Hiring Frontline Employees? Here's How to Reduce Employee Turnover

October 10, 2018 - 6 minute read

You can’t eliminate employee turnover completely, but it's becoming easier to manage your business against it. Really...? Despite employed millennials hopping around more than people in an 80's workout video, you say? Yes, really. And it's all in the engagement digital tooling that will help you keep up.

How much does employee turnover cost? 

The employee replacement cost of a supermarket cashier is $3,637. With the average employee turnover rate amongst grocers hovering near 50%, this costs a minimum of $67,000 a year. And higher still, general retail employee turnover rates are an average of 59%. 

These are costs that companies cannot afford. Across the supermarket industry, employee turnover costs are an astounding 40% greater than profits. With supermarkets in the negative month after month, it’s no mystery why stores go out of business. Sadly, this trend is seen across many service industries. 

Low employee retention leading to higher employee turnover and absenteeism

Previously, it was commonplace to think that workers quit simply because the pay or insurance coverage wasn’t enough. Today however, we know the formula for staying at a job is more holistic.

With this knowledge, why are non-desk employers still subjected to death by employee turnover? Though non-desk workers are seen as more "temporary" than desk workers, there's no reason for this outdated thinking. If you plan ahead, cultivating your frontline workforce can greatly impact employee retention, saving you significant cash. 

Why desk-centric companies have higher employee retention 

The difference in whether an employee stays or leaves is no longer just about salary, but about belonging. Today, more desk employers than ever have had the employee experience "aha!" moment. Companies with desk employees are running more stand-ups, work events, and general communication than ever before. Why? One facilitating component is the ease in rallying your troops if you have a common office space. This provides desk-heavy companies with a huge advantage in providing a holistic employee experience. Having a common physical space houses your culture, promoting feelings of validation, community, access to management and feedback. 

What drives employee retention in a frontline workforce 

Communicating your culture and appreciation in a desk-less company is admittedly more challenging. There’s seldom a physical space that all your temporary and part-time frontline employees occupy at the same time. Without a consistent physical space for communication and transfer of culture, you have to use an alternative “space”. This "space" is critical for letting your non-desk workers know that they belong.

Connect with your frontline employees to reduce turnover

How digital tooling lowers absenteeism and turnover

After years of research into employee pain points, technology has caught up to help alleviate work-related grievances. When asked what matters most to convenience retail employees, these four employee engagement drivers stand out; company concern for well-being, opportunity to use personal strengths, clear expectations and encouragement to find better ways of work. By providing a digital place for sharing, technology is filing the "shared space" dilemma, driving behavior that directly contributes to fulfilling these four drivers. This is welcomed news for frontline companies, as being dispersed is no longer an obstacle in providing a connected and culture-driven environment.

Which frontline companies are leading in employee retention? 

Who's taking these employee engagement drivers to heart? Take a look at the major American grocery store chain, Trader Joe's. Whereas providing a decent salary and insurance coverage used to be seen as a luxury, these days it is bare minimum in winning the war on employee retention. On top of surpassing these basic living standards, Trader Joe's makes sure to hire employees that share company values. This is followed by heavily imparting these values into work life through training and feedback loops, including the show of appreciation. The shared sense of community, across all Trader Joe's locations, is palpable.

Supermarket chain Wegman's is also leading the pack in employee retention. In addition to competitive wages, their turnover rate of just 7% is attributed to high levels of employee autonomy around decision making. Making employees feel valued during decisions contributes to a sense of belonging in a shared space. Providing technological tools for non-desk employees to do their jobs enables them this degree of autonomy, previously unthinkable.

How you can increase your employee retention

When companies critically evaluate and invest in culture, technological tools, and space, they experience 40% lower employee turnover. And now that technological tools can act as this space, lacking a physical hub for all employees is no longer the obstacle it once was to running a well-connected business. 

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Campbell Owens

Written by Campbell Owens

Challenging conventional corporate practices, Campbell explores what it means to truly invest in people at work. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio of the art, yoga, or apartment variety.