South-Western - Management  
Containing Top Staff
Topic Managing Individuals
Key Words turnover, job satisfaction, training, communication
InfoTrac Reference A95474452
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News Story 

The Container Store is a $300 million retailer of organizing products for home and office. As a member of the coveted 100 Best Companies to Work For list, The Container Store places a lot of emphasis on keeping its employees happy and motivated, which in turn results in satisfied customers.

Turnover at The Container Store is 8 percent among full time employees, and 20 percent among part-timers in an industry with an annual turnover rate of 120 percent. CEO Tindell attributes this to several factors:

  1. Only hire the best employees, which he defines as those willing and able to use their creativity, enthusiasm and intuition to devote themselves to customer service.
  2. All employees assist in the recruitment process.
  3. Employees are paid 50 to 100 percent more than the retail average.
  4. Every first year employee receives 235 hours of formal training, compared to an industry average of 7.
  5. Open communication includes daily distribution of sales results to every employee in the belief that communicating information empowers employees and strengthens their development and loyalty.
  6. Special events make working there fun.

Tindell believes that the retail industry’s perceptions about itself hold most companies back. He feels it is The Container Store’s willingness to buck the trend that makes them successful.

Questions
1.

The retail industry’s turnover rates far exceed The Container Store’s. Why do you think the retail industry, on average, has so much trouble retaining employees? What can a manager do to reduce turnover under difficult conditions?

2.

If you have a Container Store in your area, visit the store and talk to some of the employees. What did you learn about their job satisfaction and the reasons for it? In contrast, visit another kind of retail store and talk to employees there, did you notice a difference? If so, to what do you attribute the difference? Are the reasons ones that a manager could change without change on the corporate level?

Source David Lipke, "Containing Top Staff," WWD, Nov. 18, 2002, p. 22.
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