After the hiring process comes the necessary effort of employee retention.
In the 15th annual CStore Decisions/Humetrics HR Benchmarking survey, retailers were asked, “What actions did you take in 2022 to tackle the problem of employee retention?” The No. 1 answer was pay raises at 86%. This was followed by more flexible scheduling at 72% and enhanced employee recognition programs at 41% in third place.
Respondents were also asked, “Other than raising wages, what else are you trying to do to reduce employee turnover?” This was an open-ended question in the survey and the responses included: flexible scheduling, improved training, more paid time off, incentives with dollar value, employment stability and careful selection of new hires. Incentives such as a better environment, contests for selling items, funding things employees are passionate about, and benefit solutions like health insurance and paid vacation time were listed. Other responses included employee engagement programs, more employee recognition, employee meals via a DoorDash account, holiday bonuses and awarding employees with in-store coupons when they go above and beyond. And, one retailer responded, “lowering standards.”
In 2022, short-term employees who quit or were terminated were down by 27% compared to 2021, which could reflect increased wages, better working conditions and the end of the pandemic.
C-stores have traditionally been a high-turnover industry, with many employees leaving within the first few months. Today, many c-stores are putting more emphasis on building a positive work culture, which can help increase employee retention and reduce turnover costs. As seen in the next chart, some 27% of respondents describe their work culture as family-friendly, while 16% pointed to a teamwork environment and 14% said they offered a flexible and adaptable environment.
Training remains a key part of employee retention. In 2023, only 29% of retailers reported using online learning, compared to 41% in 2022. Some 90% of retailers pointed to hands-on training as their preferred method.
This shows how we are coming out of the pandemic, and the preferred method is once again to train in person at the store. Humetrics has identified the following benefits to in-person training.
- Personalized attention: In-person training allows for direct and personalized attention from the trainer, who can observe and adjust the trainee’s actions in real time, provide feedback and answer questions immediately. This can be especially helpful for complex or hands-on tasks that require precise movements or equipment handling.
- Interactivity and collaboration: In-person training can facilitate greater interactivity and collaboration between trainees, who can engage in group activities, discussions and role-playing exercises. This can foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that may be harder to achieve online.
- Accountability: In-person training can also create a greater sense of accountability and commitment to the training process. Trainees may be more motivated to attend and participate in sessions when they are physically present and engaged with others.
Retailers were asked about the retention tools they currently have in place and those they plan to add in the future. The Top 3 retention tools currently in use are: standardized onboarding/orientation program (89%), informal employee recognition program (85%) and performance reviews (82%). Retention interviews, pre-shift huddles and social media were among retention tools retailers said they expect to add in the future.
Humetrics has identified five proven ways to retain needed valuable employees.
- Set them up for success at the start. Take the time to prepare a solid onboarding system. It provides security and creates a welcoming environment. Some 89% of respondents currently have an onboarding process.
- Listen to employees and make them feel understood. Have regular meetings or send out surveys to get feedback. Some 70% of respondents are currently using employee engagement surveys.
- Support work-life balance and well-being. Make it easy for employees to create a schedule that works for them. Provide them with answers needed to do their job to alleviate the stress of not knowing how to do things. Fortysix percent of respondents have formal training.
- Invest in them — and show it. Provide training opportunities, share new open roles they could advance into, help set goals and support their desire to learn. Seven percent of respondents have educational benefits.
- Communicate. When you communicate with your employees, they feel valued and are more driven to do their best work. Some 64% of respondents have pre-shift huddles.
Retailers were asked, “Have you or do you plan to add robotics, self-checkout or any other tools or technology in order to minimize human contact, reduce labor costs or increase efficiency?” While 57% reported they are not adding additional technology, a few participants noted they have added at least one self-checkout lane.