Retaining talent is hard, but can training help?

New Leaf Technologies unpacks retention in retail and how staff development programmes can shift the dynamic

Retaining talent is hard, but can training help?
Retaining talent is hard, but can training help? Image source: Unsplash

JOHANNESBURG, – Retail employees choose to quit their jobs for a number of reasons.

While inadequate compensation for services will always be a big one, many others relate to a lack of personal growth.


Being stuck in a rut, the position consuming too much family time, poor management, or a lack of recognition can all lead to a resignation letter being fired off and an exit interview that is more than a little uncomfortable for the human resources practitioner.


It is a quantifiable fact that employees who do not feel valued or that the work no longer aligns with their own best interests will look for the first exit.


In fact, in North America the phenomenon has even been given a name: the “Big Quit”. A staggering 52% of 2 000 employees surveyed in the US and Canada in 2022 indicated they were on the hunt for new jobs.


With Covid-19 forcing people to work at home, they got a taste of what it was like to spend more time with their families – and that taste subsequently has become an enormous appetite.


Retailers cannot afford to bury their heads in the sand in terms of what has happened, says Paul Hanly, founder of South African online learning solutions provider New Leaf Technologies.


“They need to up their game to create a positive work environment that offers flexible work options, wellness programmes and a supportive culture. People will no longer accept being a number on a payslip; they want their stress levels to be reduced and more quality time with their loved ones. Companies offering this will always be at an advantage.”


A lack of training programmes to upskill staff can also see them packing their bags for good.


“To retain staff, you need to offer them opportunities for career growth and development,” Hanly says.


“Retailers can offer learning and mentorship programmes as well as job-shadowing opportunities to help them grow. Career advancement is a huge inventive for just about anyone. Investing in employees through learnership solutions can result in workers who are more loyal, engaged and productive.”


At the same time retailers should appreciate that this approach is a two-way street, and they stand to benefit greatly if they stay the course.


Employees in these programmes are able to provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t, enabling retailers to make necessary changes to make training even more effective.


Likewise, performance metrics like sales figures and customer satisfaction will quickly tell the story of how good or bad a training programme might be.


Perhaps most importantly, return on investment (ROI) analytics will show to what extent the programmes are benefiting the business as a whole.


Each retail business will have specific needs, and when to implement these solutions will be dependent on what those needs are.


But Hanly suggests that they should be put in place year-round rather than waiting on a specific season or time.

“By doing so, retailers can provide ongoing opportunities for employee development and engagement, rather than only focusing on these initiatives during certain times of the year. Some solutions, such as implementing a performance management system or offering ongoing feedback and recognition, can be implemented relatively quickly, while others, such as creating a comprehensive learning and development programme, may take several months or even years to fully develop and implement.”

New Leaf Technologies has gained a wealth of experience in offering customised e-learning solutions that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individual retail businesses.


Hanly emphasises that these are specifically designed to attract, enrich, and retain talent through a learner-centric approach. Engaging content that speaks to individual preferences will not only keep the employee interested but prove to them that their company cares enough to invest in them.


And in the post-Covid work environment, that’s like gold dust.