Case Studies

The job seems the same, but the best employees are different

StellarEmploy worked with two Home Improvement Centers to fill floor sales positions. These companies had very similar stock supplies and clients. In fact, they occasionally hired former employees from the other location, on the grounds that those employees needed less training.

When we begin working with a new client, we evaluate a sample of their current employees to better understand the type of person who excels with that employer. Our hypothesis working with each of these clients was that their target employee would be quite similar, given the similarities of the job.

However, we discovered that the ideal employee was actually quite different between each Home Improvement Center, and that great employees with one employer might not do well with the other.

The StellarEmploy evaluation includes a section on preferences, in particular, four areas that motivate employees. These areas are connected with how much effort and satisfaction an employee gets on the job. Everyone is a little bit motivated by each characteristic, but some are stronger than others. These motivations include: Family (motivated by providing for family, preference for job stability and control over one’s schedule); Quality (worker bees who find satisfaction in a job well done and prefer a stable working environment); Achievement (motivated by the opportunity for a promotion or other incentives, thrive in chaos); and Income (motivated by incentive pay). For an in-depth review of what these types of motivations mean in a workplace environment, check out our blog post about it.

Between the two Homecenters, we found that employees in Homecenter A were much more motivated by Quality than employees in Homecenter B: 30% vs. 10%. We also found that employees in Homecenter B were much more motivated by Achievement than employees in Homecenter A, 40% to 19%.

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When StellarEmploy followed up with each client, we discovered that the biggest rewards that Homecenter A offered were through meeting store-wide sales targets. In other words, individual sales contributed to a salesperson’s incentive pay, but a better way to increase store sales was to keep the aisles clean and clear, to be friendly to the shoppers, and to overall provide a positive shopping experience in order to keep shoppers in the store longer, and coming back more. The store often hired people at the managerial level rather than promoting internally.

Meanwhile, Homecenter B emphasized career longevity with their employees. All of their managers had begun as floor salespeople. Better salespeople received more flexibility on schedule and could move to “better” departments (the paint department was viewed as undesirable because it smelled, the lighting department was viewed as desirable because it did not require carrying heavy items to shoppers’ cars). The employer’s emphasis on achieving increasing benefits in the company led to successful employees motivated by achieving recognition through accessing those benefits.

These little personality traits have big impact on employee outcome
At Homecenter A, our discoveries about employee motivation had large impacts on their turnover. StellarEmploy’s evaluation was three times more effective in predicting who would still be in their job as a floor salesperson after one year than the interview process that the client was already using. (Unfortunately, we did not have a baseline evaluation for Homecenter B).

What employers learned by understanding their employees
Understanding the way their employees were motivated did not just help employers reduce turnover. It also helped them to understand how their employees perceived company culture. Homecenter A was pleasantly surprised to learn that their group incentive structure did not motivate aggressive selling in their employees, but rather helped create a better shopping experience. This information contributed to an internal debate about whether to introduce an individual commissions component, which they ultimately chose to postpone.
Homecenter B was pleased to see their emphasis on internal promotion impacted the types of employees who succeeded there.

There are many ways to manage a floor sales team, and there is no method that is best. The most important thing is to understand how the structure impacts the types of employees who succeed in the company, and search for employees who best align with the chosen management structure.