10 Ways to Improve Motivation in Retail Staff


For ideal staff performance, managing your team and encouraging motivation should be one and the same thing. Your team should be able to identify their responsibilities – and accept them with a positive, motivated attitude –  through the example and standards you set as a manager. While it’s normal for collective motivation to wane in staff every now and then, there are some tips and tricks you can use to change the mood around and boost motivation in your retail team.

Encourage exploration

Encourage your employees to get to know the products they are selling, as well as the company brand and your target audience. To really help them become invested in your store and its products, it’s a good idea to give staff members take-home testers, so they can experience the product for themselves.

You could also ask certain staff members to get involved in market research by asking customers to complete research surveys in-store. These team members could use the results of this research to inform yourself and the team on the insights they have identified, and possible ways to improve customer service to better accommodate customer needs. This increase in responsibility will keep your staff motivated, and invested in your store.

Praise, praise, praise!

Positive reinforcement is the key to team motivation. Everyone loves to be told that they’ve done a good job or that they are appreciated in some way. So give members of your team recognition when they perform at a high level. If they meet certain key Performance indicators (KPIs) or receive positive customer feedback, make sure you give credit where credit is due. You can do this in private or in public, depending on what you think is appropriate. Not only will this motivate your staff to repeat outstanding behaviour, it will encourage other team members to do the same.


Teamwork is important in any work environment – particularly if your staff are new to the industry, or if you have a team of young adults. Teamwork can help build team motivation, and is especially useful for those staff members who might be lacking in confidence due to a fear that they’ll do something wrong or confusion over what’s expected of them.

To cultivate a culture of cooperation and collaboration, it’s a good idea to set up group goals that the team can work towards achieving together. Also consider creating a ‘buddy’ system where pairs of employees work towards a certain goal together, this system also encourages support between staff members on stressful or fast-paced days.

Ask your staff for their opinion

Include your team in conversations and decisions about the store. By actively encouraging your staff to participate in the success of the store – at more than just a customer service level – they will feel like they are respected and valued. This type of collaborative culture is great for motivation because people love to see their ideas come to fruition. There is also the added benefit that they might bring a valuable insight to the table!

Flexible working hours

Don’t be afraid of flexibility when it comes to staff working hours. It’s important your team maintains a healthy work/life balance to stay motivated in your store. Flexible work hours also combats problem such as employee burnout. While it may seem a hindrance to encourage your team members to take a day or two off to do something they enjoy – the benefits that will be seen in their motivation and attitude as an employee will be well worth it.

It’s also a good idea to offer bonus holiday leave as an incentive for the best salespeople for the season or the month – this will most definitely motivate some employees to do the best they can.

Make work fun

You’re probably thinking that this is easier said than done. What if your team slacks off having fun? Or even worse, what if your attempts at trying to make things fun backfire and demotivate your team even further?

As we’ve established previously, money, gift cards or even a day off will nearly always motivate someone to achieve a goal. So how can you capitalise on this to make your place of work fun? Games!

Yep games. This might sound a little strange, but it really isn’t. Take for example, the retail game ‘Pass the Buck’.

Firstly you will need to pick a day that you want to really maximise sales. You can be strategic and choose a day close to the holiday season, or maybe a date that you know will usually face a slump in purchases. After this you need to establish the stakes. This could be anything from $50, to purchasing your employee lunch. Create a token (i.e. the buck) that represents this ‘reward’ and give it to the first team member that makes a sale that day – this is where the fun begins.

When a team member surpasses that first sale (e.g. money spent or items purchased), the token is passed to them. This goes on until the close of business – when the person with the best sale of the day will win the token’s reward. This game is designed to encourage up-selling, add-on sales, fantastic customer service and increased sales.

Remember birthdays, anniversaries and holidays

Celebrate the occasions that are important to your team. A simple birthday cake, card and lunch for an employee will make working on their birthday feel a whole lot better.

If you have an established business that has been around for a while, consider celebrating ‘work anniversaries’. The bigger the milestone (e.g. 5 years with the team), the bigger the celebration. This could be shouting the staff member to lunch or dinner, or giving them day off as thank you for their contribution to your store’s success.

Another important factor to remember when talking about celebrations is to be inclusive. Many teams will have a diverse group of employees with a variety of different backgrounds and experiences. To create a welcoming and accepting environment, it’s best to acknowledge and celebrate the events that are meaningful to each individual staff member.

Remove the unmotivated

If worse comes to worse and none of these motivational tips work, than unfortunately you might have to think about removing unmotivated members. If certain team members are setting you back, dragging everyone down, or causing unwarranted stress then everyone will feel the burden. Motivated employees will also feel uncomfortable and resentful that a poor performing employee is reaping the benefits of their hard work. Remember, by not addressing bad performance you are often encouraging it.

Removing unmotivated underperformers doesn’t mean firing them. It could mean shifting them into another role that you think might be more suitable for them, or even moving them to another store.

Your ability to manage difficult staff will ultimately improve motivation in the rest of the team. It will help reassure other members that you’ve got their back and care about their work environment.