How Store Layout Affects Employee Happiness

How Store Layout Affects Employee Happiness
Philip Adcock
In Business

So much time and money is invested into shopper insight, as we all work hard to make our shop layouts as appealing as possible. But, did you know that your staff are the one of the most import factors on whether someone buys or bails?

Staff engagement not only decreases absenteeism and staff turnover, but also leads to an increase in customer service, productivity and sales.

So much time is spent deciding which lighting is best for the fitting room, or which items to put at eye level, that we can neglect thinking about how our staff are responding to the shopping behaviour analysis techniques you’re implementing throughout your store. Take a back step and consider this: is your store layout damaging sales by causing unhappy staff? We’re here to help you figure this out.

Your Staff Spend Half Their Waking Hours On Your Shop Floor

In an average forty-hour working week, from Monday to Friday, half of your staff’s waking time is spent on the shop floor. This means that if you create a negative environment for them, their mental and physical health will be paying the price — and so will your profit margins. Shopper insight has shown us that we need to create a customer experience that provides a safe and comfortable space, but this also impacts your staff.

Behavioural research tells us that where we spend most of our time impacts our stress levels and well-being. Wide, open-plan spaces are beneficial, as they foster a feeling of calm, while small, cramped aisles will create a feeling of stress. Small features that may not bother customers could have a dramatic effect on your employees, simply because of the amount of their life they’re spending in your store.

Happy Employees Means Happy Customers

Your store sets the emotional tone for both your customers and your employees. In a recent survey, it was shown that 89% of customers have stopped doing business with a company because they received poor customer service. If your environment is having a damaging effect on your staff, that will have a knock-on effect on your customers. So much emphasis is put on giving customers and positive and happy purchasing experience, but perhaps not enough is placed on creating a healthy environment for your staff.

A classic example of thinking about the customers but not the staff is Abercrombie and Fitch, who became so caught up reaching its target demographic that it failed to consider its staff would be spending their working hours — which are almost always daylight hours in retail — in a dark room with loud, pumping music; essentially a club environment.

Because of eventual falling sales when the novelty wore off for consumers, Abercrombie and Fitch has now redesigned its stores to have windows, less fragrance and quieter music. Until then, staff reported that at the end of the working day, they would be unable to see due to their eyes requiring time to readjust and their eyes would be painful for days afterwards. While the store design might have been popular with teenagers seeking a different shopping experience, the staff paid the price with their health.

Bring Light to Your Employees’ Lives

In the case of Abercrombie and Fitch, the novelty of the brand may have been enough to carry sales when the store was dark, but it could have been damaging their employees. Being exposed to natural sunlight is important to keep our circadian rhythm correct and to improve our moods through vitamin D. Without at least a little exposure to sunlight every day, you can suffer depression, insomnia and lack of concentration and enthusiasm.

If you’re keeping your store dark, or if you haven’t got windows and a natural source of sunlight, your employees could be more moody and less motivated than if your store is sunlit and airy. Bringing sunlight into your store could help your employees’ job satisfaction, mental health and, consequently, your sales, as they become happier and more motivated to provide excellent customer service.

Feng Shui or Not Feng Shui — That is the Question

Shopper insight has shown that using Feng Shui techniques can improve your sales, as creating a harmonious outer environment can ensure harmony in the mind of the shopper and an increased desire to make a purchase. Your employees, though, can also benefit from a harmonious work environment. Features like plants and careful furniture arrangement will create a better atmosphere for your employees, and better customer service as a result.

Something that’s often overlooked by retailers who are attempting to make a statement for customers is the effect of colour schemes on their staff. You can use colour theory to alter the mindset of your customers, but it will also alter the mindset of your staff and could create a negative work environment. It’s best to stick to more neutral tones if you don’t want to risk upsetting your staff, which can then have a negative effect on your customers.

With all the attention of store layout being on the customer, the emphasis is often taken away from the employee and their own effect on sales. It’s time to make sure we have happy, comfortable staff and that we’re not sacrificing their happiness in an attempt to make sales, shooting ourselves in the foot in the process.

Philip Adcock

About Philip Adcock

Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd: a shopping research organisation that uses psychological insight to explain and predict how consumers will behave. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco and B&Q.

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