July 17 How Takashimaya keeps its staff

Takashimaya Shopping Centre, which opened in 1993, celebrates its 20th year in Singapore with staff who have been with themfor the same period of time. This is an important milestone, especially in a climate where staff retention is increasingly difficult.

The store's spokesman says: "The management recognises the importance of retail staff and managers plus promoters as they are at the forefront inmeeting with our customers. They are Takashimaya's best ambassadors as they bond with customers, which naturally keeps themcoming back.

"Every staff displays 'service of the heart' that helps to bond us as one at Takashimaya."

Its staff turnover attrition rate is below10 per cent. For the store, there is still the challenge of recruiting suitable staff who possess good service attitudes as well as younger employees who are willing to work on weekends and public holidays.

Staff with exceptional service and performance are recognised withmonthly staff awards and every two years, Staff of the Year recipients are entitled to an all-expenses paid trip to Japan plus a travel allowance of $800 each. Long-serving employees are also rewarded with gift vouchers.

The management principle of "putting people first" and "customers always come first" is a winning formula for them. Employees are given plenty of opportunities to upgrade themselves through training,mentorship and job rotation.

Senior retail assistant Susan Foo (top) and departmentmanager Abdul Halim have beenwith the company since day one.Mr Halimsays that having encouraging bosses who provide constructive advice and recognise his hard work contributed to his long service. Similarly, forMs Foo, training programmes have given her additional skills that she is able to put to good use andmake hermore confident to train others.