Does loss prevention play a role in employee retention? The truth is that a well-equipped loss prevention or asset protection team can and should play a critical part in helping to retain good employees.
The past two years were filled with stretches where stores closed or reduced their hours, workers struggled to find childcare or public transportation, people were afraid to shop, and employees were afraid to work.
Now that they are back to work, many retail employees are faced with rude customers and a steep rise in organized retail crime (ORC)—69 percent of retailers noted an increase in organized retail crime over the last year, which can be dangerous for workers and customers alike. Retailers can lock up merchandise to try to counteract theft, but what about employees? As Corie Barry, CEO at Best Buy, recently said, “For our employees these are traumatic experiences, and they are happening more and more across the country.”
While morale ebbs and flows in any job, it’s vital that employers know how to boost it when it begins to sink. That may involve more than temporary “nurturing;” it most likely involves fulfilling their needs as humans. Personal safety is a basic human need.
Here are four reasons employee morale is as important as ever in your stores.
The Hiring Crunch Continues
Whether you’d like to call it “The Great Resignation” or “The Big Quit,” workers are leaving their jobs in droves. In October, 683,000 people left retail jobs, adding to the intense labor shortage that started in 2020 and isn’t showing signs of slowing.
When employees leave, it’s increasingly difficult and costly to hire their replacements. Short-staffed retailers are forced to put more of a burden on remaining employees—who may end up working overtime. And employee departures could cause other employees to leave.
Labor shortages mean prospective employees are commanding higher hourly wages, richer benefits, and better working conditions. Add to that the costs of time and training that go into new hires, and you may find that low morale costs you a lot.
Internal Theft Could Increase
Employees in understaffed stores, frustrated by working conditions, or perceiving a lack of company interest about addressing theft may take it out by stealing.
The National Retail Federation’s 2021 Retail Security Survey noted the average loss in a dishonest employee case was over $1,500 in 2020. But the share of employers who reported that average increased from 29 percent in 2019 to 50 percent in 2020. When employees are unhappy, stressed, and feel underappreciated, they are more likely to steal from stores.
External Theft Suffers, Too
There’s a domino effect when it comes to employee morale. Feeling underappreciated means employees are less likely to feel pride in their work, or the retailer they work for. As a result, they’re more likely to turn their backs on external theft. This could range from ignoring theft when they know it’s happening, to not reporting it after an incident.
Ignoring external theft means criminals are not arrested, cases aren’t built, offenders aren’t prosecuted, and thefts continue. Shoppers who feel unsafe in high-crime stores will visit other stores, and employees may decide to go elsewhere too.
Rules Are Ignored and Bad Habits Grow
Employees who don’t feel valued are more likely to break rules and create bad habits in stores. Employees with low morale are less likely to offer good customer service, stock shelves correctly, or show up for their shifts on time. In some cases, bad habits may grow out of “shortcuts” due to staff shortages. This creates a negative in-store experience, leading shoppers to choose other stores or buy products online.
The brick-and-mortar retail industry is facing historic challenges in retaining employees. As we head into a new year, there is a significant opportunity for loss prevention executives to review the role their teams play in employee retention and review strategies that help to create safer stores.