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3 Professional Development Pathways to Retain Retail Employees

  • 4 MIN READ

Companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for almost twice as long. Here's how professional development can help.

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When you hear the words “professional development,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

For some people, it’s learning how to handle difficult customers or being a more supportive coworker. For others, it means getting promoted and climbing the corporate ladder.

No matter what an employee’s objectives are, professional development opportunities can make work more engaging and can improve retail industry retention rates. It can also open doors to future opportunities within a company, keeping great candidates in-house and paving the way for them to advance without needing to look to competitors.

And that matters a lot; companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for almost twice as long as companies that don’t.

Below are three examples of how professional development can help pave internal mobility pathways for employees in the retail industry.

1. From Front Line to Front Office

Retail associates have long been the heartbeat of the retail industry. For some employees, being face to face with customers and working on the front lines is exactly where they want to be. Others may have traits or desires that would lend themselves to a role in management or beyond.

This pathway shows the professional development journey from retail sales associate to store manager to regional director, and the skills needed at each stage to advance and succeed.

Retail associate: Skills needed to advance: leadership conflict resolution sales Courses: Certificate in Leadership (U of G) Communication and Conflict Resolution (PowerED by Athabasca University) Quality Customer Engagement (NAIT)
Store manager: Skills needed to advance: analytics finance intercultural competence Courses: Analytics for Competitive Advantage (Michigan State University) Planning and Monitoring (University of Manitoba) Cross-Cultural Intelligence (NAIT)
Regional director: Skills needed to succeed: business leadership communication Courses: Mini-MBA for Science, Technology and Engineering Professionals (Carleton University FutureEDge) Building High-Performance Organizations (Michigan State University) Communication Foundations (Durham College)

2. From Trainee to Trainer

Every job begins with some degree of training. In a warehouse setting, that can look like a company orientation, safety training and on-the-job skill development. But what if the trainee could someday become the trainer, without ever having to move to a different company?

This path shows the professional development journey from fulfillment worker to floor manager to trainer, and the skills an employee could learn through professional development to get there.

Fulfillment worker: Skills needed to advance: leadership spreadsheet tools bias training Courses: Essential Skills for Leadership (PowerED by Athabasca University) Microsoft Excel Level I (NAIT)
Floor manager: Skills needed to advance: racial equity conflict resolution finance Courses: Racial Equity: Strategies for Organizations (NAIT) Communication and Conflict Resolution (PowerED by Athabasca University) Accounting: Analysis and the Use of Financial Information (York U)
Trainer: Skills needed to succeed: training leadership instruction communicating to teach Courses: Training and Development (York U) Leadership Development in Small Organizations (University of Guelph) Educational Communication (University of Guelph)

3. From Intern to Internal Growth

Co-op and intern opportunities are ones where students get on-the-job experience as they learn and embark on their career. The learning shouldn’t stop when they land a job, though.

This path shows the professional development journey from an intern to a web developer to a senior developer, and largely focuses on the soft skills that someone would need to move up the ranks.

Trainer: Skills needed to succeed: training leadership instruction communicating to teach Courses: Training and Development (York U) Leadership Development in Small Organizations (University of Guelph) Educational Communication (University of Guelph)
Trainer: Skills needed to succeed: training leadership instruction communicating to teach Courses: Training and Development (York U) Leadership Development in Small Organizations (University of Guelph) Educational Communication (University of Guelph)
Senior developer: Skills needed to succeed: diversity, equity and inclusion data and information security leadership Courses: Creating a Culture of Inclusion (University of Guelph) Certificate in Information Privacy (York U) Leadership Essentials (Michigan State University)

Make Professional Development a Priority

Retain the great talent your organization has by helping them grow. D2L Wave is a free-to-use talent development solution that simplifies how employees find, request and register for professional development opportunities that align with an organization’s skill needs.

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