well as the right technology solutions.
Examine Your Compensation and Benefits Structure
Many of the issues contributing to the staffing shortage and morale struggles are outside the control of managers and businesses. No matter what your role in your organization, you can’t solve school uncertainties or governmental policy decisions.
You may not have direct control over all aspects of compensation and benefits, either. But whatever degree of influence you have, now is the time to exert it.
Find out what your employees want in this realm. Poll those who leave and try to get a sense of what it would’ve taken for them to stay.
Consider making adjustments in one or more of these areas:
- Hourly pay
- Hiring bonuses
- Longevity bonuses (one year, two years, etc.)
- Leave/PTO program
- Insurance package (health, dental, etc.)
- Staff referral bonuses
Implementing all of these would be cost-prohibitive for nearly any c-store, of course. But adjustments like these will certainly be a part of solving the hiring crisis. Now is the time to evaluate which areas could be targeted for improvement.
Improve Onboarding and Training
It’s tempting to think of onboarding and initial training as entirely separate from morale. Training is a new-employee thing, whereas morale is an existing-employee concern.
But take a step back, and the connection becomes clear.
Where do employees first learn what it’s going to be like to work with your company? Where do they get their first impressions of what your store is like? At what point do they begin forming opinions about you or their store manager?
It’s in those first few days of onboarding and training.
Those are the hours and the days where employees decide what it’s going to be like to work in the store. If they start off with a bad impression, every single negative experience just reinforces what they already know. And if it’s not clear from the get-go what to do next or what the expectations are, employees will start out with already-low morale.
Improving your onboarding and training process can start employees in the right frame of mind, giving you a much greater opportunity to keep morale high over the long haul.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to implement a digital mobile training and checklist app like MeazureUp. MeazureUp allows multi-store companies to roll out consistent, standardized digital training across all locations, removing the burden from individual store managers to develop and deliver their own training.
Implement Digital Checklists and Field Audit Tools
Digital checklists and field audit tools like those from MeazureUp are an efficient way to boost employee morale — right now or anytime. You’ll observe better outcomes through setting clearer expectations, achieve better training results through consistent, measurable training modules, and ensure standard operating procedures (SOPs) are being reinforced.
MeazureUp is a digital replacement for paper checklists and assignment documents.
It’s easier to use and provides actionable data on task completion and more. MeazureUp gives you the insight you need to recognize and reward employees for properly completing tasks on-time and their superior performance.
Sponsored content by MeazureUp