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8 out of 10 Would Not Recommend Their Employer

Thu 23 June 2011

As many as 84 per cent of retail employees would not recommend their current company as a place of work, new research from Retail Eyes and the Retail Gazette reveals.

The Retail Eyes & Retail Gazette Salary Survey 2011 released today, shows that 53 per cent of workers in the retail industry were detractors of their current company as an employer, 31 per cent were passive and only 16 per cent were promoters.

At a time of subdued consumer spending it seems that retail employees are beginning to feel disillusioned with their working life, which is a major challenge for management teams as they try to reinvigorate their businesses.

In a survey of over 1,000 retail professionals in the UK, 41 per cent said they were now less content in their work then when it was announced that the UK had officially left recession in January 2010.

Editor for Retail Gazette, Ben Sillitoe, warned that this should be a wakeup call for retail bosses nationwide, reminding them that they need to work hard to enthuse and motivate their employees during these financially difficult times.

Sillitoe said: “Embattled retailers are rightly keeping their eyes on the bottom line, but they need to make sure that the way they treat and reward staff is not contributing to their struggles in the first place.”

The survey shows that 36 per cent of respondents had a worse opinion of their company then at the end of recession, but, with answers heavily determined by the sector people worked in, almost the same amount (32 per cent) had an improved perception of their company.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, those companies operating in areas of the industry which are showing the strongest growth are the ones with employees who have the most improved contentment levels and whose opinion of their employers is growing.

E-tail & Multichannel workers showed the biggest increase in contentment in the 16 months to April 2011, with 44 per cent saying that they were more content, whilst only 27 per cent said their opinion of their company had got worse.

In comparison Home & DIY employees were most likely to view their company in a negative light, with 43 per cent saying their opinion had declined over the period and 54 per cent said they were less content.

Tim Ogle, CEO at Retail Eyes, said: “The results of this survey will undoubtedly be cause for concern for retailers. An employee’s likelihood to recommend their employer, or lack of, as a place to work has far reaching consequences for businesses and not just in terms of future recruitment.

Unhappy or dissatisfied staff are far more likely to give a lower level of service and less likely to go the extra mile for customers. The tough economic climate means this must be of concern to retailers as they need their staff to be doing everything in their power to ensure customers receive the very best service and experience to attract and maintain customer loyalty.”

Sillitoe added: “It is evident that the two-tier retail market which emerged during the recession has continued into this year with the E-tail & Multichannel sector leading the way but big ticket sellers like Home & DIY and Electricals specialists struggling for sales in a highly competitive, slow growth market, and this is reflected in the moods of the survey respondents.”

Geographically, those working in the north-west and midlands areas of England saw the biggest fall in contentment during the period, with 45 per cent and 47 per cent respectively saying they felt less content, whilst a huge 76 per cent of those working in the former felt less secure in their jobs.

Ogle concluded: “It can sometimes be too easy for retailers to slip into the mindset of thinking ‘employees should feel lucky they have a job given our current economic situation’. Whether employees are customer facing or not, the way every individual in a business feels about their place of work will ultimately have an impact on the customer.   

It is vital retailers invest in making sure they understand how engaged their employees are with their businesses along with what can be done to further this engagement. Retailers can do this through regular employee engagement surveys and making sure they have open communication channels and as a result, will help towards ensuring employees feel confident and positive about their employer. This in turn will lead to a much more positive customer experience and likelihood to return in the future and spread positive word or mouth.”

Article written by Jon Whiteaker