Contributing To The Retail Zietgeist

Contributing To The #Retail Zietgeist

Zeitgeist is a great word, Mirriam-Webster defines it as the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era. I absolutely think that applies to the #Retail landscape and the focus that is being placed on employee well-being and workplace happiness. There is a paradigm for the workplace that is shaping the cultural climate and is embedded in the cultures that are, now, considered “Great Places To Work in Retail”. A focus on creating an authentically great and beneficial place to work for employees is a constant key point in these environments as is brand reputation and image from the consumers perspective.

There are a couple of things that contribute to the retail zietgeist more than others:

(A) Have clear company vision and values that are living and breathing
-This example of Starbuck’s Mission and Values may seem a bit banal but it truly is the best example of a retail organization’s mission and values that are used each day and considered with each new idea in their company. Looking at their business you can see how these fit in to all their initiatives
-Having a culture that supports and encourages peer-to-peer recognition also sets the foundation for a continued positive focus on the values and vision of a retail organization

Here are some other examples of GREAT Retail Vision & Values:

The Container Store’s Foundation Principles
List of Retailer Values & Vision Statements [interesting read]

(B) Treat your employees like the capable, smart, business savvy people they are
-Hopefully, your retail company is able to source and hiring top industry talent (after all, you are not setting your business up for success if you don’t hire great talent that will elevate your business results)
-Allow and encourage innovation and creativity – this encourages a culture of problem solving and diversity in business
-Empower your employees to make decisions and manage their area of responsibility – allow them freedom to try new things, provide feedback, and suggestions based on their results

(C) Focus on Employee Engagement with some of these key points
-Communication – clear, honest & transparent communication means you trust your employees and value their contributions (You can read about the most common workplace communication faux pas’ here)
-Create a formal Employee Referral Program to encourage a stronger talent pool that is more likely to fit in with the company culture
-Having an effective “Stay Interview” program will allow the company to gauge the temperature of the culture and catch any workplace anomalies before they become problems
-Support and encourage workplace relationships and use fun intranet programs to galvanize employee communication and collaboration
-Recognize! Recognize! Recognize! All the successes of individuals and teams. With a special focus on recognizing and rewarding your company’s top performers

(D) Foster a culture of professional growth
“Employees are 2 times more likely to commit to their jobs when they are challenged and intrigued by their work” – Aberdeen Group
-Provide consistent feedback (both recognizing the “good” and coaching to opportunities) in real time to all levels of employees
-Through the Stay Interviews the employees will tell you what they need from you to be happy with their career paths – it takes the guess work out of the process
-It’s amazing what your employees can do when given the opportunity to develop and support the company – especially if you value innovation and creativity in your culture

It still surprises me that there are retailers that don’t understand that placing a focus on the workplace culture for their employees will exponentially improve customer experience and overall sales metrics. It will improve profitability by increased productivity, through improved retention (by eliminating or, at least, decreasing recruiting costs), and dramatically reduce the costs related to absenteeism. If your organization is struggling with brand reputation and employee loyalty – even starting out with a few points that will show that the company is trying to improve Workplace Happiness and will infuse some confidence into your brand.


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

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