Rise Performance Group

Learn from JC Penney’s Mistakes: 3 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover

By Christina Krenek

JC Penney has been making headlines, and not in a positive light. An article from The Washington Post shares the company’s latest news. First there was the brand’s makeover “disaster” which resulted in confused customers, angry employees and an 18.9 percent drop in same-store sales. Most recently, the company’s president, Michael Francis, has resigned after eight months.

So what went wrong? How could a company that was once so customer-friendly and family focused fail so badly? Everyone has their theories. In an article from Forbes titled, JC Penney’s Misfire: What Went Wrong, a fellow retail industry CEO said, “my feeling is that the company entered into a brand relaunch with the best of intentions; however those intentions were lofty to say the least.”

Who knew that Francis, the former chief marketing officer for Target and a 21-year retail veteran, would be leaving the company after only eight months. JC Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson has decided not to hire a replacement and will assume the responsibilities of overseeing the marketing and merchandising activities.

With the resignation of a president, companies can be faced with unhappy workers and employee turnover. An article from BusinessInsider got the inside scoop from store employees and sales associates about the changes and hardships they’re dealing with. One sales associate even quoted he will be quitting at the end of the month.

Let’s learn from JC Penney’s mistakes. From what some of the company’s employees quoted in BusinessInsider, here are three lessons to reduce employee turnover:

  • Reflect company values. An organization’s mission and beliefs are the heart of the company and should be seen throughout all departments. During JC Penney’s rebranding, the company seemed to stray from this. First, the core messaging strategy was not included in the store’s advertisements and the messages were altered multiple times. Such inconsistency confused both customers and employees. The new campaign also promises a “fair and square” shopping experience; but as a JC Penney sales associate quoted, the recent pay-cuts and fewer hours are certainly not fair and square. The promises you make to your customers should align with the promises you make to your employees!
  • Communicate with ALL employees. Poor communication is another reason why JC Penney is losing employees and customers. During the store’s makeover, the CEO’s message to employees was to “change and adapt.” But change for sales associates creates fear and uncertainty. One shoe sales person said, “Every week is different and it’s hard to see where they are going with some of the changes.” Effective communication is essential. All employees in the company, from C-level executives to frontline salespeople, need to be on the same page.
  • Respect employees. With all the miscommunication, pay-cuts and confusion, some of JC Penney’s employees are feeling undervalued. One employee said that he feels the CEO, Ron Johnson, “cares more about the stakeholders’ interests than the employees.” All employees need to be respected for their contributions. Once employees begin to feel devalued, productivity and company morale are in trouble! Don’t let that happen to you. Show your employees you care. Here are four great tips for motivating sales people with recognition and praise.

Has your organization ever been through a change like JC Penney’s? How do you deal with employee turnover?

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