Exceed Your Employees’ Expectations

With labor pains persisting, retention is more important than ever.
Linda Lisanti
Editor-in-Chief
Linda Lisanti

Convenience store operators find themselves in a precarious position right now. 

They are bracing for lower foot traffic this year as their customer base continues to have less discretionary income to spend. Less foot traffic translates into an even greater need to keep the customers they have by providing exceptional service. At the same time, however, they remain plagued by labor issues, preventing them from delivering that level of service. 

Convenience Store News recently fielded its 2024 Forecast Study and as we do every year, we asked c-store operators to identify the factors that will have the biggest impact on their sales and profitability in the year ahead. For the third consecutive year, labor came out on top, ahead of increasing operational costs at No. 2 and inflation and economic issues at No 3. 

Verbatim comments from respondents this year included: 

  • "Slim pickings in the hiring pool."
  • "We are seeing a sharp decline in the number of applicants for all levels of jobs and the ones who are applying are asking for significantly higher pay and benefits."
  • "With 100% turnover, we can't train fast enough."
  • "Labor costs per hour increase, but the amount of work you get out of an employee is decreasing. You invest in training only for them to move on to the next job that pays a little more or has less responsibility."

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the situation will improve soon. Workforce management company Legion Technologies Inc. recently polled more than 1,500 hourly employees and 628 managers in North America and found that 62% of hourly workers plan to leave their jobs in the next 12 months, up from 42% a year ago; 64% of those who intend to resign plan to leave the industry in which they work; and 67% intend to leave the retail industry altogether. 

The top three catalysts cited were not enough benefits, undesirable working conditions and insufficient schedule flexibility. The good news is that all three of these are things c-store operators can control and improve upon, leading to better employee retention. 

For our February issue, we put together a special feature on "Enhancing the Employee Experience." The article discusses how companies are making it a priority to keep team members satisfied — from a hiring process that is positive and frictionless, to career advancement opportunities, to finding ways to make workers feel valued and respected every day. 

I hope you come away with lots of ideas to meet, or better yet, exceed your employees' expectations. 

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