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Strike a better balance between operational efficiency and employee retention 

Strike a better balance between operational efficiency and employee retention 

Industry ExpertRetailTop StoriesWorkforce Management

Retail is consistently changing and new technologies are beginning to dominate this space. Mark Williams, Managing Director at WorkJam, speaks to us about retail technologies and how enterprises can utilise them for the employee experience. 

Technology can be strategically deployed in retail to optimise communication, training, scheduling and productivity – all of which have a direct impact on improving employee retention, employee well-being and employee empowerment. Consumers expect more from retailers than ever before, but now so does the workforce. It’s time for retail businesses to maximise technology so that they can evolve into a better future. 

Over the last two decades, brick and mortar retail stores have had to adapt to the new competition of online retailers. The retail industry has not only overcome this obstacle but has flourished. One major contributing factor to this success is the technology behind these retail companies. 

Technology can improve seamless operation throughout the supply chain and can help businesses strike a better balance between operational efficiency and employee retention. These retail technologies boost employee productivity and customer satisfaction. As we know, these go hand-in-hand with happy employees and happy customers. A win/win for all! 

Employee retention  

It’s no secret that there is a fight for talent in many sectors at the moment due to the effects of the pandemic. Retailers in particular need to do as much as they can to attract, retain and leverage talent. With discussion and trials of a four-day work week becoming more and more frequent and common, as well as the switch to remote work for many, work flexibility has become a desirable element for job seekers. Unfortunately, ‘deskless’ workers who work in retail are not afforded the same benefits.  

This is where the need to leverage technology comes in. Retail companies can now use specifically designed apps for frontline workers to not only hire new employees but train them, manage shifts and improve communication. People want flexible schedules. In retail, this can be difficult. However, through the use of a digital frontline workplace, shifts can be organised, changed and switched right from their personal devices, such as their smartphones or tablets.  

These tools also enable employees to switch shifts with employees from stores in neighbouring locations, opening up opportunities for people to not only change their schedule when they need to due to personal commitments but allow others to pick up shifts to earn extra cash. Employers, in turn, know that each employee has already been vetted and trained. 

Onboarding and training can also be made simple for both employer and employee with the help of digital tools. Onboarding can be quite time consuming and the paperwork can be endless. Going digital means less paperwork, less time spent and better access to important documents when needed.  

Training through technology also becomes less of a chore and a real opportunity to make much needed changes in retail. One common theme in retail is more experienced employees or those who have been with the company for longer, helping to train new team members. Although this can make sense on occasion, this can lead to errors or miscommunication being passed down from employee to employee. Through the use of technology, management can not only track training progress but pick up on when employees may need further training in certain areas.  

Employee well-being  

One of the most important elements in any workplace should be employee well-being. When well-being is a priority, productivity and retention improves naturally. Technology implemented in the workplace can aid in this too. With shifts managed via digital tools, employees can improve their work-life balance and be ready to take on work well-rested and more fulfilled.  

Improved training with the help of digital tools also gives employees a brighter future. Gaining and honing their skills through training gives employees the confidence to know that if they want to move up in the company, they have the skills they need to succeed and accomplish their goals. Again, this is a win/win for both employees and their employer. 

Employee empowerment 

One essential part of customer service is ensuring employees feel empowered to do the best job that they can and taking pride in their work. Communication, feedback and training are some of the best ways to empower employees and this can all be done digitally.  

Having a clear line of communication from the front of staff to the managerial team is necessary for improved customer service. If someone on the floor needs to communicate with the backroom, employees can use digital tools to do this all while still speaking to customers and ensuring their needs are met.  

Additionally, being able to communicate about other things such as shift issues, personal problems or peer issues is a good way to empower your employees by encouraging them to speak up if something needs to change.  

The future of retail 

The future of retail is never clear. Stores on the high street have been riding a roller coaster since the beginning of online shopping and have hit bumps with the pandemic stopping them in their tracks. They are now bouncing back with the help of technology, which has a clear impact on their happiness due to increased efficiencies on every level. With digital tools being able to shape how employees are trained, can manage their schedules and with improved communication, this provides a clear path to boosting retention, well-being and empowerment amongst employees.  

Digital Transformation isn’t specific to any one industry. It applies to all industries across all verticals. In conclusion, technology rapidly improves operations and efficiencies. The future of retail is about integrating technology into the workflow. In turn, staying ahead of the competition by developing happy employees and, of course, customers. 

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