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Directory Blog

Sima Kumar Directory, Business Development...

Five Simple Secrets To Keeping Retail Temp Staff Happy

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Photo: Brooke Lark via Unsplash

A recurring topic of conversation between retail clients and Directory agency founders Javid Pathan and Younus Desai is the changing landscape of the relationship with brands and their employees. Whether it be placing candidates into permanent, fixed term contract or temp positions, candidates today are more vocal about what they want and what their ideal scenario is. This is a drastic change from relationship dynamics in the fashion retail industry from twenty years ago.

One of the growing areas of business for Directory is the Brand Partnerships service. A service that initially started with new to London brands such as Sézane and Emperor London, providing everything from admin, staffing, training, culture and onboarding services, this has now become a consulting service to new and existing retail clients. As recruiters have first line contact with candidates this provides invaluable direct feedback to hiring managers and supervisors to increase the effectiveness of their jobs while finding the best candidates. This is a key area where a culture of open and candid communication between clients and recruiters becomes an added value.

Here are 5 simple yet often overlooked secrets for retail clients to be more effective in managing temp employees to increase retainment and opportunity for candidates to move into permanent roles. 



As issues of equality, discrimination, fairness and privacy sit front and centre with companies with the new GDPR legislation, how people are being treated online and offline has become a hot topic. As companies are needing to evaluate and improve their internal systems to align with modern times, meritocracy is fast becoming the new normal. What does this mean for retailers looking for temp cover or fixed-term contracts to cover maternity leave or a leave of absence? In a nutshell, it means levelling the playing field. 


Photo: rawpixel via Unsplash

  1. RESPECT is now a two way street from the get-go. Gone are the days' temps were happy to be called in for a shift. This levelling of power is a radical change in the retail landscape. Millennials demand a sense of feeling valued from day one. This means even the most casual shift cover employee is more likely to become a loyal brand ambassador if they are treated as part of the permanent team. Sharing of information and access to training with supervisors vs. a buddy system of a senior sales associate. During the Directory onboarding process, candidates are thoroughly briefed on protocol and behaviour. Often times new recruits are meeting seasoned professionals with decades of experience. As culture dictates a more open, two-way conversation, the sub-culture - especially in luxury fashion still comes with a hierarchy. Directory advises and informs both candidates and clients of the changing times so there is a win-win middle ground. It’s always in the best interest of the hiring manager to communicate not just with their assistants or supervisors, but with staff that does come from a recruiter. This allows for direct feedback to the recruitment agency as well as provides the client with an opportunity to use their seniority to spot exceptional talent that can move into permanent roles more quickly. 

  2. KNOW YOUR PRODUCT seems simple enough. But let’s face it, the world of luxury can be intimidating. How does a student who is trying to make ends meet and gain access to fabric for their final project from LCF make the jump to handling a £20K Balenciaga coat or a £13K Chanel bag? This can only happen when senior staff encourage retail employees to handle and really get to know the product. I can speak to this myself as a former stylist, the more you see, touch and feel luxury items, the more your confidence grows. It’s always in the best interest of the brand to encourage employees to explore the racks, especially during downtime. Brands who let employees try on merchandise before a shift have come back with feedback stating the sales of that particular employee increase. It’s no secret that retailers are looking to increase customer experience via personalisation. The best piece of technology a luxury brand has in a world that is going mad on omnichannel and artificial intelligence is their human beings.

  3. VERTICALLY INTEGRATE ACCOUNTABILITY when delegating tasks. Often times it is an assistant manager or a supervisor who is held accountable. However, they aren’t the only team members who are in contact with customers. The more accountability placed across teams when it comes to processes surrounding customer queries, special requests, refunds, complaints - the better it is for the brand. Empowering all levels of staff with key information avoids those dreaded words a customer hates to hear “I don’t know”.  The saying knowledge is power is a saying for a reason.

  4. TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION is a key differentiator of the times. Whereas historically, retail conversations such as morning briefings were a one-way conversation from the most senior manager downloading teams on what is happening and what is a priority, the meetings of today are more collaborative. Recently a luxury brand client of Directory’s that implemented seeking an opinion from ALL staff, including temp workers, reported positive results in being able to retain temp workers on a more consistent level, learning information about customers they would not otherwise know due to never taking the opinions of temp workers into consideration and an overall feeling of a more unified team. 

  5. MONEY TALKS loud and clear. Brands who pay higher than minimum wage always end up getting the best staff from a recruitment agency. As temp workers exercise their right to want more freedom and flexibility, this results in turning down brands who don’t pay as much as brands who pay well. The very nature of temping means these individuals are looking for freedom, non-permanence to support either a full-time job, school or a side hustle. Therefore, any brand that delivers a more appealing package gets the attention of ideal recruits and in a world riddled with FOMO, OCD and seeing less value for money, paying above minimum wage is the best investment a brand can make and see the power of how much difference £1 can make.

Knowing how to keep up with changes in shifting mindsets and attitudes in effectively managing retail temp staff is key to continued success. In doing so, clients encourage and nurture potential and growth and in turn benefit from highly skilled workers who are more confident personally and with the product to become valued team members who contribute to overall sales goals and brand experience.

If you’re a brand looking to learn more about how Directory Brand Partnerships consulting can improve the quality of your teams and ways to integrate temp staff into your existing to optimise sales, team function and your sales goals, get in touch today. Email Younus Desai at younus@directory-group.com