Hearing the Voices of Frontline Employees in the Retail Industry on Engagement in the Workplace
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The purpose of this research is to explore the perceptions frontline employees working in New Zealand retail sector have on the concept of employee engagement and the role managers play in enhancing employee engagement so those working in frontline roles consider retail as a career option. This thesis topic stemmed from my personal experiences of working in retail where I observed how critical employee engagement was for organisational success and encouraging employees to choose retail as a viable career option. A qualitative methodology drawing on narrative inquiry shaped the research design with the data taken from ten, in-depth semi-structured interviews, providing insights to augment what is already known on this important topic. The findings reveal that there is a significant gap between the employees' expectations, understanding and awareness of the engagement concept in the retail industry, and the retailers' views, methods and plans to develop and embed this concept among frontline employees. Participants spoke of the important role of managers in creating engagement in the retail sector and how they can better align employee’s expectations so they might consider retail as a career. The research argues that the managerial level needs to be trained about the employees’ physiological aspects and that managers need to develop a greater depth of knowledge and relevant managerial practices in order to create a positive workplace environment. The recommendations specifically suggest that for employees to see retail as a viable long-term career path Managers need to look for ways to improve employee involvement and participation in decision making, internal communication and the work environment.