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January 2012 | Vol. XI - No. 1
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Four Ways to Boost Employee Morale


With additional reporting by Chris Lundy.

In the current economy, some of your best employees may be working out of necessity, not passion. How can you keep them motivated and enthusiastic about their daily tasks? Here are a few tips from other retailers.

Make it a Competition


To help keep employees motivated, Elmer Carranza, assistant manager of Doodlehopper 4 Kids in Falls Church, Va., suggests creating a contest.

“Not against each other, but as a team,” he said. “Have a set goal for every day or over a weekend. If they reach their goal, they can win money or something they can use, like a gift card.”

Gladys Griffin, owner of Main Street Toy Shop in Columbus, Ga., uses competition as a motivator too. “[Employees] will sometimes make friendly bets, like, ‘If you sell more of this than me, I'll buy you lunch.’”

Mike McCollum, owner of Learning Express in Hoover, Ala. knows that training is a big part of getting employees involved. “Having them know the product will in turn help them to sell it. There was a contest with prizes for employees who met their sales goal in October. Anybody who raised their average sale by a dollar won a prize. It really showed improved numbers for October.”

Let Them Play

“We have demos of many of our products, so we get our employees to play the games, make the crafts, do the science kits...They have fun while learning about the merchandise,” said Lisa LeStrange, owner of Lucky Duck Toys in Wayne, Pa.

“Let them play with the new stuff as it comes in,” agreed Stephanie Dupuy of Playville in Covington, La. “Bring [product features] to their attention: This product would be good for this age child.” If you're excited about it, and show your employees why, they might get excited too. “If they know how it works, they are more confident selling it.”

Appreciate them

“Make them feel valued,” said Mary Porter Green, owner of The Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va. “Listen, protect them from evil customers, and make them feel like you are on their side. Give them little ‘thank you’ gifts along the way, talk to them about their aspirations and help if you can, and make them feel like they are part of a family.”

Have Fun

“I think it's important to have a fun atmosphere,” said Mike DiAndria, manager of Hardware Toys in Paoli, Pa. “If the employees have fun, the customers have fun. For example, one day a month, we have Wacky Wednesday, where we dress up in weird things.”

At Beanhead Toys in Sandy Springs, Ga., fun is part of every day. Owner Chris Lowe makes sure the fridge is stocked with drinks, and that there are always snacks available.

“In the month of December, I buy lunch every day,” she said. Employees “Joke with each other and the customers. When they go home they don't feel like they have baggage.” A former professional photographer, she understands that some employees have other careers in mind. She is up front that she can only afford to pay a base retail wage, but encourages employees’ outside interests, as long as they do their job well when they are at work.



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Brenda RuggieroWriter's Bio: Brenda Ruggiero is a freelance writer from western Maryland. Read more articles by this author

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