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Customer-Facing Workers Are More Likely to Quit; Rude Holiday Shoppers Could Make It Worse

  • Survey finds that retail workers believe customers treat them worse during the holidays
  • This belief predates the COVID-19 pandemic, but may raise concerns for customer-facing businesses suffering from labor shortages
  • How to responsibly stand up for your employees to improve morale and loyalty

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Sectors with a high degree of customer interaction, such as food service and retail, have seen their quits rate skyrocket during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The stress of the holiday season may worsen the exodus from these type of businesses.

A survey of 2,000 retail workers by the employee empowerment platform Jobcase, finds that 59 percent believe customers treat them worse around the holidays. About four in 10 worry that their employer doesn’t have adequate staffing to meet the holiday crowds or that they haven’t done enough to prepare for this crush.

The findings are in line with other surveys of customer-facing workers who say customer treatment has worsened in the past year. This has helped lead to increased turnover as well as difficulty in replacing departing workers, with employees seeking jobs with less customer interaction or pursuing education or training for a new career.

  • Customer rudeness around the holidays isn’t new; an article from the year 2000 discussed how trends similar to those today, namely increased demand on retailers and inadequate staffing, created a more unpleasant shopping environment
  • While the “customer is always right” ethos has typically been dominant, businesses have been more active in urging customers to be patient and understanding due to understaffing and other issues
  • Business leaders can help improve employee morale and confidence by sticking up for their workers when appropriate
  • Doing so necessitates an evaluation of the situation, determining what action to take, and seeking a diplomatic resolution to the problem rather than a confrontational one

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