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How To Hire Employees for a Small Organic Grocery Store

If you own a small but growing organic grocery store, finding the right staff is essential to keep your business running smoothly. But that can be easier said than done. With one of the highest employee turnover rates in the retail industry, hiring (and retaining) grocery store employees can be a real headache.

Add on that many small organic grocery stores may not have hired before and it can seem downright impossible. But don’t worry — with a little know-how, you’ll be finding great employees in no time. 

In this article, we’ll cover some of the big challenges in grocery store hiring and give you a rundown on how to hire employees for small organic grocery stores.

Challenges of Organic Grocery Store Hiring

  • As a small business, finding (and keeping) great staff is a must. But that can be easier said than done. Organic grocery stores have some unique hiring challenges, including:

  • High turnover rates: Grocery stores can experience a high employee turnover rate, which strains owners who need to find and train new employees.

  • Shift variability and seasonality: Supermarkets and grocers often experience higher than normal volume around certain holidays and times of year. The need for flexible hours can also make finding staff a challenge.

  • Cultural fit: Moreso than big grocery chains, employees at small grocery stores interact directly with customers. That makes finding someone who understands the business and fits in with your culture a must.

  • Regulatory compliance: Adhering to labor laws and regulations, especially for minors or non-standard employment contracts, adds another layer of complexity to the hiring process in grocery stores.

These challenges, along with a competitive job market, can make hiring at a small grocery store tough. But as a small business, you also have some advantages that big competitors don’t.

So, while you might not have the resources of a big company, you do have the personal connection, flexibility, and opportunities for career growth that they lack. Use them to your advantage!

Related Read: How To Start a Grocery Store: 8 Simple Steps

How To Hire and Retain Great Organic Grocery Store Employees

Even if your grocery store has self-checkout or other convenient self-serve options, you’ll eventually need to hire new employees to maintain a high level of customer service. And as your business grows, finding reliable, friendly employees is a must.

Hiring at a small grocer can feel intimidating, but we’re here to help. 

Here is a step-by-step process for how to hire employees for a small organic grocery store (along with a few points for keeping great talent).

1. Get Set Up Legally

First things first, if you’re hiring employees for the first time, ensure you’re set up correctly on the legal side. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a helpful summary of everything you need to stay compliant with employment and tax laws.

Here are a few of the items you’ll need (if you don’t have them already) before you start searching for candidates:

Don’t rush through this step or wait until you’ve hired someone to get started. It might be a pain, but making sure your business is on the level will make life a lot easier in the long run.

2. Create a Job Description

With the legal requirements figured out, you can move on to the fun stuff. Or, at least it should be fun. This is the point where you get to think through not only what tasks you want your employees to do but also what kind of person you’re looking for. 

A job description gives jobseekers an introduction to your organic grocery and what they can expect to do. While it’s important to stay concise, don’t be afraid to put in a little personality either. It’s a competitive job market and a great, personable job description can help you stand out compared to a dry or impersonal one.

A job description should include:

    1. Job title: A short and specific job title like “Store Manager” or “Cashier”.
    2. Summary of the position: 2-3 sentences about what the position is and what they should expect to do at a high level.
    3. A mission statement or company overview: People are drawn not just to a job but to a good company culture. Having a small paragraph that outlines who you are and what your mission is can ensure you find candidates who are a good cultural fit.
    4. Responsibilities: A bulleted list of the tasks and responsibilities in the role.
    5. Hours: For shift work, letting employees know what shifts you’re after (or how flexible you are) can help sway any on-the-fence job searchers.
    6. Requirements: If you have any particular requirements (previous experience, education, etc.) list them, along with any nice to haves.
    7. Pay: While it might be your first instinct to not include wages in your job description, it’s important to set clear expectations for what your employees will earn upfront.

The job description also gives you a chance to think through the types of soft skills and personality traits you’re after. For small organic grocers, a great employee can be invaluable, so avoid a generic job description, and spend some time creating one that’s appealing and accurate.

3. Post Your Job

Once you have an idea of who you’re after, it’s time to share your job description. To get as much interest as possible it’s good to cast a wide net across job boards, social media, and your professional network.

Job Boards

There are many dedicated job boards out there and don’t be afraid to use a few of them. Job sites like Indeed and CareerBuilder are often the first port of call for job seekers in the retail industry. Some job boards cater more to specific industries than others, so before posting your job description do a quick search to make sure there are similar job listings.

Social Media

Facebook and LinkedIn are also widely used to post jobs, but you’ll need to take some time to set up a business profile if you haven’t already. There are also Facebook groups for local job seekers, so that can be a good way to let people know about it directly. 

If you’re already posting on social media or have a newsletter, this can be another good place to let people know about your open job. You might even find a candidate among the customers who love you already!

Existing Employees

If you already have employees you like, it can’t hurt to ask if they know anyone else who’s looking for work. Not only would they be able to give an accurate description of what to expect working at your grocery store, but they may know people who work in similar jobs.


If you’re new to the hiring process, a recruiter can make it a little easier. Recruiters can save you money and post your job to places that you might not know about. 

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4. Conduct an Effective Interview

With your job description out in the world, candidates will be pouring in. Once you’ve identified the most qualified candidates, it’s time to set up an interview.

A pro tip: do not improvise the interview. This can be frustrating for job seekers and it might lead you to dismiss a great candidate just because you never asked the most relevant questions. Have a list of questions you want to ask each candidate. Keep questions open-ended and focus more on situations where they can share their experience. 

If you’re not sure what kind of questions to ask or prompts to give, here are a few ideas:

  • Tell me about your previous job experience.
  • Is there any particular reason you want to work at this store?
  • Can you tell me about how you dealt with a challenging situation or customer in the past?
  • What’s your general availability?

You can also use this time to tell them about a typical workday and what they might do in their role.

Remember, the goal of an interview isn’t just to go over their resume again but to get a sense of their personality and how they handle different situations. Give them a chance to ask questions too, as those questions can reveal a lot about their priorities and ways of working.

Related Read: Optimizing Grocery Store Operations: 5 Strategies for Success

Finally, don’t be afraid to invest in a great candidate even if they’re not the perfect fit on paper. Follow your gut. Even if someone doesn’t have every single skill you’re looking for, it can still be worth hiring them if they have a great attitude and enthusiasm for the job.

Offering candidates opportunities to learn new skills and grow is also a great way to retain talent in the long term.

5. Have an Onboarding Plan in Place

Once you’ve found your dream candidate(s), it’s time to get them up to speed. Things can get hectic in a small grocery store, but it’s important not to overwhelm your new hires. Have a clear plan for how you’ll train them and what tasks they’ll do.

Start them off with less intense work that lets them get used to how your store runs. Make sure you’re available for any questions so you can clarify any finer points quickly.

Your employees won’t only help you with tasks like stocking and customer checkout — they’ll act as the friendly face of your organic grocery store. So the more confident they are in their job, the happier your customers will be.

6. Support and Retain New Employees With the Right Tools

An organic and natural food store point of sale (POS) system is a great tool that can make the process of training and retaining employees easier. Leading grocery store POS systems can help organic grocery owners and employees in a few ways:

  • Streamlined training: A customizable user interface for customer checkout and item lookup helps cut down on confusion when onboarding new staff.

  • Employee performance tracking: Having access to employee performance metrics can help you understand how your new employee is doing so you can give actionable feedback and provide recognition for great work.

  • Simplified inventory management: Efficient inventory management makes it easier to create purchase orders and monitor inventory so employees can spend less time on data entry and more time on customers.

  • Customer loyalty and marketing: Encourage employees to help grow your business by engaging with customers and marketing strategy. 

Setting employee permissions on your point of sale system ensures they’ll only have access to the right functions, which you can change as they become more comfortable in their roles.  

Related Read: Top Grocery Store POS & Inventory Management Software

Find People As Unique as Your Business

Organic grocers offer communities healthy food and seasonal favorites. A small organic grocery store's sense of local expertise, unique products, and exceptional customer service help it stand out.

So make sure you hire people that can deliver the great experiences your customers expect. 

Markt POS helps local markets and grocery stores thrive with efficient and reliable processes that help employees spend less time training and more time delighting your customers.

To see our free guide on opening an organic food store, click the link below. And if you’d like to see how Markt POS can simplify your day to day, schedule a demo today.

How to Open an Organic Food Store Checklist

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