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3 Lessons in Reducing Turnover Your Company Can Learn from Forever 21


Retail—some of you may think of the lifelong senior level employees you’ve encountered in the sector, while others may conjure memories of their first job. Whatever your initial reaction, when we think of retail, we think of innovation. We’ve been drumming teams to connection for over a decade now here at Drum Cafe West, and since we started, we’ve seen some significant shifts in the way organizations retain employees. This subject has been particularly interesting in the realm of retail.

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There has always been a gap in the retail industry when it comes to employee retention and growth. Bob Phibbs recently wrote and article titled, “8 Reasons Why Your Retail Employee Turnover is so High,” where he addressed several factors that contribute to this endless cycle. From a lack of incentives for employees below management to how training is handled, he covers so many key issues that the retail industry faces. But with that said, his article also uncovers so many opportunities to change that landscape.

We recently had the opportunity to work with the team at Forever 21 for their Field Leadership Conference. This event was so inspiring for us as a team, as it is becoming part of a larger trend we’re witnessing where brands are making the effort to cultivate loyal and engaged employees from the bottom up.

  1. Get your team to fall in love with your brand over and over again. Just like in our romantic relationships, our professional relationships are ignited by passion and true love—from the products to the company culture, it’s important that employees feel that connection. Forever 21 made this concept a cornerstone of their program, and it reinspired their team. Sometimes all it takes is a moment to remind people what got them excited about the brand in the first place to ignite their creativity and push them to excel.
  2. Invest in training your team. According to a CAP study, it costs on average $3,328 to find, hire and train a replacement for a $10/hour employee. What if that entire process could be avoided by investing in a location-wide, regional or national teambuilding event where those new hires are fully integrated into the culture and introduced to the brand? At Forever 21, this is a critical component of their strategy. By bringing in Drum Cafe West,  they were able to provide a unique training experience to their employees—one that is energetic, lively, and encourages them to think beyond their role… which brings us to our last lesson…
  3. Promote powerful leaders, not task masters. We’ve all heard over and over again that people quit managers and bosses, not jobs. Choose your people wisely. Choose those who truly love and understand the brand and the culture to lead it. By doing so, just as Forever 21 has done, you’ll have someone to unite, uplift, and inspire your team in every location every single day.

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We would love to hear your thoughts! What other lessons can you share about reducing employee turnover in a traditionally high-turnover industry?

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