Never Mind The Quantity, Look At The Quality.

We have arrived at a time in the cycle where employment is high or, to put it another way, it’s hard to find more retail staff.

Retailers everywhere are screaming out for more staff.

But what if I told you that most retailers actually have more than enough employee numbers?

During a career of over 25 years consulting to retail operators all over the world I can honestly say the issue lies not in how many people it takes to makes the business work but who it takes. The majority of retailers set their expectations of people too low and hire “warm bodies to fill holes”. They also all fish from the same stream meaning they reinforce this paradigm by hiring the same sort of people from the same source.

You know from your own business that one good person can achieve the productive output of ten ordinary ones. Yes there are functional imperatives like opening hours and geographic coverage (to name but a few) that mean there are minimum numbers of people needed to run the business.

You also know that one bad staff member needs over-managing to overcome the issues they create. They inevitably cost you in lost time, lost morale, lost sales and lost profits. Sometimes this can also come from someone who – in the short term – looks to be very successful on paper.

When vacancies happen most retailers react to panic and try to fill the job as quickly as possible. They convince themselves that they have to fill the job and that it is “hard to get good people”. Rubbish.

There are a lot of good people out there doing jobs they don’t enjoy because of the people they work with and the way they are treated and rewarded. If you haven’t made a conscious effort to create a “great place to work” environment, you may find many of your good people are in this boat also. While it may sound like theoretical clap-trap the reality is you are better going without a staff member than hiring the wrong person because the damage they can do both to your staff relationships and your customer relationships is huge and often not obvious.

Take the time to work out what you really need. Interview people firstly on their values. Find good people and lure them to a “better place to work”. Treat them and reward them well. Once you have created a truly great place to work, your staff will begin recruiting their family, friends and peers for you.

20 good people can create a better result than 200 bad ones. 200 bad ones in a workforce of 1,000 can destroy a business as the good staff and valuable customers leave in the wake of having to deal with them. Find out who your good apples are. Work up a plan to keep them and develop them. Find out who your bad apples are. Work out a plan to manage them out of the business. Never mind the quantity, it’s the quality that counts.