The fit approach to recruiting the right retail staff for your business

Imagine being in the situation where you rarely have to recruit staff for your shop floor. Where potential employees approach your business and you have the power to make choices.

“Fit” retailers, who find themselves in this enviable position, have better success on the sales floor. Why? Because prospective employees already want to work for you, without persuasion, and have a “pre-existing passion” for your business.

To become an ’employer of choice’ you need to put strategies in place to build your reputation, reflecting the way you treat your staff as well as the company values that you are known for.

So to set you on the road to becoming an employer of choice, here are a few important business “fitness” tips.

1. Know what you stand for and how to express this to create your company culture. Remember, reflecting your true values will attract the kind of staff that you want for your business.

2. Set the right tone in your communications messaging. Having a consistent set of communication messages is so important, as is your company tone of voice. The tone of voice in your employee careers communication will be reflected in the tone of resumes you will receive. Ikea is a good example of this. A straightforward, down to earth company uses straightforward speak, offering “a simple HR idea” of “giving down to earth, straightforward people the opportunity to grow as individuals and in their professional roles”.

3. Walk in the shoes of a potential employee. Regularly check how your company is communicating to your potential employee audience. If you were a prospective employee, what would you think of your company?

4. What can you offer potential employees? How do you make them feel they’ve come to the right place? How is your offer different to others? Apple tells prospective employees it’s “a store like no other and a career like no other”, as well as communicating the core values of the business “Be a part of our team and change the way our customers work, play, create, and communicate”.

5. Create advocacy. The most powerful tool you have to create an employer of choice ‘profile’ is your own employee base. Again, Apple does this brilliantly by using testimonials: “If someone was thinking about working in an Apple store, I would tell them to do it. It’s an environment with amazing people and products. You’ll have the time of your life.”

Of course, whether you are an employer of choice or not, you will still need to recruit at some stage, and finding the right people to represent your business is the most essential investment you can make.

What makes a great candidate for your shop floor? I encourage our clients to follow the “Fit Five” principles when looking for superb store staff:

1. The smile. If a person can’t pull off a smile in an interview then they either don’t really want the job or smiling just doesn’t come naturally. Optimism, positivism and happiness go a long way in a people-to-people business.

2. The homework. Always ask them what they know about your company. With a mountain of information on the internet, every applicant should be prepared.

3. The vision. I used to work for a manager who would ask shortlisted applicants to provide feedback on what they saw in a few stores and how they would improve the situation. This is a fantastic way to quickly understand what the applicant actually sees and their structure of approach in response.

4. The achievements. What an applicant has achieved is more important than what they say. Always ask for specific examples of their achievements. Ask them to explain an issue, their action and the solution. Look for facts, figures and how they achieved the solution in their answers.

5. The human being. I like to ask applicants if they can outline a mistake or failure in their career – after all, everyone makes mistakes or has failures (otherwise how are they developing and growing?) Look for humility, what they learnt and how they developed from it.

Remember that it’s one thing getting them and another thing keeping them. As you undertake your employer of choice “fitness” programme, make sure you assess your training and KPI review programmes at every level so that you deliver your promises and retain your greatest assets.

Happy fit retailing.

Brian Walker is the managing director of Australasia’s leading retail consultancy, Retail Doctor Group.


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