How to Hire & Retain the Right Retail Employees

By Brian Harris

“Your people make all the difference. The only thing your competitors can’t copy is your culture and your people.” – Mel Kleiman, expert on hiring the best hourly employees

In one day, Mel Kleiman’s “employee from hell” totaled nine Hertz rental cars. Kleiman, who once owned the largest group of Hertz Rent-A-Car franchise locations in the U.S., is also the founder of Humetrics, a consulting firm that specializes in helping companies hire the best hourly employees.

According to Kleiman, hourly employees comprise more than 60 percent of the U.S. workforce, but many companies fall short on retaining top employees long enough to see a return on their investment. The result is high turnover rates and high costs to the employer.

How do you find the right retail employees? It’s a two-way street between the applicant and employer. Kleiman says to hire tough and manage easy. (In fact, that’s the name of his book.)

He urges employers to ask tough questions during the interview process. Don’t just ask them about their ability to do the tasks required in your job opening. Kleiman says that 95 percent of applicants will come to the interview prepared to tell you only what you want to hear.

Instead, ask them about their past job experiences and their ability to work with others. Ask them what their most difficult job was and how long they stayed at it.

Retention of Great Retail Employees is Self-Reflective

The hiring process isn’t just applicant/employee-centric. It’s also employer-centric. What kind of company are you inviting the applicant to join?

In the above video, Kleiman identifies five things all great employees are looking for in a job:

1. Great Bosses, Great Employees
Your employees are more likely to stay when they are surrounded by good people who want to see them succeed. How do managers measure up? How effective is the senior management team at communicating?

2. Growth
Employees are more likely to stay when they have an opportunity to advance or grow their skill set.

3. Interesting Work
Challenge your employees. Give them new responsibilities.

4. Family Friendly Work Environment
Life exists outside of work. Employees want to work for people who recognize and respect that fact.

5. Recognition
It’s a human emotion to crave recognition. People want to know when they are doing a good job. An occasional reward can go a long way!

Here’s an important question: Do you use the right tools to measure your store’s progress so you can identify your great employees, grow your business, experiment with new tasks/responsibilities, properly staff your stores so employees have a consistent schedule, and recognize your staff?

Falling short in one or more of these areas may also be holding you back from hiring the right people. You can’t just hire people who look good on paper to fix your business. Your company needs to be strong from the ground up, so you can attract good, hardworking employees who will grow with your business.

“We hire people for who they are, not what they know. Your most important job is making sure you hire the right people,” Kleiman concluded.

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