Frontline retail workers are the backbone of any successful retail business, and their performance and well-being are critical to its success. However, high levels of stress and demanding workloads can often lead to burnout, which can negatively impact both the employee and the business. In an Employee Burnout study, Gallup found that burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 160% more likely to seek a different job.
Therefore, retail managers must implement effective strategies to help their frontline retail teams avoid burnout. Learn more about the techniques you can start today to help create a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.
10 Strategies for Helping Your Frontline Team Avoid Burnout
It's no secret that the demands placed on front-line employees are increasing.
As more organizations look to streamline their operations and improve efficiency, they do so by demanding more from the people who are closest to customers and clients. A 2022 survey "found that 72% of frontline workers feel worn out to the point that they do not enjoy their time away from work at the end of their shift."
Burnout can take a toll on individual employees and the organization at large if not managed properly. Let's dive into ten strategies to help your team thrive.
1. Foster a Positive Work Environment
To foster a positive work environment, you should:
- Encourage a culture of trust and respect.
- Promote and respect a healthy work-life balance.
- Give your team the tools they need to do their job.
- Celebrate successes, wins, and opportunities when the team works together.
2. Provide Training and Support
Providing training and support to your frontline team can help them improve their skills, knowledge, and performance. In addition, it gives them the confidence required to tackle difficult situations. Your retail workers are the core of your organization and always have contact with your customers. By ensuring they have proper training and support, you've given a chance for your employees to have a wonderful experience and an exceptional customer experience. For more on how roles are expanding in retail, check out this article.
3. Encourage Self-Care
Encourage self-care among your frontline team members.
- Make sure they know that it's essential to take time for themselves and that you support them.
- Be specific about what you expect from them in terms of self-care, and suggest some things that might work for each member of the team (e.g., "Be mindful of your shifts this week, what's your bandwidth?" or "Take a personal day if you need it.") Offer rewards for when people engage in certain types of activities or meet specific goals related to their health and wellness.
- Encourage frequent breaks during the day, taking time off from work, and balancing their work schedules to include time between shifts. Also, for an inclusive experience, consider implementing alternative schedules and sharing shift blocks to allow team members to engage and pursue other opportunities and passions outside of work.
4. Recognize and Reward Good Work
Recognize when your employees have done something that deserves praise, whether a simple thank you or something more formal, like a bonus or promotion. You can also give them opportunities to grow within their roles by helping them learn new skills or offering training opportunities. For example, having team meetings and town halls where employees can shout out and call out their teammates for a job well done has proven to be a successful way to reward team members for their hard work.
5. Build Community and Belonging
An essential tool to help prevent burnout is to help build a community in your workplace. Belonging means creating an environment where employees feel supported, respected, and valued.
It's easy to think that you're doing enough by talking about the importance of building a strong team culture at every staff meeting--but if you want your team members to feel like they belong in their workplace, it takes more than just words on a whiteboard. It takes action!
For example, this may allow everyone to bring their whole selves to work and show up as their true selves. By creating an inclusive space, you're creating a positive work environment for everyone. Also, team building exercises where everyone can work together and interact to experience new things or accomplish fun tasks.
6. Set Realistic Goals and Expectations
When setting goals for your team, give them a chance to succeed. Please ensure the goals are realistic and don't set them up for failure.
For example, if your goal is for everyone on your sales team to make $10 million in revenue this year, and they only made $5 million last year (and they're all working hard), that might be too much of an increase in one year's time frame--and it could lead some people feeling like failures if they don't meet those expectations.
Avoid setting unrealistic goals. These can cause burnout because employees will feel like their efforts need to be rewarded or recognized. Also, avoid setting far-off future expectations; having something looming over their heads makes workers feel anxious rather than motivated. Collaborate and work with your team members to establish goals that can help challenge the team but not overwhelm individuals.
7. Ensure Clear Communication
Listen to your employees.
- Communicate clear expectations and how their performance will be evaluated.
- Be clear about the company's goals, values, and priorities.
- Consider implementing an open hiring process from the start of the onboarding experience. Strategies like this can set the standard for the employee experience. For example, The Body Shop has implemented an open hiring process to make the hiring process more inclusive and transparent.
8. Minimize Stressors
Stress is a natural part of life. It's not something that you can avoid, but it is something you can manage. The key to minimizing stressors in your organization is to be aware of them and make sure they don't get out of hand.
For example, try creating an internal forum where employees can share their experiences and ask questions about their feelings on any given day. Open communication allows everyone in your team to get in touch with what matters most: themselves and each other! If someone's having trouble managing their workload or dealing with a difficult customer, having this kind of open communication will help them feel less alone and more supported in their struggles. Check out this article on how tech is helping teams across the retail workforce.
9. Lead by Example
Leadership is a team sport, and it's a 24/7 job. Leaders are constantly making decisions and taking risks to help their teams succeed. Also, leaders need to be authentic, transparent, trustworthy, and reliable. Teams need to feel safe enough to share their ideas without fear of judgment.
Leaders must also set clear expectations for themselves (and others!) about how much time they'll spend on work versus personal life--and stick with those boundaries! Suppose you want your employees' best result out of them all day, every day (or at least most days). In that case, you can provide them structure and stability by setting boundaries around when you'll be available and when the team can take time off work.
1. Seek Feedback and Make Adjustments
Once you've identified the causes of burnout, it's time to make adjustments. The first step is to seek feedback from the frontline team itself. You may want to ask them questions like:
- What do they need?
- Are there any obstacles in the way of their work?
If you get any positive answers to this question, it's time to take action! You can do this by removing those barriers or providing whatever resources are necessary for them to succeed. If not (or if some people are still feeling burned out), try asking other teams within your organization for their thoughts on improving things. These might include customer service reps or salespeople who interact with customers every day--they could provide valuable insight on how happy customers are with their experience at each stage of interaction with your company and what would make them more comfortable still--for example: "I wish we offered more options when I'm checking out online." Applying feedback within your organization can help with everything from team retention to the customer experience.
Support Your Frontline Staff for an Engaged and Happy Team
The impact of burnout on your organization can be devastating. It means lost productivity, higher turnover rates, and higher costs. By implementing these strategies, you can help your frontline team avoid burnout and keep your business running smoothly--and better yet, your retail team is collaborating, happy, and thriving!