In my opinion: when you need extra help – how to manage part-time retail workers

By Rob Press, content marketing manager at workforce scheduling software specialist Deputy

Press: part-time workers can benefit the bottom line

Managing retail staff is a specialised skill in itself – what then of part-time retail staff? Part-time employees form a sizable part of the workforce, they offer companies cost-effective solutions, a greater pool of candidates, and seasonal support. However, there are some challenges in managing part-time workers – increased potential for inconsistent work, and lack of face time, to name a few.  

Companies often require particular individuals with personalities that resonate with their brands. Add to this any specific skill set required, training costs, and employee retention issues and the situation becomes far more complex.  

Part-time workers often represent the company since they are at the front line of interaction with consumers and their ability to be effective is of utmost importance to any retailer. Here are four key management strategies that will help you to ensure that part-time employees quickly integrate and function optimally within your retail business. 

  1. Foster a feeling of belonging 

Give your part-time staff their own locker, common area, or workspace – this creates continuity in outputs and increases productivity, for example, in retail call centres. In a retail store, a locker demonstrates to your part-time employee that they have a fixed place. Workers that have no designated space fail to anchor themselves in the day’s activities and get down to business.

Orientation is your way of welcoming employees. Besides a tour of the building and the company’s story, be sure to make a few introductions to key staff members. Link your new staff member to a “buddy” on the same level of operations as they are. This will allow them to mirror a trusted staff member as well as have a person to ask basic questions. 

Integration into your brand-specific environment through effective onboarding brings confidence and efficiency. Your part-time retail staff need to integrate with your brand, your sales team, as well as your customers’ expectations and needs. 

This introduces your part-time staff member to organisational matters of how you like to work and operate. It includes technical matters of acquiring new skills, like proficiency in using your point of sales software. At the same time, it also covers social matters of unity and cooperation between your workers, which is essential to smooth operations and synergy. 

  1. Training  boosts retail outcomes

Initial training to acclimatise staff to their role within the store is vital, but what of deeper levels of training?  In larger retail companies workers may be restricted to specific departments or areas of activity. This is common in your DIY stores and Health and Beauty stores. Although there are costs involved in training individuals, the risks will be offset by improved customer satisfaction. Well prepared retail personnel gives buyers confidence in your brand. Staff competency lends itself directly to increases in sales revenue.

You have to establish well-defined team roles and responsibilities – errors and conflicts can often arise from blurred boundaries regarding their duties. Employees are more confident and effective when equipped with knowledge of specifics relating to their activities.

Another tip to try is to enable and empower employees to serve customers’ needs – basic sales training, in many instances, is beneficial in any retail company. Workers may need further specialised product training on niche or high-end stock items with particular specifications and some of your suppliers may even offer training for their products. 

Technical skills, product knowledge, and demos improve the customers’ experience and confidence in your products.  Another training idea is roleplay, it serves as a fun way to keep part-time staff learning about your products and sharpening their skills in customer service.

  1. Retail management is integral to seamless operations

Staff are proven to be more content and productive when well managed and drafting a work handbook can go a long way toward eliminating tedious and repetitive management tasks that can make the work environment intolerable. With these guidelines in place, which serve as a foundation for operations, managers can focus on matters that affect sales directly. The management of your part-time retail workers is key to either delivering or failing to deliver brand integrity and customer satisfaction.

An open-door policy to facilitate good communication is essential in coordinating retail staff operations. Clear and open communications assists in unifying your workforce and troubleshooting issues as they arise.  

Employee task and time management can be effortless by using comprehensive employee scheduling software, and it’s a great way to keep staff informed and facilitate the highest productivity. One typical challenge when delegating activities or communicating rota changes to individual members of the same task force or team is the manager to staff ratio

Managers regularly need employee engagement training to hone their people skills. Their activities can oftentimes exclusively revolve around stock control and sales figures which makes it easy to overlook the need to develop the soft skills that will help them steer operations smoothly. 

Your retail managers are integrating operations objectives with people’s personal needs, work-life balance issues, their respective individualities, and similar variables – which can be extremely challenging. Employee engagement strategies offer managers of part-time retail staff the means through which they can bridge the reasonable needs of the staff with the expected outcomes of the retail company.

  1. Rewards systems and recognition maximise dedication

Incentivising goals and recognising personal milestones make employees feel valued. You should set out challenging (but reachable) milestones for your retail employees to conquer – they can be based on retail objectives or rely on positive customer feedback. When targets are reached, the rewards can take the form of commission, perks, or even liberal employee sales discounts. 

Periodic appraisals of performance boost motivation amongst sales teams and individuals. Basic sales statistics over a given period can offer an overview of performance that is otherwise hidden from your retail staff. A few relevant comments, observations and encouragement can be added without much fuss and serve as a motivating factor for your part-time retail staff.  

Managers can achieve a lot of momentum simply by scheduling brief performance review meetings at suitable intervals. Keep in mind that these appraisals can be for teams or individuals alike. Employers can also use these appraisals to schedule further training and/or troubleshoot potential issues and avoid wasted expenditure. 

Summing up

Part-time retail workers are often the vibrant, self-motivated, go-getters that retail business owners are looking for. By using these tailored management directives, retailers can harness the benefits they offer the company. If used effectively, these few considerations reflect directly on productivity, customer satisfaction, and therefore on the bottom line.

About the author: Rob Press

Rob is a content marketing manager at Deputy, a robust scheduling software that can be used to manage your workforce in a wide variety of different industries. Aside from helping businesses reach operational efficiency, he keeps up to date with the latest trends in SaaS, B2B, and technology in general.