Motivating your staff for a more profitable business

“Our staff are our most important asset.” It’s something of a cliché that business owners use frequently, be they Fortune 500 heavyweights or small retailers with a couple of employees. Although the talk is often talked, the actions don’t always follow through.

It’s not that owners don’t genuinely appreciate their staff... it’s simply that, in the busy schedule of running a business, their needs can easily be overlooked. It’s not unlike remembering to find quality time for your children in a busy schedule – the only difference is your children normally don’t leave! But your employees can and do, and it’s not until they resign that you realize how they weren’t being satisfied, or sometimes, how much you valued their contribution.

Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot to keep a staff member happy. There have been scores of surveys that have shown money is not the main motivator for an employee – it’s normally recognition that rates the highest, along with a good working environment.

Yet, despite the fact that recognition rates so importantly on the scale of things, just under half of all retailers in a recent poll offered any sort of incentive or rewards for their staff to recognize a job well done.

This sounds like a worrying gap – when recognition rates so highly, yet few retailers do it, then you have grounds for dissatisfied employees. Sure there are many out there who take time to say a few good words when a job is well done, but there are a disturbing number who don’t.

Like it or not, effective staff management is a key part of any store owner’s job. Comments such as, “I’m not good with staff,” are not going to be an acceptable excuse – and you run the risk of losing good employees to other retailers who will recognize their efforts.

So what can be implemented to recognize employees in a fun and consistent manner?

Team based rewards are always a strong motivator and prevent any contentious issues as to who’s done the hard work. Having two or three different fun incentives during a month can make all the difference to team striving and morale.

Take your pick from any of the following:

  • Run a competition with another store for the most number of sales over $500/$1000 during a month. Make sure each store contacts the other (fax is still ideal) when they make a sale so a tally can be kept and the winner determined. Decide what the loser will “pay” the winner, but it must be something that can be shared (if you have another store of your own in the same city the losers may have to do something for the winners!) If you have picked a store which normally achieves a higher average sale you can introduce a handicap system – the store who wins now has to achieve an average $100 higher (e.g. $600/$1100) while the first store keeps the same target. If they win again it goes up another $100 but if they lose it can come back down to the previous level.
  • The highest sale for the day wins a $20/$50/$100 note is an old one that works well. The note gets passed around for the day as each person tops the previous highest sale for the day and the winner is the highest sale at days end.
  • Talk to vendors about incentives they may have. Many offer free product incentives and would be happy to work with you to sell more of their product – a win/win for everyone.
  • Treat the staff to a well earned massage – especially after hectic times of the year such as December or storewide sales.
  • Have a team event like a meal out or go bowling together. These can be tied to achieving sales targets for the month.

None of these ideas are game changers by themselves – but nor are they difficult to implement, and the impact on morale from a regular program of rewards can be significant. Take the time to set up two or three fun rewards for your staff and enjoy the benefits in increased motivation and happier employees.

David Brown is President of the Edge Retail Academy, an organization devoted to the ongoing measurement and growth of jewelry store performance and profitability. For further information about the Academy’s management mentoring and industry benchmarking reports contact Carol Druan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 877-569-8657.