How Target hit the bull’s-eye in employee engagement

After layoffs and a customer data breach, the retailer worked hard to rebuild trust within and without. That included a successful focus on employee communication.

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Editor’s note: This story is taken from Ragan Communications’ distance-learning portal Ragan Training. The site contains hundreds of hours of case studies, video presentations and interactive courses.

In 2011, things were going great for Minneapolis-based Target Corp.

The retail giant was opening 200 stores in Canada, and pesky Amazon’s impact was little more than “a rounding error,” says Sean Madigan, senior director of communications.

Within a few years, a bracing front of cold reality blew down from the north. Hackers breeched Target customer data days before Christmas 2013, and the expansion failed, costing the company thousands of jobs.

On top of that, Amazon introduced an app that enabled consumers to scan merchandise on store shelves and compare the prices to those sold elsewhere—alarming retailers everywhere.

The data breach “was a really, really tough situation,” Madigan says. “Our sales fell right off a cliff. Our customers were really mad. We spent months and months and months trying to win back their trust.”

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