Using Micro Markets To Drive Up Employee Retention Numbers

May 3, 2018

The war for talent continues. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) the first concern in this war is retention and recruitment of employees, which can be an important selling strategy for the micro market concept. Micro markets provide not only convenient eats and drinks onsite, but can be used to inspire employees, increase productivity and ultimately as a selling point for a company.

Group of Employees at Lunch

Companies need employees

Each year SHRM produces a report of the leading issues human resource managers face across the U.S. At the top of the list, chosen by 47 percent, was the struggle to retain employees and reduce turnover. Next highest was recruiting new, talented employees to the company, at 36 percent. This clearly shows that middle- and large-sized companies need assistance getting employees in the door and liking the places they work. Micro markets can help.

A place to take breaks

Vending machines offer a way to provide food and drinks to employees so they don't have to leave the location when thirsty or hungry. Micro markets take this a step further, and invite people into a space not only for refreshment, but to take a break and talk to co-workers. Research done in 2011 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign proved that brief breaks while performing tasks kept performance high. Without breaks, performance decreased over the course of 50 minutes. Micro markets designed specifically to facilitate the congregating and socializing of employees away from their desks for a few minutes can have a huge impact on productivity.

Happiness and culture

Happy employees work harder, points out research from the University of Warwick. Economists found that happiness caused people to be 12 percent more productive when performing tasks. What makes people happy at work? Gallup research points to feeling connected as one aspect of being happy at work. Break areas designed to provide a space for collaboration or conversation can create this atmosphere. It can help co-workers build friendships and strong bonds that will ultimately make them happier with the company and more productive at their job.

Improved design

One difficulty micro market operators have is how much design should be involved. A micro market can be a simple rack and cooler system. On the other side of the spectrum, micro markets can be a more elaborate lounge concept with graphic topped displays and partnerships between the operator and the location on the entire seating and collaboration area. To reap the greatest rewards, micro markets that will reduce turnover and lure new employees fit better in the second category. Not only will it create a place for employees, but it will help the operator stand out.

Offer a better atmosphere

An article in's Micro Market Design newsletter discussed how failing to adapt to the trend of style and design in a workplace refreshment area opens the door to competitors. The basic micro market fixtures used to be enough to make customers rave, but six years into the micro market trend, this is no longer the case. Steve Orlando, previous operator and co-founder of micro market fixture company, Fixturelite, explains that facility managers, and especially human resource managers, are driven to give employees a refreshment area that is not only attractive, but also a place to relax, collaborate and refuel. He says today's most favored design elements include dramatic LED lighting under shelves, retail displays designed with consumer psychology in mind, comfortable seating environments that are inviting and facing coolers to give the entire market a cohesive, well-executed appearance.

Online bragging area

SHRM noted in its research that one reason companies could be struggling with employee recruitment is social media and online review sites that allow employees to rate employers. These have opened a window that allow potential employees to see inside of an organization. A micro market creates another positive attribute to talk about on social media. It can feature in operator-related promotions and online contests. Or it can be something the location features as part of the benefit package and positive atmosphere in that workplace.

In the end, micro markets address the human experience at work in the break room. Medium and large companies are struggling with employment, and a micro market is the way operators can help make it easier.