Management consultant and author, Peter Drucker, once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” There is so much truth in this statement. Without a productive workplace culture, a business won’t be able to thrive. By focusing on customers and fast service, retailers tend to forget about nourishing the culture within the company. That is a huge mistake.
Culture is one one of your greatest assets. If retailers manage to spot weaknesses in their workplace culture and improve them, productiveness will rise. Consequently, ROI will rise as well.
So, is workplace culture truly that relevant? And if it is, how can you achieve it?
Why is building a workplace culture important?
The values you set up, the attitude towards your employees, the goals, and the relationships within the business all make the company what it is. They are the core of your business and therefore, they are just as important for long-term success as making sales and increasing your profit.
Retailers who set their minds on building a collaborative and productive work culture are more likely to boost the business's performance. Building a workplace culture will also lead to happy and satisfied employees. According to a study conducted by the Social Market Foundation and referenced by Forbes, happy employees can be 20% more productive than unhappy staff, and boost sales by 37%.
Positive work culture will impact your ability as a retailer to attract and retain good employees. The reputation that a good workplace culture creates can be an incredible way of finding great employees.
Despite the common opinion that monetary compensation is enough for retaining workers, the reality is somewhat different. With so many job options out there, people are more determined to find jobs that have a positive workplace culture.
How to Improve the Workplace Culture in Retail Business
Whatever is missing from your workplace culture currently, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed. There is always room for improvement. All that is needed is a will and the right tips to guide you.
1. Your managers need to set an example
Your employees can’t have respect for their manager if they aren’t given a reason to respect them. “The manager is the best salesman and the best co-worker” should be the principle that leads you. They need to be an example of what is expected from your workers.
If your managers don't show understanding and support to your employees, how can they expect that employees express these traits? It all starts at the top. You can support your managers and leaders to get the necessary training that will improve their communication skills.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of Ikea, said, “If there is such a thing as good leadership, it is to give a good example. I have to do so for all the Ikea employees.”
The words of the successful retailer should assure you of the importance of being an exemplary manager and employer.
2. Consider the perspective of others
Succeeding at the expense of others isn't true success. You can improve your workplace culture by understanding the needs of your employees. Instead of focusing solely on the goals and achievements of your business, ensure that employees are content as well. You can accomplish that by considering their perspective.
For example, many retailers aren't very flexible when it comes to work hours. Managers don't want to complicate their job by diversifying the schedule and they disregard the needs of employees. While that’s understandable, it doesn’t make it right.
You only need to consider the below graphic. Research has shown that flexible work hours are one of the most important benefits that a retail store can provide. This means that showing an understanding of the employees' obligations outside of work is a huge contribution to better workplace culture.
Being able to understand other people's needs and behavior is something that the employees should be encouraged to do as well. Teach them that before they react negatively to someone's remark, they should think about the other person's perspective.
3. Involve your employees in different activities
Your employees will show more understanding if they know the exact roles of their fellow colleagues. They will be less judgmental when they understand how every role serves the customer as well as the business as a whole.
That’s why it is worth giving your employees a holistic view of the business. Include them in sales meetings, marketing events, and similar activities where applicable. They should know what your business is all about. The more they know, the more respectful they will be towards their co-workers and managers.
It will also go a long way to helping them to take pride in their work and see its importance in helping your business grow and move forward.
4. Teach your employees how to talk to each other
Without good relationships, any workplace culture won't be able to be as healthy or as productive as it can be. How your employees communicate with each other is a large part of building a workplace culture within your business.
Some of the suggestions you can make to employees include:
- Taking a moment to think before they react;
- Listening actively; and
- Accepting that not every comment or constructive criticism is a personal attack.
It is also worth supporting open communication and having mediated group discussions. For example, if a conflict can't be solved peacefully among your employees, have a one-on-one discussion to calm them down. After that, you can encourage them to talk it out and move on.
5. Encourage teamwork
To create unity within your company and to strengthen teamwork, you should start with defining the values of your company. When employees have an idea of what the purpose of their work is, they will be motivated to come together and deliver that purpose.
Emphasise consistently that teamwork will make you more united, help you nourish better relationships, and ultimately create a workplace where you always have someone to lean on. No one has to be alone in this.
For example, explain to the employees that if they aren’t busy with helping a shopper, they should see if any of the co-workers need help. Again, the best way to demonstrate this is for the leadership and managers to set an example. Store management should give their best to help employees at all times.
Collaborative and productive workplace culture is an environment that is perfect for growing a business. However, it is also one of the biggest challenges for retailers. That’s why having a strategy on how to accomplish that goal is the best foundation. Remember that a company is only as strong as its workplace culture.