Employee absence causes issues for any business in any sector. But absence in retail can be particularly damaging.

Absence in retail is always a problem because it invariably means there’ll be fewer people on the shop floor. And for every person that’s not on the shop floor, life will get that little bit harder for every worker that remains.

Let’s take a look at five impacts this will have on your business.

Stress Levels Will Rise

The retail sector can be quite a demanding place to work. The pace is fast and the work is physically demanding. Sales are everything, so the pressure is high. The customer is always right. But customers can be demanding at best and downright insulting at worst.

If you run a retail business, it’s essential that you get your staffing levels right. You need precisely the right number of workers on the shop floor at any one time. This means enough people to delight customers and drive sales, with staff left over to complete all the vital backroom tasks to the highest possible standard.

Each individual absence means one fewer pair of hands on deck. Everyone will have to either work extra hard to make up the shortfall, or else things won’t get done and sales won’t go through. This can make an already stressful job even more stressful. And stress can be very damaging indeed for business.

Customer Service Will Suffer

If your retail business is to thrive, your sales staff must be exceptional. They’ll have to routinely meet and exceed customer needs. But when your staffing levels are down due to absences, your team will struggle to go that extra mile.

Stressed people are not happy people. Stress can make you feel anxious, fearful, irritable, and fatigued. It can also affect your concentration, your memory, and your ability to make decisions. None of these effects are conducive to good customer service.

Maybe your employees can keep their cool and master their stress levels when your staffing levels are down. But they’ll still feel pushed for time. They’ll simply have more to do than they would on a day when everyone’s in. In certain retail environments, such as those that sell high-value luxury items, spending less time with customers might mean missing out on big sales.

Motivation Will Fall

All those side effects of stress we mentioned? Of course you should worry that they’ll be bad for customer service and sales. But more importantly, you want your staff to be happy, right? And if they’re stressed, they’re not happy.

What will this mean? Well, for starters, it’ll mean that motivation levels won’t be very high. If your staff aren’t motivated, customer service and sales will take yet another hit. But on top of this, people who can’t find motivation in their work don’t tend to stick around for very long.

In this way, too much absence in retail can lead to a higher staff turnover. And this means spending more time and money on recruitment and training.

Even worse, a retail business that’s run by stressed-out, overworked and demotivated workers won’t be a very nice environment. Too much absence can lead to a toxic company culture. Do you think customers are going to want to spend much time in such a hostile environment?

Employees May Overlook Vital Tasks

Think of all the many things that have to happen to make your retail business a triumph. Yes, successful sales are a big one. But what about the hundreds of tasks that contribute to a functional retail environment? If absences cause your staffing levels to fall, many of these tasks may not get completed to an acceptable standard. Or they may not get completed at all.

For example, think about stocking. Most retail environments require their workers to take on multiple tasks, and this often involves taking deliveries, keeping stock, monitoring inventory, and stacking shelves. All of this must be done. But if your team is too thinly-spread due to an absence, standards may slip.

Then there’s cleaning and tidying, another task that many retail workers have to undertake themselves on top of the rest of their responsibilities. If your team is obliged to overlook these duties, the appearance of your business may suffer, leading to further lost sales.

Worse, if a spillage or another hazard goes unaddressed for too long, someone might get hurt. If this is another member of staff, the result will be further absence and even more problems. But if it’s a member of the public, you could have a costly lawsuit on your hands.

You’ll Struggle to Grow

So to sum up, absence in retail can lead to:

  • Stressed, demotivated, and unhappy employees.
  • Poor customer service and lost sales.
  • Higher staff turnover and a toxic company culture.
  • Poor inventory management and understocked shelves.
  • Lower standards on the shop floor with a possible increased risk of accidents.

You’ll never be able to entirely eradicate employee absence. People get sick, or injured, and they need to take regular breaks. Employee absence is an inevitability for any business.

But unless you take steps to manage absence in your retail business, you’ll struggle to achieve lasting success and sustainable business growth.

Fortunately, managing absence might not be as challenging as you think.

How to Manage Absence in Retail

Our absence management software will enable you to carefully control your staffing levels and ensure that employee absence will never scupper your business. Here are 5 ways to manage absence in retail:

  1. Manage your employee rota like never before. Set minimum staffing levels to ensure that you’ll always have enough hands on deck to keep things running smoothly while delivering the best possible customer service. Learn more.
  2. Total flexibility, total security. Any employee can securely access the cloud-based system from any device. Everyone can immediately see who’s in and when on any given day. Part-time staff, and those who work irregular hours, can manage their shifts with ease. Learn more.
  3. Be an employee wellbeing champion. Everyone needs a break now and then, but staff in the retail sector may feel too busy to take the time they need. With our system, they can make a leave request and get confirmation in a matter of minutes. Make it as easy as possible for employees to book time off and they’ll be more likely to take breaks, resulting in less stress, happier staff, and happier customers. Learn more.
  4. Get a better understanding of your absence trends. Absence reporting and Bradford Factor scoring will give you a detailed understanding of your business’s absence trends. You’ll learn when employees are most likely to take time off, and you’ll be able to spot patterns and act to help reduce absence rates. Learn more.

Sound good? We’re just getting started. Head here to learn more about the amazing benefits an absence management system can bring to your business.

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