Bad Days In Retail And How To Minimize Them

Bad Days In Retail And How To Minimize Them

As I was writing the article “Retail Productivity & Morale Killers“, my objective was to – in that same article – provide some ideas on how to turn challenging cultures around and deliver a greater level of happiness to your team when morale starts to erode or your team hits a rough patch in their path to deliver excellence. Turned out there was too much to write about with JUST the causes for the issues so I thought I would dedicate another post to this topic and share some statistics and ideas on how to minimize this productivity killer.

As a senior level retail leader I force myself, though I may want to deny these issues exist in my area of responsibility, to take an objective look at my teams and use information gained to ensure that the leaders and team members that work with me are not experiencing these issue and if they are we address it and work through it. If we automatically make the assumption that this couldn’t possibly be happening on our team we are being blind and selfish as leaders.

In our industry things happen but it is our responsibility as retail leaders to help support our team through these business hiccups [or climactic moments of chaos]. As I was reading I came across an incredible report by the brilliant minds at the Denmark based, Woohoo inc. that outlined the frequency and causes that we experience “bad days” at work. Here are some of those eye opening statistics:

Is Work Life or Home Life Causing The Bad Day

  • When we are unhappy at work, work is the problem:
    • The last time you had a bad day at work, was it bad because of factors at work or factors outside of work?
      • 74.7% responded that it was factors at work that made it a bad day
      • 2.8% responded that it was factors outside of work that made it a bad day
      • 20.7% of respondents stated it was factors of both work and home
      • 1.8% responded they didn’t know

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  • If the problem is at home, it’s most likely sleep deprivation or work/life balance issues[they were given an opportunity to select multiple options]:
    • The last time you had a bad day at work, which factors outside of work contributed to making it bad?
      • A lack of sleep accounted for 54.3% of responses
      • Bad work-life balance was reason for 41.1% of responses
      • Illness (my own) 18.2%
      • My commute 17.9%
      • Problems in my relationship 15.3%
      • The weather 12.2%
      • Illness among family or friends 10.1%
      • Other 7.3%

Who Is Suffering Through More Bad Days?

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The Top 5 Factors That Caused Bad Days At Work

  1. A Lack Of Help From My Boss
  2. Negative/Toxic Coworkers
  3. Lack of Praise or Recognition For The Work I Do
  4. Uncertainly About The Workplace’s Vision & Strategy
  5. Unreasonable Work Load

The Least Likely Issues To Cause A Bad Day

  1. My job is too hard [only 5% selected this]
  2. Other [9% selected this]
  3. My job is too easy [9% selected this]
  4. Poor physical work environment [13% selected this option]
  5. A lack of perks in the workplace [15% selected this choice]

North America Is Unhappier Than Europe

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Retail Leaders – Here’s How You Can Help

  • Show You Care: The biggest reason people are miserable at work is that their perception is that they have a bad boss. It’s a realistic obstacle that we need to own and understand. We need to be human beings, first and foremost, while we are leading our teams. Everyone deserves kindness, respect, honesty, and support – consistently. People want to be involved in their careers and want meaning & purpose. They also want to know how they are doing. Share this consistently and honestly.
  • Give Them A Reason To Believe: Keeping your team working towards the organizations goals and objectives and explaining [a reminding them] their contribution to that is and recognize and reward their efforts and support them to deliver solutions to obstacles. From your organization’s online presence, potential candidates need to understand and share in the vision and values of what you are doing as an organization. Vision and values are the guiding principles and can motivate and inspire your team which comes back full circle in effectively driving company growth.
  • Recognize Their Contributions: When someone is doing something awesome, tell them. Recognize the individuals on your team who receive compliments from your customers. Provide opportunity for your team members to recognize each other publicly and privately. It’s important for employees to feel their efforts are being recognized, and the recognition propels their desire to go above and beyond for their coworkers and customers, which of course, sets you apart as a retail organization when so many are “too busy” to do this.
  • Consistently Offer Opportunity For Learning & Development: This is the first step in succession planning and career path planning for your team. When you offer tools and resources for your team to support their desire to grow their career capital in conjunction with training that is provided, you will identify your high-potential and high-productivity team members. These team members need to know how valuable they are to the business and be supported and challenged to grow and stretch themselves and recognized when they do. Remember, people want to perform work with meaning & purpose to feel rewarded at work.
  • Deal With Toxic Employees: As leaders. when we take on a negative employee, we send a clear message to our teams and the organization that we are a strong manager up to the task. We also show that we are willing to protect the team and culture. Additionally, we reinforce the value and appreciation that we have for the contributions of our hardworking, productive, and positive team members. When the Retail Organization supports leadership by allowing them to deal with the bad employee(s) in the workplace, they send the clear message to the organization that they are committed to the culture and the mission statement and values.

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What We Can Do To Take Control Of Our Day

  • Don’t Take It Personally: Whatever made you upset – if your bad day was set off by someone’s negativity or poor attitude, don’t take it personally. If someone else was angry, upset, frustrated, or just plain rude, it’s important that you not absorb their actions or behavior.  Have a buddy that you can talk through your frustrations with [just one person though who gets you]. Talking through the issue and moving past it will support getting on with your day and making it great because that’s what you choose to do. *Recommended Reading: “How To NOT Take Things Personally: A Practical Guide” by Christine Kane.
  • Do Something That Makes You Happy: Put an end to your bad day by seeking out things you know make you feel empowered, confident, and happy. Begin a passion project you’ve been thinking about. Try learning something new. Step out of the store or out of the office to get some fresh air and a renewed perspective on your day. Think about a healthy and exciting reward that you can give yourself for making it through the day, at the end of the business day.
  • Be Prepared: You cannot control what your coworkers do or don’t do, as the case may be. But you can and do control your own performance, quality, and quantity of work. Let your ability to deliver great products, on-time consistently be your reputation. This will make you stand out in the workplace next to people who are good at little else than assigning blame or making excuses why the can’t get their work done. So often bad days are self inflicted – so eliminate this issue as an obstacle in your work day or week. When you do your job well and you deal in honesty and authenticity you really minimize the chances of a bad day for yourself.
  • Embrace The Practice Of Extreme Resilience: Extreme resilience is the ability to recover fast from adversity. So many people spend so much time self-recriminating and/or blaming others or making excuses. Practicing extreme resilience enables us to recover and move on from the occasion so we can get back to doing great things instead of going on a guilt-trip and relying on excuses.
  • Evaluate What Happened: Hopefully, one or more of these strategies can help you bounce back after a bad day at work. But before you move on and put everything behind you, take a moment to reflect on what didn’t go well and how you could have avoided it. If you determine the catalyst for what went wrong, you can better understand how to avoid “it” in the future. This will help you be proactive, rather than reactive…and you may be able to prevent a bad day from destroying your week before it even occurs.
  • Leave It At Work: When our work day stinks, it’s super easy to bring our stress and unhappiness home with us. Establish an end-of-the-workday routine that helps signal the official end of to your day. Like a clean desk, clean email inbox, checked off to-do list, or a song that puts in you a great mood. That way, when things don’t go well in your day, your mind will still process and embrace that work is over [yay!]…and now it’s time to go home, relax, and do something that makes you happy.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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2 thoughts on “Bad Days In Retail And How To Minimize Them

  1. Hi Beth,
    I can’t tell you how timely your words are. I too am passionate about my retail career and have recently found myself experiencing more bad days than good. While I practice the methods you outline, it is helpful to know that I have the power to control my responses.
    Thank you so much!!

    1. Denise – thank you so much for your comment. Retail is challenging – especially right now – but there is some comfort in how we manage our reactions. I think it’s great that you are taking control of how you perceive things and I wish you lots of luck! Please let me know if there is anything I can do! ~ Beth

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