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Building Rapport Among Store Employees: What You Can Do

Running a physical or retail store in the time of a pandemic can be rewarding but also incredibly stressful. There are so many new considerations to always take into account. These include health experts’ recommendations for mask-wearing and social distancing and to protect your employees against being infected by the virus.

One of the ways we can ease up on the stress is by creating good connections and relationships with each other. If you are running a physical or retail store and want you and your employees to have harmonious relationships, here are some tips for building rapport for your team.

Encourage small talks during breaks

The simplest and easiest way to build rapport among you and your team members is to encourage everyone to connect during breaks. Water cooler talk is less stressful for you more introverted employees than, say, making everyone attend a mandatory company dinner.

As a manager or owner, the culture must start with you. Take five minutes out of your day to chat with one of your employees during your fifteen-minute breaks or lunchtime. Ask them about their family life and how they ended up working in your store if you don’t already know the back story.

Be sincere as you ask them questions, but don’t broach their boundaries. Remind them that they are free to answer or not answer according to their comfort level. Once your employees see that their boss is friendly and engaging, they might be more inclined to take your cue and be open with their colleagues as well.

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Maintain a healthy work environment

So many factors can go into a toxic work culture. If the daily processes are confusing, and if good models and plans are poorly executed, then you can kiss your dream of a healthy work environment goodbye. Here are some tips for ensuring that your store’s day-to-day operations are running smoothly and that everyone is maintaining their well-being:

  • Opt for an excellent business model. For example, if you are only in the process of envisioning your grocery store, consider looking into supermarket franchise opportunities instead of building one from the ground up. Franchises tend to have their own following and reputation. There are so many benefits to franchising a known name. You would have support for your operations, and you would know that their business model works because they’ve had experiences with success and failure. You get to localize and contextualize their franchise according to your community’s needs. With a well-thought-out business plan and good execution, your employees will be more likely to enjoy working in the store because every aspect of the machinery is running as seamlessly as it needs to.
  • Encourage healthy communication. Tell everyone in your team that your door is always open for any of their concerns and that you are always willing to receive feedback on how you can make things better. The sooner conflicts are dealt with, the lesser time for wounds and bitterness to fester among the people involved.
  • Improve your hiring practices so that the people you invite on board are those who have some history of managing conflict well. That’s not to say you only need to hire perfect employees who have never had problems with their bosses, since people can also change, but at least find people that also have a history of learning from their relational mistakes.

Celebrate victories and teamwork

If your store sets some goals and you could meet them, don’t hesitate to celebrate those victories, no matter how small they may be. Your employees need to know that their efforts are appreciated and that the management knows how hard they work.

At the same time, you also need to cultivate a culture of celebrating teamwork and collaboration, even if specific goals are not met. If what we’re appreciating is people’s effort and not just their output, then it follows that your employees will still appreciate words of encouragement and tokens of appreciation, as long as you know they worked hard indeed.

Avoid placing too much weight on store hierarchies and ensuring that everyone, from management to employees, feels like their efforts are being recognized.

Since grocery stores and similar physical outlets are an essential service, the employees in these establishments have the privilege to maintain connections in the real world and not just through Zoom and Slack. Make this experience something that your employees are grateful for instead of resentful through genuine connections and harmonious working relationships. Good luck and keep each other safe!

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