Natural Foods Merchandiser
A little bit of employee praise goes a long way in a natural food retail environment

A little bit of employee praise goes a long way in a natural food retail environment

When it comes to keeping your natural food retail employees happy and productive, a little praise can go a long way. Here's how you can make it personal.

Most of us would love it if our new and part-time employees would stick around and be a positive part of our crew for a long time. It saves us time and money, can create a better shopping environment and is definitely better for morale. In fact, those who really like working at our store often become our next managers.

There are several things you can do to keep them around—apart from the obvious, like running a thorough training program and providing solid job descriptions, good shift guidelines and of course clear expectations with accountability. Here’s another great way to make a big difference in retaining good, productive and happy staff.

Give praise.
As a rule, many of us don’t give or get enough praise in our lives and this is even true in many natural food retail operations. This lack of praise has dramatic effects on how retail employees feel about and perform in their jobs.

All sorts of bad things happen when people don’t feel appreciated. They whine. They complain. They bring others down with them. And then they leave their jobs -- or worse, they stay and pollute the store environment. Research shows that negative employees can scare off good customers they speak with. It also shows that a major reason people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

How does your store or department rate in giving praise and showing appreciation?

Praise can be a very powerful leadership strategy.

Those who do receive praise show tangible benefits. Many studies show that people who give and get praise:

  • Increase individual and group productivity
  • Are more likely to stay with their current organization
  • Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from their customers
  • Have better safety records and fewer accidents on the job

How to keep it real.
If you want people to understand the value of their contributions, the recognition and praise you provide must have meaning that is specific to each individual. So the praise has to be real and genuine—not just that occasional “good job with the wet rack this morning” remark you say in passing.

Instead try: “Wow, the greens section looks fantastic this morning, Jane. The way you arranged the greens really shows off the color and texture of each bunch. I think your eye for display is getting better by the day, and it’s showing up in our sales. The kale and chard sales have increased by 15% since you started setting this section up. Keep this up and you could be training others to do this in the future."

Can you see how someone would react differently to the second, more specific praise?

If praise isn’t a regular part of your routine or culture it may not be so easy to begin praising your team. One way to initiate this practice is by paying attention to the little things staff do to make your business better each day. You can start with small praises given once a week. When you get more comfortable work up to the more specific praises and increase the regularity with which you give them.

Anything will make a difference, and you’ll be surprised how giving regular praise can pay huge dividends. So much that everyone who works and shops at your store will notice and, believe me, it can actually change a workplace for the better.

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