I don’t remember when I first noticed the seasonal shifts in retail merchandising displays. I do remember that Halloween costumes appeared after school started in September; Thanksgiving cards and Pilgrim hats were on display only weeks before Thanksgiving; and the arrival of Christmas decorations and toys usually coincided with the arrival of Santa at the local mall in early December.
Of course that has all changed and now the holiday related merchandise seems to appear almost overnight and quickly replaces what was there just moments before. The newest “stuff” gets priority shelving and is concentrated where impulse buys are most likely to occur – near the checkout station.
Now that online shopping is poised to outpace brick and mortar sales throughout the year, retailers are continually seeking ways to entice customers to buy more of what they want and need and even what they don’t really want or need. The constantly changing landscape of consumer demands is met with constantly changing packaging, promotions, and pricing.
In thinking about our workplaces, there seems to be a similar trend that values changing the look and feel of the organization from a short-term and somewhat superficial perspective. We often upgrade the hardware and software, replace the worn out furnishings, or create new branding – all in an effort to revitalize the people who actually occupy the space. While these changes can clearly be necessary and may contribute to some spikes in staff satisfaction or morale, they don’t always make a lasting difference.
If we think of ourselves as savvy shoppers in the workplace as well as the retail market, we remember what really matters:
Quality of products and services;
Valuing of internal and external customers; and
Combining the old (what still works) with the new (what needs to change) rather than changing everything on the “shelves” when just some items are outdated.
Revitalizing our workplaces is a shared responsibility. Before the end of the year (and before the Valentines hit the card racks), take some time to explore what team members really want so they won’t be constantly searching for the next big sale. Be honest about how well your “merchandising” conveys your vision and values and make the necessary adjustments in your displays. And find ways to honor the practices and traditions that made your organization great – especially if it’s time to replace them with a new and improved version.
Whether you love or hate to shop, look for ways to make your work experience one that is characterized by the energy and enthusiasm depicted in ads for products that have just hit the market. Remember the fundamentals while trending with the times. Recognize that a constantly changing focus may lead to a liquidation sale of human and other resources.
What’s on sale now? Make sure the answer to that is not your organization!