New business owner guide to recruiting for retail positions

Editorial Team

8 min read
Retail employees checking out customers at Station Duo

As a retail business owner, your staff are frontline employees who directly interact with customers and who can impart a make-or-break impression on anyone who walks in your store. Maintaining high-quality staff in retail is challenging, as 2022 research from McKinsey & Company shows annual worker turnover among frontline retail workers is around 60%. What’s more, 63% of frontline retail managers were considering quitting in the next few months and leaving the retail space altogether.

Improving retention and lowering turnover in retail starts with a strong recruiting process. In this guide, learn how to attract talented retail professionals and set them up for success as part of your business team.

Defining professional roles in retail

First, use your business plan mission and vision to determine what sets your retail business apart and how your staff will contribute to that. To ensure you have the right amount of staff and defined positions to effectively handle customer flow and business operations, make sure to:

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of your business needs. How big is your store? What sales volume do you expect at specific times, and how fast do you want to be able to serve customers?
  • Identify key positions and responsibilities within your retail business. Where do you want to position staff throughout your store? How many people, in which number of positions, do you need on the floor at one time?
  • Tailor job roles to align with the company’s goals and values. Think about how each position you create will support your business mission.

Once you have an idea of the total number of positions you want to create and the number of people you’ll need to fill them, you can begin the recruitment process for attracting top talent.

Crafting attractive retail job descriptions

To help with hiring the right people, and to help ensure they don’t quit, it’s important to write compelling, informative, and accurate job descriptions that reflect the role and the company culture. According to the 2022 Job Seeker Nation Report, one-third of new employees quit their position in the first three months. In a high-turnover industry like retail, the risk can be even higher.

To develop effective job descriptions for various types of retail positions, follow these tips.

  • List as many details as possible about what workers can expect from the company culture and from working in the role itself. Highlight key responsibilities and expectations.
  • State any qualifications and requirements.
  • Explain potential career development plans and opportunities for career growth.
  • Add a call to action that encourages qualified candidates to apply.

When the reality of a job doesn’t align with candidate expectations, that can lead to higher quit rates more quickly. Up-front transparency, including information about salary and benefits, can set candidates up with realistic expectations from the start.

Utilizing various retail recruitment channels

There are many strategies for how to hire retail employees. From traditional job boards to referrals, the following are some candidate sources to consider:

  • Online job listings and platforms: You can post open positions online and use keywords in job descriptions to show up in results when people are searching for retail positions.
  • Social media: New business owners can use their personal social media channels, such as LinkedIn, to announce their business and ask for candidate referrals. You can also use social media advertising to target relevant candidates.
  • Schools: Share open positions with students, from high school students to community college and local university students. Ask if you can submit job listings to student job boards, and/or post flyers for open positions around campus.
  • Industry networks: If you belong to any professional organizations or industry networks, look into career boards where you can post open positions.

Once you start hiring, you can also create an employee referral program to encourage your staff to refer their contacts. Forbes reports that referred employees are more likely to stay with a company longer. Research shows 45% of referrals stay at a company longer than four years, while only 25% of employees sourced from job boards stay longer than two years. Referred employees are also quicker and less expensive to hire.

Conducting effective interviews

Once you’ve identified potential candidates, it’s time for the interview process. You’ll likely want to meet candidates in person or at least face-to-face online before you hire them, so you can get a sense of their personality and how they interact with you. For an effective interview process, consider the following:

  • Develop a structure: A structured interview process makes it easy for anyone at your company to lead interviews when needed. It also ensures fairness and consistency throughout the process for all candidates.
  • Ask the right retail interview questions: Include a variety of situational and behavioral questions to assess candidates’ skills and ensure they’re a cultural fit. In addition to asking questions about retail experience, present situations and culture fit interview questions that reveal related skills like social interaction, communication and teamwork, and problem-solving techniques, such as resolving customer complaints.
  • Involve multiple team members: You might consider having multiple team members meet a candidate before hiring them. This can help you understand how they’d fit in with the overall team and can also provide the candidate with insights into your company, so they can decide if your business is the right fit for them, as well.

At the end of any interview, give the candidate an opportunity to ask you questions. The better you can get to know the candidate, and they can get to know your business, the more likely you are to ensure the candidate is the right fit for your store.

Implementing a strong retail onboarding process

Because quit rates are so high in the first 90 days – especially in high-turnover industries such as retail – proper onboarding is essential to retain candidates during this critical time. Some ways to provide a smooth transition and encourage a lasting career in retail include:

  • Create a comprehensive onboarding plan for new hires. Again, a structured plan can help provide consistency, while enabling all current and future leaders at your company to deliver a consistent onboarding experience. Your onboarding plan might include training, working with various departments/team members, and offering educational opportunities that help employees develop their skills.
  • Introduce employees to your company culture, values, and expectations. Using your brand mission and vision, integrate your company’s values into every part of the onboarding process. Carefully explain why you approach tasks with a certain perspective, or do things in a certain way. Tie everything back to what sets your business apart through its mission.
  • Provide resources on retail training topics. In addition to real-time training for retail employees, provide new hires with other business resources they can access when they need to. For example, you might upload an employee handbook and training manual online, so employees can refer back to it. You could also create a new employee frequently asked questions document and add to it as you hire more employees.
  • Assign mentors or buddies to support new employees. Mentors at work can positively contribute to your retention efforts. According to a study by the Association for Talent Development, employee engagement and retention increase by 50% when companies offer mentorship programs. Mentorship programs also improve collaboration and relationship-building by 37%. Pair new employees with more experienced employees. Mentors can gain value by practicing their leadership and communication skills, while mentees get to build new relationships and participate in valuable hands-on learning.
  • Prioritize offering opportunities for skill development and career advancement. To keep talented employees, employers must give them ways to advance their careers and develop their skills. A study of 3,000 workers by Amazon and Workplace Intelligence found skills development is a top priority for 83% of employees, and two-thirds of employees plan to quit because they don’t have opportunities for skills development or career advancement. When you hire new employees, immediately give them an opportunity to create a career development plan, which maps out how they’d like to grow their careers with your company. Then, organize training and learning sessions that give employees the opportunity to learn and practice the skills they need to advance.

Promote open lines of communication with employees, so they can alert your store’s leadership when they’re not happy about specific things. This can help you address problems quickly and mitigate the risk of new employees quitting early on.

Creating a successful retail business starts with the right tools

You can make more successful hires with a strategic recruitment and hiring process. You can also set up new employees for success with the right technology and tools.

Clover’s retail point-of-sale systems make it easy for employees to move lines along quicker, which improves the level of customer service employees can provide. You can also use Clover retail POS systems to manage employees and track sales and employee performance, which you can share with your team to help motivate them to improve business operations. Other retail POS system features, such as inventory management, help ensure your store has the right products in stock, so you can make it easier for employees to create an exceptional customer experience.

Why wait? Get started with a Clover POS system to elevate your business today.

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