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Having Problems With Hourly Employees?

Updated on July 21, 2013

Do You Need Employee Help?


“Being liked by your employees is good, only if it allows you to stay in business.

Being popular with your employees is great if it doesn’t cost you your businesss.

Being liked, respected, ethical, and profitable is perfection! Rich Gordon

There are many sharp and hard-working people in retail. Thank goodness! There are also never enough of these people out there and that is a problem you will need to solve for yourself. However, hourly retail help cannot be paid the kind of money that many other jobs command, and as a result, the small shop owner finds himself working with a younger or less well-trained pool of talent. For this reason, it becomes even more important for you to stay ahead of the game, by knowing what troubles and worries your young, less skilled hourly employees may have in store for you. Are we communicating here?

You must set clear rules and expectations for younger workers and clearly spell the rules out for them.

Then Enforce Those Rules!

I’m talking about common sense employee behavior here. . . like showing up for work (and showing up on time). The more you can anticipate what younger or less responsible workers might do to you, the better. Part of the solution is also developing good systems and procedures for handling everything, and then assure your employees are trained to follow the systems without fail.

If you think about it, systems and procedures are the only reason McDonalds survives and excels. Once you have a system and a set of principals you intend to operate by, you can train, reinforce and remind them of your expectations. After that you must train, reinforce and remind employees again and again. Then and only then, you’ll have fewer unpleasant fires to put out and life will be easier for you! Do I make myself clear here? Following are some specific and valuable truisms from someone who has weathered the storms of lower-wage workers . . . ME!

  • If you tolerate inadequate performance or conduct from time to time, it is almost guaranteed that you will be living with poor and inadequate performance and conduct as a part of your standard business practices and culture down the line.
  • Initial sloppy appearances or dress that pushes the limits of acceptable will generally progress towards more frequent or more outrageous appearance whether you have a dress code or not.
  • Small and infrequent cash shortages in the cash drawer will generally progress to larger and more regular shortages.
  • Rudeness or indifference towards customers observed once or twice are signs and symptoms of many more situations that are not observed.
  • Employees who are occasionally delayed in showing up for work will generally progress to becoming more consistently late.
  • Cell phone and text message usage during working hours is not a guaranteed right under the constitution.
  • An occasional poor closing routine at the end of the day will generally become more frequent.
  • Poor cleaning habits today increase to lousier cleaning habits over time.
  • Any habits that are less than tolerable from one employee will often spread like a slow moving disease across the staff.

Keep it in mind! You, as the boss, want as much productivity for your dollar as possible. That is your job! On the other hand, you're employees see their job as pushing the envelope of what is acceptable and avoidable within your store. This is what younger(especially) and lightly supervised employees do!


Poor performance or unacceptable behavior cannot become acceptable! (If at all possible, purchase a video system that allows monitoring of your store from your notebook computer at anytime. Let your employees know they will be monitored.)

  • “Trust, but verify.” Ronald Reagan

From the first interview and first day of hiring onward, attendance and punctuality must be emphasized as a critical factor in each and every employee’s performance. This should be outlined in some written employee policies that each and every employee must sign and date. This keep this signed policy form somewhere where no one else can find it. Even after siging your written policy, this still needs to be stressed numerous times (not once or twice). Clearly explain that any absence without notification will be considered cause for dismissal. Assuming YOU value and understand the importance of your discipline in this policy, then YOU must let your people know that you mean it. Anyone who has to be absent for any reason must notify their manager at least two-three hours prior to their scheduled time on the job. Inform your people that more notice is highly preferable and expected if at all possible. Here are some additional important expectations that should become written policies and should be acknowledged in writing/signed off by any new employee.

1.Repeated tardiness may result in loss of hours or dismissal.

2.Any employee may be fired immediately and without advance notice for any of the following reasons:

  • a.Theft or proven dishonesty
  • b.Violation of company cash handling procedures, including under-ringing
  • c.Falsifying company reports or records
  • d.Deliberate destruction or damage of personal or company property
  • e.Embezzlement
  • f. Absence without notification.
  • f. Possessing firearms on company property or on company hours
  • g.Knowingly and willfully completing or clocking in another employee’s timecard or allowing another employee to do the same to yours
  • h. Using or being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol while on the premises. Receiving, selling or distributing illegal drugs on the premises.

3.Disciplinary action or termination may result from any of the following:

  • a.Insubordination
  • b.Rudeness or any action while on company time that might discredit or result in loss of goodwill toward the company
  • c.Failure to report a sale or refund at the time of the transaction
  • d.Falsely claiming sick leave
  • e.Any negligent or intentional action that results in injury to yourself or to others, or action that may result in damage to the company’s or others’ personal property
  • f.Undependable attendance
  • g.Failure to abide by company dress code
  • h.Failure to treat all customers and individuals on company property equally and with respect, regardless of race, sex or color
  • i.Trading hours with another employee when it results in the absence of either employee
  • j.Willful violation of company safety and loss prevention procedures
  • k.Allowing friends to linger or hang out around the store
  • l. Failure to treat customers equally regardless of race, sex or religion.

One More Important Concept For Your Employees

There is one more very important concept to explain to your people (as nicely as possible). If you can get this into your head, as well as that of your employee’s, you will be much better in the long run. In fact, I have raised my children to clearly understand this concept, and as a result, I believe they have a real advantage in life over those who do not understand it.

Giving someone a job within in store that is capable of affording the employee all of the gadgets, automobiles and a great lifestyle that we all would like, is not a guaranteed right in the U.S. Constitution. Your purpose is to service customers and stay in business if your customers allow it. Your business works for its customers and your employees work for your business. No customers = No business = No jobs and no raises.

Raises cannot and should not be routine or guaranteed. If lousy employees didn’t get automatic or expected raises, then those employees who do deserve them would probably get more respectable and deserved raises in this world. Raises are not awards for the length of time someone has been around. Raises (meaning, from your profits) are for people who make themselves more valuable to you and are likewise harder to replace. Economics and the laws of supply and demand that more valuable employees should be paid more! Employees who are not valuable or easy to replace are a dime-a-dozen. Those who are a dime a dozen are worth the lowest going wage and not much more. Employees who become more valuable over time obviously contribute more to your success and bottom line and thus deserve your appreciation.

You owe your employees a wage that they are willing to work for and training that allows them to become more valuable at the job you expect from them. I’m afraid this is in direct contradiction to too many of our society who believe everyone owes them and should expect little or nothing in return.

The above policies are not meant to be complete but only to give an idea as to what expectations and policies should apply to all employees.

©2012 Retail Redefined and RetailRichez


Pre-employement assessments are now affordable for any small business, as long as you use the right tests. You can head off a lot of troubles with these very sophisticated tools. Follow me and watch for further discussion of this wonderful aid!

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    • profile image

      Rumesa 6 years ago

      right on ! (Y)