Low-Cost Perks and Staff Incentives for Retailers

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In order to provide the "above and beyond" type of customer service that a retail store needs to deliver in order to be successful, it must begin by creating happy employees.

Retailers that develop long-term incentives, perks and rewards for their staff often see the benefits of less employee turnover and better customer service. This is a combination which can lead to an increase in sales.

Motivational speakers, extra staff development, and monetary incentives like paid health coverage are typical for corporations, but what about retailers? What perks can a brick and mortar retailer offer employees? What perks are available that don't cost as much as the ones big corporations use?

Hot Topic, a chain store for music-related apparel, reimburses employees for concert tickets. According to the retailer, the shows provide important market research. To qualify for reimbursement, the employee must submit a report on the fashions the band and the fans were wearing.

The cost of instituting most perks is a relatively small outlay compared to what may be received by creating a happy workforce. Consider the following low-cost perks, they're perfect for any retailer, large or small.

Discounts on Merchandise

This perk may be the easiest for a retailer to establish. Offer workers a percentage off on any product you sell.

This is always popular because it gets the store's merchandise on the employee or in their lives. There's no better way to get an employee talking about your products than to have them using them. 

Company Parties

Holidays, inventory, or exceeding sales goals are all good times to throw a party. Plan the party away from the store or host a small gathering in the break room. But the key is CELEBRATE!

Always have a rhythm of celebrating your employees and make sure it's not always just about sales. Remember, your customer service and the customer experience are as important if not more than a sale. 

Personal Time

Show your generosity by allowing parents off work when school is out for teacher in-service or other holidays. Every employee has important events going on in their life, so do your best to accommodate those (within reason, of course).

This is one of the benefits of the retail business because, through careful scheduling, you can almost always find someone to cover a shift. Personal days off shouldn't be confused with vacation time.

Event Tickets

Businesses often receive promotional discounts on shows, sporting events, and even movie tickets from other businesses. Give these event tickets to your staff as rewards or incentives for meeting sales goals.

Free Food

Who doesn't like to eat? This favorite low-cost perk can be as simple as bringing in donuts, or bagels, a few times each month. Some retailers even buy lunch every Friday for scheduled staff. Free food in the breakroom is always appreciated!

Time off for Charity

Providing time off for staff to participate in charity events not only shows goodwill towards workers, but it also helps build community involvement.

If there's a charity near and dear to your own heart, consider coordinating an event for all employees when the store's closed or on a slow morning when minimal staff can run things.

Breakroom Entertainment

Give your employees some sort of entertainment so they can really relax during their breaks. Retail can be stressful at times and this is a great way to let them unwind.

If you don't have the room (or the budget) to put a pool table in the breakroom, consider a television set with DVD player or video streaming device. Or at the very least, free Wi-Fi for their personal devices.

Random Acts of Kindness

Not all perks need to be planned. A simple recognition of a job well-done can go far in improving employee morale.

Make the Schedule

Consider letting the top service employee make the schedule for the rest of the team. It ensures that this person gets the days they want off and, in turn, it motivates him or her to keep getting better. 

Never Schedule Close to Open

This is a simple one. Try not to schedule your employees to close the store and then open it the very next morning. While it's not possible to do this all the time, be aware and know that the employee's brain needs a mental break. 

Just Be Sure to Give Them What They Really Want

As you create benefits and perks for your staff, be sure they are relevant and appropriate for your staff.

You may feel that you're being generous when you buy pizza for employees staying late the night before inventory, but they may not see it that way. An extra day off or allowing the worker to come in later one day may be a better goodwill offering instead.

The best way to know what your staff would prefer is to simply ask them. Make a point during the next store meeting to take ideas and suggestions for perks they would like to receive. You may be surprised to learn that it's some simple thing you can easily implement in your retail shop.