The COVID-19 pandemic has turned 2020 and 2021 into a good-news, bad-news environment for convenience stores. The good news is that being recognized as an essential business sector meant c-stores stayed open, and in-store sales increased by more than 3% in 2020 and another 2% to date in 2021. While stay-at-home orders adversely affected national fuel sales (bad news), demand is increasing in 2021, with the average number of weekly fuel visits surpassing 2020 levels as of mid-March (good news).
When it comes to employment opportunities, the good news is that convenience stores are currently accounting for hundreds of thousands of job openings around the country, as well as increases in pay and benefits designed to attract the best candidates.
The bad news is that it might not be enough.
The National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees has reported that 96% of franchise owners say that staffing has grown more difficult in the past few months even after offering pay increases.
Your convenience store chain might not have resources like 7-Eleven, but there are still things you can do to streamline your hiring and onboarding processes and improve employee retention. The key? Focus on the things you can control.
Attracting and Hiring the Best Prospects
By now most employers have heard about the seismic shift in employees’ job expectations brought about by the pandemic. For example, Joblist’s recent report found that:
- 74% of job seekers believe that employers need to re-evaluate the benefits they offer.
- 55% of job seekers say they would consider taking a lower-paying job if it offered better benefits, such as health care (68%), a flexible work schedule (60%), or paid sick and parental leave (51%).
While only you can decide whether and which job benefits should be revamped – but once those decisions have been made, it’s time to tell the world what your chain offers:
- Write job postings that include specific qualifications, years of experience, and daily responsibilities.
- Publicize your company culture in job ads, social media, and the “careers” page on your website. What are your performance standards? What commitments have you made to ensure your employees’ safety, well-being and career growth? What personality traits will complement your existing team?
- Include compensation ranges in your ads. If job-seekers can’t estimate at a glance how much your job pays, they’ll move along to a more specific ad. Further, if your pay range is a dealbreaker for any applicant, it’s better they find out before anyone’s time is wasted.
- Consistently feature your benefits, such as PTO, flexible or part-time scheduling, free training or certifications, a casual working environment, etc.
Consider an employee referral program that pays your staff a cash bonus for bringing in high-quality hires. Since these referrals can be 13 times more effective than job boards, it’s practical to distribute some of your recruitment budget to your team.
During interviews, focus on candidates not just as employees but as people. Ask about their previous job experience as well as their interests, personal goals, and ideal employers. Ask for references, and make time to call them to confirm the facts.
Your employee retention efforts should start as soon as the employee signs on.
- Research by Glassdoor found that a strong onboarding program can improve employee retention by 82%.
- However, 58% of employers say their onboarding program is focused on paperwork and processes.
- Few organizations extend their onboarding efforts beyond the first week.
In today’s digital workplace, it’s easy to develop effective onboarding. A robust digital, mobile training and checklist app like MeazureUp allows your organization to standardize all training modules while also customizing them to specific job responsibilities. Training includes expanded format options like videos and can be completed on any smartphone, from any location. On the job, reference materials are linked directly to each checklist so that every employee can access the latest how-to information. The cloud-based platform allows employees to ask questions of their supervisors and managers, wherever they are, and get real-time answers.
Employees readily see how training builds the skills to do their jobs according to objective specifications, quickly and transparently establishing proficiency without the pressure of trying to recall every detail in the store. Each employee’s training track and daily performance are documented and easy to build upon as needed. Both employees and managers can readily recognize and replicate exceptional performance; no deficiency is left undetected, and cross-training becomes a breeze. All these practices contribute to increased employee satisfaction, engagement and retention.
Improve Morale, Retain Employees
It’s important to operate is if training is never truly complete. Any store may need a refresher on any topic; new sanitation guidelines, expanded food service options, or new branding means new procedures; and continuous, standardized improvement of the customer experience is always a goal. In addition, employees appreciate the chance to develop their skills, train into a different job, or move up in the organization by taking on new responsibilities.
MeazureUp is designed to provide this sort of training to all employees at the touch of a screen. Your operations team can update any procedure, checklist, etc., just once and the app rolls the update out to all devices in real time. Every employee is continuously kept in the loop and working from current information.
Letting an app maintain the nuts and bolts of training allows your operations team to concentrate on the “soft skills” that increase employee retention: Hiring candidates who will grow with your company, reinforcing employees’ sense of purpose at work, providing feedback and mentoring, managing growth tracks, and communicating openly, even in these tough times.
Hire MeazureUp for Better Employee Experiences
According to a report by Benefit News, it can cost a business up to 33% of an employee’s annual salary to replace that employee if they leave – and that expense is likely not getting cheaper in today’s hiring environment. Considering all the effort your convenience store chain is putting into human resources, it’s critical to do everything you can to hire the most qualified applicants and retain employees – and MeazureUp helps you train and retain employees for the long term at a fraction of what it would cost to replace them.
For more information about how MeazureUp streamlines your onboarding and training to improve the experience for all your c-store employees, visit https://meazureup.com/grocery-convenience-store-checklist/.