High colleague turnover? We look at how knowledge sharing is breaking the trend of short-term retail work

Article by Martyn Jones | 15th March 2021

Staff turnover is inevitable in any industry, but a high turnover rate can cause problems. A recent study found that the average cost of replacing an employee in the UK is £30,000, well over a year’s wages for  many retail colleagues. You are likely to spend over £5,000 just finding a replacement, and that’s before you factor in training costs and loss of productivity. 

A high turnover rate is also bad for customer service. Research shows that it takes up to two years for a new colleague to reach full proficiency. In the meantime, customers may be given incorrect information, or be left waiting while newer colleagues search for someone who can help. 

Our recent survey of customers found that a lack of knowledge amongst colleagues is a major turn-off:

  • 82% of customers have been in a situation where they felt they knew more about a product than a colleague.
  • 12% of shoppers say that a lack of knowledge amongst colleagues is their top frustration.
  • 21% of shoppers would leave the store to do their own research if a colleague couldn’t help them.

Read the full report here

A 2018 survey found that the average staff turnover rate in UK retail is 8.8%. This is considerably higher than many other industries, and the figure is likely to have increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Of course, high turnover rates are to be expected in retail. Young people often take part-time jobs in the industry while studying or during a gap year. However, there is still room for improvement. Last year we surveyed retail colleagues about their long term plans. We found that 96% of retail colleagues didn’t want to work in the industry indefinitely, while 50% wanted to leave within three years.

Although 71% said that they were satisfied with their current role, many had frustrations that were preventing them from seeing it as a long term prospect:

  • 21% felt unable to answer customer queries.
  • 47% wanted to be able to communicate more clearly with colleagues.
  • 28% felt there was a lack of career progression.
  • 42% wanted better training and career development opportunities.

What do consumers want after the pandemic?

Download our latest report below to find.

Knowledge is power

These two surveys show that retail is locked in a vicious cycle. Newer colleagues struggle to answer customer queries and this leads to a high staff turnover rate. This in turn leads to fewer experienced colleagues on the shop floor, making it even harder to answer customer queries. The answer is better communication and easier access to knowledge. This is where VoCoVo can help. 

With VoCoVo you can take a two-pronged approach to knowledge sharing. Day to day, our products allow for fast and effective communication between colleagues:

  • Headsets put every colleague within reach. Newer colleagues can ask for information and advice at the push of a button. 
  • Call Points allow customers to ask for help without tracking down a colleague. Colleagues can answer via their headsets and, if they are unable to help, can transfer the customer to another colleague. 
  • Keypads allow checkout colleagues to call for help without leaving their position. 

At the same time, our products can be used to improve training practices (link to A44a), raising the overall level of knowledge in your store:

  • Headsets allow you to provide on the job training. New hires can shadow more experienced colleagues while they work. This allows you to train colleagues without removing staff from the shop floor. 
  • You can set personalised voice reminders to play through headsets. This allows you to remind newer colleagues of their tasks in a non-intrusive way. 
  • You can provide informal refresher training via headsets. This may be better for morale than taking a colleague off the floor to retrain them. 

Better training shows colleagues that they are valued, making them more likely to stick around. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that effective onboarding makes colleagues 69% more likely to stay with a company for over three years. This is especially true of younger people. 60% of millennials say that training and development are extremely important when looking for a job.  

By improving day to day communication and offering more effective training, you can create a team of knowledgeable colleagues who take pride in their work. The effect on customer service will be immediate, and an improved staff turnover rate won’t be far behind. 

Get in touch today for more tips on making the most of VoCoVo.

Stay connected

Connect with the author Martyn Jones