Your retail business hinges on your team. Ask any small business owner, and they’ll likely say the biggest hurdle is retail recruitment, employee retention, and keeping them motivated.

This chapter will help you discover and nurture exceptional retail employees. Learn the signs to watch for and understand when it’s necessary to part ways with an employee.

Hiring challenges in the retail industry

High turnover rate

The retail industry has many workers, but keeping them is a significant issue. McKinsey found that in the US, people quit retail and hospitality jobs 70 percent more often than jobs in general.

If you’re running a retail store, this means spending more money and time on retail recruitment and training new people regularly. Plus, the constant movement of staff can leave your store short-staffed, hurting customer service and the smooth running of things.

Hiring the right candidates

Retail jobs are changing because of technology and how people shop. According to Indeed, 70% of retail employers have difficulty finding in-store staff who know how to use new tech, and 82% find hiring people with diverse skills in different areas challenging. 

While retail positions traditionally welcome diverse educational backgrounds, today’s candidates must possess digital skills, technological adaptability, and strong communication abilities to avoid a bad hire. 

Meeting seasonal demands

In retail, especially during busy seasons like holidays or fashion events, the demand for staff can shoot up suddenly. Managing staff levels during these periods can be challenging.

During these peak times, it’s crucial to be ready for “high volume hiring,” meaning bringing in several new retail employees simultaneously. However, because everyone’s searching for extra hands, you’ll need to make your job offers stand out to attract and keep the best people.

Retail recruitment process

Flowchart for the retail recruitment process.

1. Advertise your vacancy

When you’re on your retail recruitment process, be crystal clear in your job ads. Spell out the role, expectations, and necessary qualifications. Make your job description appealing by highlighting the benefits of working at your retail store.

When advertising, pick the right platforms:

Traditional print ads

Traditional newspaper ads still work well, especially for local audiences. Make your ads stand out with catchy headlines to grab attention and encourage people to learn more about the job.

Remember that responses might not be immediate. Be patient and give potential candidates time to notice and respond to your newspaper ads.

Recruitment agencies

Contact specialized retail recruitment agencies for fast results when hiring for your retail business. If budget is a concern, explore free state employment services.

While private employment and temp services are handy, they often charge a fee, typically around 20% of the employee’s wage or the first month’s salary. These costs may fluctuate based on the job market and required skills.

Help wanted signs

Boost your retail recruitment success by putting up a simple “Help Wanted” sign in your store or at the checkout. 

Keep your current staff in the loop about the open position, explaining its impact on their roles, and encourage them to share job info when asked.

Online job boards

Utilize popular online job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, or industry-specific platforms. These platforms broaden your reach beyond your local area, allowing you to tap into a wider pool of potential candidates. Craft a compelling job description to stand out among other listings.

Social media

Leverage your store’s social media accounts to announce job openings. It reaches your existing followers, who may already be familiar with and supportive of your brand. Encourage employees to share the posts, extending your reach through their networks.

Your own employees

Tap into your current team’s network; they might know others in the retail world who’d be a great addition. Start a referral program to motivate your team to suggest qualified candidates, fostering stronger team bonds and loyalty.

2. Filtering applications

Once you’ve got a list of possible candidates, the next step is to check their applications and resumes. It helps you filter out the ones that don’t fit so you can focus on interviewing the standout candidates.

Create a shortlist of candidates whose skills and experience match the job requirements. Organize applications by prioritizing candidates with job-specific skills, relevant experience, suitable educational backgrounds, and proximity to the workplace.

3. Interviewing candidates

Set up interviews with the candidates you’re interested in. Have a list of standard questions ready to ask about their skills, experience, and how well they fit into your business culture.

Conduct one-on-one and, if needed, group interviews to see how well candidates communicate and work in a team. Consider including practical tasks or role-playing situations related to the retail setting.

Having trouble coming up with interview questions for your retail business? Here are some examples to get you started:

  • How do you manage challenging customer situations?
  • Share a specific example of transforming a customer complaint into a positive experience.
  • What is your relevant experience in the retail industry?
  • How comfortable are you using point-of-sale systems?
  • What strengths or skills do you bring to our company?
  • Can you identify any weaknesses you have?
  • Describe how you prioritize and handle multiple tasks during a busy day.
  • Are you open to working weekends and holidays?
  • What knowledge do you have about our store and the products we sell?

4. Making a decision

After each interview, assess how sound candidates performed in interviews and assessments. Look at how well they fit into the company culture, enthusiasm, and potential for growth. 

Get feedback from team members or managers in retail recruitment. Their involvement helps make informed decisions about who will be the best fit for your retail business.

5. Run a background check

According to the Society of Human Resources Management, more than half of job applications (53%) have incorrect details. 

After choosing your top candidate, check their background for accurate work history, criminal records, and other essential info. Be sure to follow local laws and rules for background checks.

6. Offering the position

Get in touch with your chosen candidate and offer them the job officially. Be clear about the job responsibilities, time off policy, salary, and benefits so they can sort out any issues before they start. 

Tell them their performance reviews will depend on this information and future changes. Remember to give them a deadline to say yes or no to the offer.

7. Dealing with payroll

Once your new hire agrees to join, kick off their onboarding immediately. Get their paperwork, like tax forms and direct deposit information. 

Tell them the start date, training plan, and other important information. Keep it straightforward for a smooth onboarding experience. You can simplify this process using HRIS software with onboarding and payroll capabilities.

Investing in your employees

Now that you’ve hired your team, focus on helping them grow. Good habits among retail employees are crucial, but watch out for any harmful ones.

As a retail owner, keeping your team performing and working together well is critical. Motivate them by meeting their needs, reminding them of your business’s goals, fostering honesty, and ensuring fair treatment

Keep them motivated

Basic needs like employment and money drive people. Once fulfilled, higher needs, such as belonging and self-esteem, are prioritized.

According to a Gartner survey, 82% of employees value being recognized as individuals by their employers. They seek respect from peers, coworkers, customers, and bosses, wanting to know that their contributions matter. Treat your employees respectfully, acknowledging their efforts to boost their morale and job satisfaction.

Train your employees

Regularly train your retail employees to refine existing skills and acquire new ones. Develop a structured training program based on job descriptions, ensuring all staff meet your store’s standards during a designated probation period.

Encourage your team to acquire extra skills that enhance their employability. Despite the risk of losing some employees to competitors, investing in skill development ensures a more profitable workforce for your business.

Get retail employee training from these sources:

  • Online Learning Platforms: Visit LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, and Coursera for courses that boost your team’s skills.
  • Industry Associations: Explore associations in your field for tailored resources that fit your business.
  • Free Resources: Use platforms like YouTube for cost-effective tutorials, podcasts, and articles.
  • In-House Expertise: Tap into your team’s knowledge to create personalized training materials for your retail business.

Ensure work integrity

In your retail business, integrity means having good character traits and work ethics like sound judgment, honesty, dependability, and loyalty.

To ensure integrity among your team, be sure to:

  • Communicate Clearly: Share your company values and clearly communicate expectations about ethical behavior to your team.
  • Establish a Code of Conduct: Establish a robust code of conduct that everyone on your team must follow.
  • Enforce the Code: Ensure every team member adheres to the established code of conduct.
  • Address Issues Promptly: Tackle ethical issues swiftly and openly to maintain a trusting workplace environment.

Treat employees fairly

Unfair treatment can come from all directions — employers, customers, family, friends, or even strangers. While fairness might be subjective, it matters greatly to the person experiencing it.

Given the inherent challenges, retail business owners and managers must go the extra mile to ensure fairness for everyone involved. This commitment enhances your team and results in happy customers and greater personal satisfaction in your role as a retailer.

Signs it’s time to let an employee go

Performance is consistently poor

If someone on your team consistently falls short despite feedback and opportunities to improve, they might not be the right fit for the job, impacting your whole team and business.

In cases of ongoing performance issues, it’s common to provide warnings and reminders. But, if you’ve been given a chance, implemented a performance improvement plan, and things haven’t improved, it could be the moment to consider parting ways with that employee.

Misalignment with company values

For a smooth workplace, your retail employees must share the same values as your business. If someone consistently goes against your company’s principles, it can cause problems in the team.

Before letting them go, try talking to the employee and see if training or communication can fix the issue. If it doesn’t work and their behavior keeps causing trouble, it might be best to part ways to keep an optimistic and united work environment.

Constant customer complaints

In retail, keeping customers happy is vital. If an employee gets customer complaints because of lousy service or other problems, it can hurt your store’s reputation and make customers go elsewhere.

Look into why customers complain first, and try to train or guide the employee to improve. If the issues continue and it’s hurting how customers feel about your business, you might have to let that employee go to keep your store’s reputation and customer satisfaction up.

Lack of accountability

In a retail business, if someone keeps avoiding responsibility, making excuses, or blaming others, it messes up the teamwork and slows down the whole business. 

To fix this, set clear rules about taking responsibility and let everyone know what happens if they don’t follow through. If someone still doesn’t step up, you might need to let them go to keep the team strong and everyone doing their best.

Behavioral issues

Consistent disruptive or unprofessional behavior, like disrespectful communication or conflicts with colleagues, can harm your team. To keep a healthy work environment, address these behavioral issues and address them promptly.

However, firing may be necessary if the bad behavior continues and affects the team. Keep records of the behavior to support your decision and avoid legal issues.


Small business owners often grapple with retail recruitment and employee retention. The process of finding the right candidate can be both time-consuming and challenging.

Consider using modern software to make retail recruitment and payroll smoother. A centralized system for managing applicants will help you review candidates faster and make better hiring choices, boosting overall efficiency.

In the next chapter, we’ll delve into intelligent store management strategies to steer your retail business in the right direction.


Ramsey, D., & Ramsey, J. (2010). The Everything Guide to starting and running a retail store: All you need to get started and succeed in your own retail adventure. Adams Media.

Impact Insight Team

Impact Insights Team is a group of professionals comprising individuals with expertise and experience in various aspects of business. Together, we are committed to providing in-depth insights and valuable understanding on a variety of business-related topics & industry trends to help companies achieve their goals.

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