Power to the People
You've got to sell your image to potential employees too
Targeting employees with the same marketing messages they communicate to customers is an effective way to recruit and retain workers, say Stacey Kaplan and John Jones, human resources consultants at Deloitte & Touche, a nationwide business services and consulting company.
Face it, in a boom economy, virtually everyone has a choice of places to work. That's particularly true in retail where the industry is overstored and demanding of employees. Retail hours are long and weekend and holiday work is common, so retail employees must be extraordinarily committed to choose this field. This means retailers must sell themselves.
When competing for customers, retailers sell their stores by giving them a personality. The Gap, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and Tiffany & Co. each have unique characters that appeal to specific markets.
Employees constitute a market, too, and the goal of savvy retailers is to be their employees' "environment of choice."
Target stores try to project an image to customers of a desirable, bright, friendly place to shop. Humorous billboard and TV ads, easy-to-shop stores and fast checkout lanes contribute to its "Fast, Fun and Friendly" atmosphere.
Target carries the feeling to its employees by encouraging a similar sense of community. Employees are "team members" and empowered to solve problems for customers.
"The key to creating a successful environment is to articulate the culture in ways people can understand," says Karen Grabow, Target's vice president of team/human resources. "Check everything against 'Fast, Fun and Friendly.' You have to reiterate it with mind-numbing repetition, but more importantly, you have to walk the talk."
At Sears, the ad slogan, "The Softer Side of Sears," alerts shoppers there's more than the hardware that once dominated the retailer's image. It also attracts career women to join the company, something that happened less often when the emphasis was on lawn mowers and socket wrenches.
"A customer is a potential employee," Kaplan and Jones write in Chain Store Age magazine. "A job applicant is more likely to apply to a retailer where she has had a positive shopping experience and where she identifies strongly with the environment and the goods sold."
Mark E. Dixon