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Employee Retention Strategies That Actually Work In Retail

By Maria Hickey on July 21st, 2022

It is no secret that the retail industry is a sector that sees a high staff turnover rate. Retaining highly valuable staff is a problem for many retail employers, so what can retail business owners do to help reduce their rates of staff turnover, and what staff retention strategies work effectively in a retail setting?

Apart from ensuring that business owners have the right insurance for retailers in place to cover any employee-related issues, there are strategies to retain employees that can be adopted to help boost employee retention and deliver high-quality customer service.

In this guide, we look at some strategies to reduce employee absenteeism and enhance retention that could work for your retail business.

Why Is Retention In Retail Such A Huge Problem?

The retail sector is a massive industry with plenty of competition and opportunities for work. Retail employees find it relatively easy to change employers, which is a challenge for employers who have invested so much into recruiting, hiring and training new staff.

There is also a social challenge to overcome when you lose employees. In many cases, your staff members will form teams that work closely together and grow a social bond with each other. When a team member leaves, it can significantly impact the morale of your existing staff as they may struggle to cope with a constantly changing team of co-workers and new starters.

Employee retention is a multi-faceted challenge that can affect all areas of your retail business. A retail business owner needs to retain a team of experienced and knowledgeable staff to enable them to deliver a high-quality service consistently.

The main issue is that the business owners’ time is often taken up with the process of sourcing and training new employees rather than focussing on strategies to keep the staff they already have in place.

Why Do Retail Employees Move Jobs So Often?

One of the main reasons for a high staff turnover in the retail industry is that this sector is well known for expecting employees to work long and often unsociable shifts that don’t fit well with their family commitments.

In retail, wage levels are notoriously low, with most people working on minimum wage or short-term contracts. Employee satisfaction levels can also be low because staff are the first point of contact.

Having to deal face to face with unhappy customers or unruly people causes many shop-floor staff to feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and unsupported by their managers or the company they work for.

All these elements can build up over a short time, causing retail staff to look for better working conditions elsewhere.

So what can retail employers do to help improve the working conditions for their staff and encourage them to stay with the company? Let’s take a look at some successful employee retention strategies.

Six Strategies To Retain Retail Employees:

  1. Seek Out, And Act-On, Employee Feedback:
    The biggest issue that retail staff have is the feeling that their voice isn’t being heard. A good strategy is to listen to what they need and ask for constructive feedback on how you can improve their working conditions. Including staff feedback in the management decisions can also help staff to feel more valued.
  2. Offer Flexible Work Options Where Possible:
    An essential strategy for retaining valuable staff is offering flexible work to accommodate their family responsibilities. You won’t attract and retain staff if you only provide set shifts that overlap with school pick-up and drop-off times or compulsory evening shifts that single parents would struggle to maintain.
  3. Recognise Your Employees’ Achievements:
    Your staff will be more inclined to leave, if they don’t feel recognised or valued for their work. Quite often, retail business owners take their staff for granted and fail to recognise that their hard work and dedication are what is keeping their business ticking over. Staff are happier when their company recognises them and their contributions to the company’s success. Those that feel unappreciated are more likely to leave.
  4. Invest in Your Business’ Tech & Equipment:
    Expecting retail staff to work with out of date technology can cause a lot of frustration. Updating your software and tech equipment will not only help to boost productivity, but it will also mean that your staff are less likely to experience delays caused by inadequate tech support.
  5. Work On Your Company Culture:
    The main focus of many retail businesses is the importance of delivering their products and services, but they often forget about the welfare of their staff. Your staff’s behaviour creates your company culture; so unhappy staff will create a poor culture. The main way to improve your company culture is to set up a two-way infrastructure for positive communication. Your staff need to communicate effectively to build a supportive relationship with their co-workers and managers. Managers should also show genuine care and concern for their team to help support them and address their issues.
  6. Invest In Your Employee’s Training & Personal Growth:
    Many retail staff members don’t feel they receive enough training to enable them to feel confident in their role. They can often feel overwhelmed at work, especially if their manager requests them to take over a position they are not trained for. Retail staff cannot perform their jobs properly without access to the correct information, making them feel less confident, or even unsafe in some working environments. Employers should look at ways to upskill their employees and refresh their knowledge, especially as new technologies are introduced that result in changes to their regular routines.

Can I Get Insurance Against Employees Leaving?

While there is no insurance policy that retail employers can take out to mitigate the effects of their employees leaving the company, it is a legal requirement under the Employers’ Liability Act 1969 for employers to have employers’ liability insurance coverage.

Employers liability insurance helps protect your employees should they fall ill or get injured due to working for your company. This insurance will cover the damages, compensation costs and legal fees that will arise when a current or ex-employee makes a claim against your company for a work-related injury or illness.

Even when an employee has left your company in the past, they can make a claim for an occupational disease many years into the future. It is a legal requirement for employers to carry this insurance and is especially valuable for retail business owners that may employ multiple staff over many years. Employers could face fines of £2,500 for each day they aren’t correctly insured.


If you want to improve your retail staff retention rates and hold onto your best employees, it is essential to invest your time into developing winning strategies that will prove effective.

Boosting your employee’s job satisfaction and opening lines of communication that enable them to have their voices heard is a big step toward achieving this goal. Offering more training and career progression opportunities will also build staff loyalty, which will help to boost your employee retention levels. Our team can help you compare business insurance policies and find the one that provides the most value for your money.

Maria Hickey

For more than 20 years, Maria has worked in the insurance sector and has extensive underwriting and customer service expertise. Maria is an experienced Senior Underwriter with a particular specialism for shop, office and surgery related insurance.

All articles by Maria Hickey

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