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Improving the Morale of Your Employees: One Step at a Time

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We know, through survey results, that motivating employees is very high on the list of challenges faced by retailers. It's no wonder that motivation is very important when you think about the fact that your store employees are meeting your customers every day; representing your brand and your company every day. If your customers are to enjoy a positive shopping experience and be inspired to purchase whatever it is you have to offer it really makes sense that your store employees feel like valued members of your team. They may not necessarily be happy all the time - some things we simply cannot control - but they certainly need to feel properly and fairly treated by their employer. In other words, we don't want them to have negative thoughts toward their employer (or management) just in case those negative thoughts should come across in their words and behavior when interacting with customers.


Experts agree that some elementary requirements of employees (hygiene factors-there are a few categories of these, we are just going to take one-physical or comfort aspect) need to be addressed before actual motivation can take place.


Here is some food for thought regarding some of the Hygiene Factors you may encounter in a retail environment:


Many retail stores, particularly in malls, have very few square feet dedicated as "non-selling" space. Naturally, with the high prices demanded by landlords, retailers want to have maximum square footage available for displaying merchandise for sale. Unfortunately, that means that retail store employees have very few of their hygiene factors taken care of. For example...


Locker or cupboard for personal items: Retail employees cannot keep their personal items with them during their time at work. A woman's purse, for example, must be kept off of the sales floor. A coat, a toothbrush and toothpaste, an extra pair of shoes must also be kept off of the sales floor. The employee should be comfortable knowing his/her personal items are safely stored.


Bathroom on premises: Retail employees often have to use public washrooms that are quite a distance from their workplace.


A place to eat: Some backrooms are too small and too crowded to allow room for a table and chairs so retail employees have to squat on a small stool or perch on the bottom step of a ladder if they do not wish to leave the premises to eat their meal.


A place to store and heat meals: A small fridge and a microwave should be considered basic necessities, and not luxury items as many retail employees prefer to bring their lunch/dinner to work instead of spending precious time getting to a food court where there are not a lot of healthy choices. Packing a lunch is also more economical in most cases.


A water cooler: It costs very little to provide water for associates and a rented water cooler doesn't take up a lot of space. People get thirsty and making pure, cold water available to them should be the norm.


Employees who go to work in, say, an office or a school, a hospital or a manufacturing plant take these things for granted, and rightfully so.


If retailers wanted to take care of some of the missing hygiene factors it could easily be done. In fact, the retail employees themselves have probably given a great deal of thought to how certain things could be done in their own little backrooms. Just ask them for ideas and you will be surprised at what they come up with. Installing a washroom may not be possible, but it is very likely that there is room for a small refrigerator and microwave. A small table, a couple of folding chairs and a water cooler would work wonders.


Providing these things is nothing special, it should be seen as the employer's duty to provide them. Many retailers spend time and money trying to motivate their workforce. Until hygiene factors are taken care of, it's pretty much a waste of that time and money. For the vast majority of employees, motivation comes only after needs are met. has a page on motivation with some high level considerations. You will also find information about a couple of very good books/guides on the subject. You can go there by clicking the following link:

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