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5 qualities that make retail a great place to work

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Yeshasvini Ramaswamy
Yeshasvini Ramaswamy
Chief executive officer of Great Place to Work® India

Employee experience, impartiality, a high-trust environment, effective leadership and opportunities to innovate make retail an industry that provides the best work culture as compared to other sectors

Mumbai: The increasing purchasing power of the middle class, the rise of e-commerce, and improvements in the supply chain are boosting the retail industry’s growth, making it a critical component of the Indian economy. As a result, newer retail business models are emerging today, with a shift towards experiential stores both online and offline.

The retail industry is often portrayed as having a challenging and stressful work environment, with extended hours, low pay, and demanding customers. However, despite these challenges, the sector has succeeded in building workplaces that outshine many other industries in several ways.

In this article, we explore five of the most significant reasons which help retail sector excel in creating a great workplace culture.

  1. Employee experience

The key to success for the retail industry has been the sustenance of employee experience. While the industry went through significant shifts accelerated by the pandemic, leaders in retail have ensured that employees stay engaged regardless of outcomes.

This has resulted in 88% of employees consistently responding positively to employee experience.

2.   Impartiality, equity, and collaboration

Retail organizations outperform organisations belonging to other industries in all aspects of workplace culture. The gap between retail and others ranges between 1% and 4%.

The most remarkable difference observed in employee perception between retail and others is impartiality (belief in fair decision-making), equity (belief in a fair process and equal membership in organisations), and workplace collaboration.

The least observed difference is in justice (belief in an inclusive, non-discriminatory, and fair-minded workplace), intimacy (employees feeling themselves at work), and personal job (personal pride in one’s job).

  1. High trust environment

A great workplace is built on trust and is empowered by meaningful values and effective leadership, allowing the organisation to maximize its human potential, resulting in innovation by all and financial growth. Moreover, the fundamentals establish and demonstrate empirically that trust fuels performance.

The retail sector excels in building differentiated practices that intentionally creates strategies to include everyone. It delivers programmes that deepen relationships, strategically support the business, and ensure the impact towards improving workplace experience.

As a result, compared to all industries, retail stands at Rank #1 on both – establishing practices at the workplace that build trust among employees and workforce responding with the same sentiment.

4.   Effective leaders

Retail also ranks among the top industries when it comes to developing effective leaders who are accessible, demonstrate care for their teams, have clarity in articulating the organization’s vision, and effectively communicate the blueprint to achieve the purpose, signifying competence.

5.   Opportunities to innovate

A significant 51% of employees in retail believe they receive a lot of meaningful opportunities to develop new and better ways of doing things at work. This ranks the industry second for providing innovation opportunities to employees, trailing behind the hospitality industry (64%).

A culture of innovation is critical for sustenance and enduring success. It needs to be built on two levels – 1. the management seeking ideas and suggestions from employees and acting on them, and 2. by way of organizational connection, i.e. the management involving people in decision-making.

Individual inspiration and organizational connection allow employees to innovate and celebrate innovation in the workplace.

Building a culture that enables a company to continuously improve, adapt quickly, and generate pivotal opportunities by tapping into the intelligence, skills, and passion of everyone in the organization is essential, especially in a people-centric industry.

In conclusion, the retail sector stands out among other industries in various ways, particularly in workplace culture. Retail companies have mastered sustaining employee experience by creating high-trust workplaces. In addition, with a greater emphasis on developing effective leaders and providing opportunities for innovation at work, the industry offers a diverse range of career opportunities for growth and development, thus becoming a significant sector to support the workforce.

The retail industry is an exciting and dynamic industry that attracts individuals looking for innovative, customer-focused, and rewarding career paths. As the industry evolves, it will be intriguing to see how it becomes an integral part of the Indian economy while remaining a leader in workplace culture.

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