This guest blog was contributed by Deputy, experts in employee scheduling software.
When we say motivation in retail and holiday season, the natural first association is how to keep your employees motivated during the end of year rush and not letting them succumb to the stress of increased sales and tight deadlines.
However, that’s not what we’re talking about today.
Instead, we will be focusing on the days after the stress is over and how to keep your team's spirits and energies high after what they have just been through. Read on.
According to science, people are motivated by "carrots and sticks”, i.e. they want to move towards pleasure and avoid pain.
This premise is used by a lot of companies when setting up reward systems. Good results, behaviors and mindsets are rewarded via carrots, and poor results, failures and a lack of commitment are punished by the proverbial sticks.
However, there is more to motivation than the simple pleasure vs. pain principle - and it’s highly individual.
When looking to motivate your retail staff, you need to go beyond the simple 'reward good behavior and punish failures and mistakes' principle.
All of your retail workers are individuals. They each come to work looking for different things and want different experiences out of their jobs. Some will be driven by praise, while others won't need to hear it but would rather get an extra day off.
Learn what makes your employees tick and what it is that will get them to go the extra mile. The best way to do this is to ask them, one-on-one, and in a no pressure situation where they can be honest and outright.
Setting new goals
However, there are some things you can do on a group level that will boost morale and motivation all around. When you’re looking to boost the performance of your employees, the best place to start is by setting a new set of goals for the new season.
Once the stress of the holiday season is over, it will be time to adjust sales goals to new standards. What sorts of numbers can you hope to achieve next quarter?
Make sure you’re dealing with realistic expectations. Even if the holiday season is a huge success, don’t expect your staff to replicate those numbers out of season. Talk to your team and see what they themselves would like to see in terms of sales.
Don’t forget to also set team and individual goals at this point. As you will all have more time to think, you can consider what it is you want to achieve - and start working towards these new goals.
Having something to work towards is a great motivator to the devoted and engaged employee. They will want to work on achieving something they have helped set so keep that in mind.
Ironing out the kinks
Post-holiday season is also a great time to learn and fix everything that may not be going smoothly in your store, specifically based on the holiday season, a time when all of the flaws have a tendency to rear their heads.
Is there a way to improve store layout? Can you manage storage differently? Is there a better way to label or ship products?
How well organized are your people? How do they communicate and where does the communication break down? Is it interpersonal or is there a flaw in the system as a whole?
How are breaks managed? Can you find a way to schedule shifts better?
This is the right time to try out scheduling software, robust back office systems and a modern point of sale, rather than before or in the middle of a rush. You will have plenty of time to understand how each of the systems work and get everyone onboard.
Leading by example
Don’t forget that you need to be the one showing your team you are still in it with them as well – no matter how the holiday season goes.
As a team leader or manager, you’re likely at the end of your strengths as well. And while taking a couple of days or a week off sounds like a great idea, don’t do it just because you can. Your team can’t, so you need to show them how you’re surviving.
Self-care is a great tool at this point and one that you can also teach your team. Give yourself an early day once a week and do the same for the team. Exercise and move more and make it a point to eat healthy. You can organize a group activity or organize meal prep for the week.
Take the time to unwind while you are away from work and do whatever works best for you in terms of de-stressing. Then have a meeting with your staff, and encourage them to do the same, talking about the importance of mental health and recuperation.
Celebrate it’s over
Finally, something else you can do for your staff after the holidays is throw a celebration: a party, a lunch, an outing, a team building activity, something all of you will enjoy.
Remember, this is not a holiday party – this is your way of saying: "Thank you for being here at this time of year when working in retail is on the verge of a nightmare."
Even if the holidays don't go as planned, if it’s no fault of your team, try to reward them as a whole, and let them know they are in fact appreciated. It will help them go into the next quarter a little lighter.