A Full-Time Staff Brings Big-Time Benefits



In retail, employing a staff of part-time help is pretty much the standard. But would you be better off with more full-time employees in your aisles?

This very well may be the case, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).

The story details how several retailers and restaurants have reaped significant rewards by increasing their ratio of full-time staff, a premise that is supported by broader studies, such as one conducted by consulting firm Korn Ferry Hay Group. Together, they illustrate how utilizing a full-time-oriented approach to staffing can improve the profitability of a retail business.

For example, according to the Korn Ferry report cited in the article, 27 percent of full-time hourly workers leave their jobs each year, versus 68.7 percent of part-timers. At Sheetz, an Altoona, Pa.-based chain of convenience stores/gas stations, the disparity is even larger. There, less than a quarter of full-time staff leave their job each year, on average, versus more than 80 percent of part-timers.

This can have huge implications for hiring and training costs, as evidenced by Cincinnati-based Buffalo Wings & Rings, which reported that doubling its share of full-time staff has produced a 25-percent decrease in training costs. Similarly, Sheetz found that lowering its voluntary turnover rate by just two percentage points saved the company nearly $1 million in recruiting and training costs.

In addition to saving businesses money, low turnover rates can also ultimately drive sales. A consistent staff is likely to be more knowledgeable about the products in your store and familiar with your customers. This, combined with the higher level of engagement that is often associated with full-time employment, can go a long way in helping to increase register rings. In fact, in the WSJ article, Buffalo Wings & Rings reported that its full-time employees’ sales per hour are as much as six percent higher than those of part-time employees. I doubt that is a coincidence.

While the approach of increasing the ratio of full-time employees has apparently worked out for the companies discussed in the WSJ article, pet retailers can find similar examples right here in the pet specialty channel. Executives at Mud Bay—the Tumwater, Wash.-based pet store chain that was Pet Business’ 2015 Retailer of the Year—reported last year that it had increased the percentage of full-time store staff from about 50 to 80 percent over the past several years.

Carrying that much full-time staff does come with challenges, though. For example, spreading work hours across a smaller pool of employees can make it more difficult to cover sick time. And it simply may not be easy to find enough hours for everyone. Mud Bay has been creative in addressing these issues by developing a floater program through which employees work in multiple stores.

Of course, going this route is not going to be right for every business, and only you can decide the right mix of full-time and part-time employees for your store. But if benefits like those described above are in play, it is certainly worthwhile to consider turning your collection of part-time help into a full-time team.


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