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How to Reduce First Day No Shows in Retail

Zac Francis
Zac Francis

Finding the perfect addition to join your retail workforce is never an easy task, and just when you think you have found the right person, they may unexpectedly not turn up on their first day. 

In retail, a no show is someone who successfully navigates the application and interview process, only to disappear when their first day on the job comes around. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is incredibly common. Roughly 83% of employers have experienced first day no-shows. 

You might be asking yourself, ‘Is it something I did?’—maybe. But don’t be too hard on yourself. There are many reasons why someone doesn’t turn up to their first shift, and they’re not always to do with the business.

However, there are steps you can take to reduce first day no shows and make sure that new hires are prepared to start their new roles. Keep reading to find out.

Quick navigation:

  1. Why do new starters not show up to their first shift?
  2. What's the impact of no shows on your business?
  3. 4 ways to reduce first day no shows in your retail store

Why don't retail employees show up to their first shift?

Why do new starters not show up to their first shift?

In order to reduce your first day no-shows, it’s important to understand why people don’t turn up.

They lost interest

For many individuals, time is everything. Securing a job in this day and age is often a lengthy process, with multiple interview stages and an initial application that reads like a novel. 

Once this has been completed, employees don’t want to be waiting around to start their job. Yes, bringing in someone new involves a lot of paperwork. However, for those without work, 2 weeks can feel like 2 months. 

If your business is taking its time to onboard new employees, then you risk losing them. And chances are, if you view them as the perfect addition, then someone else does too. 40% of workers who didn’t show up on their first day did so because they received a better job offer.

Poor application process

Your application process says a lot about your company. A slow and clunky experience that fails to utilize technology could leave your new recruit feeling unmotivated and thinking your business is failing to change with the times. 

Additionally, a lack of information on your end—about the role and company values—fails to provide the new starter with excitement about their new job. Remember, it’s not just the applicants who need to highlight what they can offer.

Companies that ask a lot of their applicants while offering very little in return will find it difficult not only to recruit applicants but to also make sure they turn up on their first day.

They face uncertainity

As humans, we’re terrible at dealing with uncertainty. We always want to be sure about what will happen next, so we can do our utmost to prepare and ensure everything works out well. 

This evolutionary desire extends to the world of work and retail. Starting a new job can be a scary experience that is littered with uncertainty. What will my role be? Who am I working with? What if I’m not very good at the job? These are just some of the questions that plague the mind of a new starter. 

And if left unanswered, they cause a growing anxiety that causes many new starters to stay at home. In fact, 80% of working professionals experience nerves when starting a new job.

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What's the impact of no shows on your business?

Lost productivity

This one makes sense. You have brought in a new addition because the business demands it, and when they don’t turn up, you're either forced to demand more from your current workforce, or you abandon their job role until you find a replacement. Either way, you’re suffering a loss of productivity. 

How much productivity is lost is dependent on your business. However, some studies estimate unplanned absences have, on average, a productivity loss of 36.9%.  

Wasted hiring costs

Hiring in retail is an expensive process. In the US, the average cost per hire is around $4000. From the moment you put out the ad, to finalizing paperwork for your new hire to begin their career, everything costs. And when the no show occurs, you need to repeat the process again. 

It’s also a time-consuming process. From paid HR hours searching for new talent, to filling out the relevant paperwork, time dedicated to the process goes to waste when the new hire doesn’t turn up.

Impact on customer experience

In retail, the customer experience is everything. It’s a difficult thing to master as it incorporates numerous elements that range from staff training to store layout. It’s a finely tuned process, and a no show in work can unravel the whole thing. 

It might take the form of poor customer service, with your workforce stretched thin trying to attend to every customer while meeting the expected service standard. If customers feel ignored, they might end up leaving the store. 

Or maybe the new recruit specialized in scheduling, and now you find yourself struggling to designate shifts on a system you don’t fully understand.

This is especially problematic in 2022, where consumers expect more than ever—82% of consumers expect retailers to meet their expectations.

Talent shortage

94% of retailers are worried about a talent shortage within the industry. Factors including burnout, lack of relevant skills, and lack of industry appeal contribute to this shortage, and finding the perfect fit for your business is becoming increasingly difficult. 

A no show means you’ll need to put your hand back in the talent pool, but there’s no guarantee you’ll find a candidate with the skill set and experience you’re looking for. This is more problematic if you need a role filled immediately. 

How to reduce first day no shows in retail

4 ways to reduce first day no shows in your retail store

1. Ask for feedback

Having a new hire not show up to their first shift doesn’t need to be a purely negative experience. In fact, it’s an opportunity to learn about the flaws in your store’s hiring process and correct them—preventing further no show’s down the line and making sure future sales associates are better prepared for their first day. 

Ask for feedback from those who didn’t turn up, finding out why and what you could do differently in the process. You’ll never reduce your no show’s to zero, but continuously fine-tuning your hiring procedure will help to bring the number down.

2. Streamline your application process

Just because your new starter was successful during the application process, doesn’t mean they enjoyed the experience. A slow and clunky process can leave retail employees feeling demoralized and put off the role before they even start. 

Try streamlining the process, only asking what’s necessary from your applicants. Keep in mind that people are usually unwilling to spend more than 15 minutes applying for one job. If you’re asking them to tell their life story and partake in a four-step process, not only do you risk putting off talent from applying, but you’re also sending a message to your new starter that this is a difficult store to work for. 

Lean on technology to help make the application process a seamless one and reduce dropoff at the same time. Can they apply for your job from their mobile? Considering the widespread use of smartphones, this is now a must for retailers looking to hire. You might also want to consider utilizing high-volume hiring platforms— such as Fountain—that are designed to reduce friction and optimize your application process.

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3. Communicate the value of joining your team

In other words, highlight what makes your store so great. Employees want to feel emotionally connected with their employer, and this applies to new recruits too. So outline your store’s mission and vision, and work on fostering employee engagement before they have even started. It’s no secret that an engaged employee is less likely to be absent. In fact, highly engaged workplaces saw 41% lower absenteeism.  

And don’t forget to talk about the perks and benefits that come with the job. These remain highly valued by people, with 80% of people reporting a preference of better benefits over a higher salary. This is where retailers thrive, with studies revealing that part-time jobs in retail are more likely to provide core benefits than other industry employers. 

4. Provide preboarding training

Providing preboarding training has two major benefits. First, it can provide your new starter with a strong foundation of retail knowledge that will later make the onboarding process a seamless one. 

Secondly, it can provide your employee with a better idea of their job role and help settle any first day nerves they might have. As previously stated, uncertainty is a big problem for us, but if you can reduce the amount of unanswered questions your new starter has, you stand a better chance of them turning up. For example, providing a new store associate with information on dress code, parking, and what they’ll need to bring for their first day, can go a long way towards easing their anxiety.

Preboarding training can prove logistically difficult for retailers as you’ll need to communicate with your employee outside of the store. By leveraging mobile learning, you’ll be able to deliver relevant, bitesize lessons directly to their personal devices. This means they can complete lessons in their own time, at their own pace, and can revisit information if they’re unsure. 

If you’re looking to reduce no shows at your retail store, eduMe can help. Our seamless learning platform helps businesses deliver one-tap access to preboarding and onboarding training, helping to engage new hires from day one and give them everything they need to succeed in their new role. Our customers have actually seen a double digit increase in hires completing their first shift thanks to our seamless learning technology.

Get in touch with us now to see how we can help you boost new hire retention 👇