The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

The Empowered Workforce: ‘Survey Says…’

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Last week we released a brand new report on workforce management and titled it, “Has the era of the empowered workforce finally arrived?” That’s kind of a big leap, since just a few short years ago we titled this annual research, “What will it take to build a better workforce?”.

Now, today, in the wake of a pandemic, supply chain shortages, rising inflation and a help-wanted sign hanging in the front window of nearly every retail storefront, the question has shifted to something far more meaningful: can retailers now shift quickly enough to adapt their workforce management behaviors to meet the needs of a world that has completely changed all around them?

We conducted the study to find out. The following are some of the highlights of what retailers shared:

  • Retailers’ top Business Challenges set up a vicious cycle: the need to keep prices down for shoppers means smaller margins, and smaller margins means less resources to find, train, and keep good employees. They know they are in a tough spot, and we begin this analysis on page 7.
  • Thankfully, once we begin to examine Opportunities available (page 11), Retail Winners (those whose sales are outperforming the norm) are tackling these challenges more proactively. Nearly 80% of Retail Winners “strongly agree” that their customer-facing employees have a significant impact on their annual sales, and as a result are steadily moving away from the churn-and-burn thinking that clearly no longer works for our industry. These Retail Winners are increasing workers’ incentive programs, pay scale, and are offering more flexible scheduling – all at wildly disproportionate rates to that of average and underperformers.
  • When we look inside the ways that retailers think they can overcome the Organizational Inhibitors that exist within their companies (page 14), employee enablement is a top priority for both the largest and the best performing retailers in our study. Three-fourths of Winners have committed to at least 20 hours/year to training new employees, compared to less than one-half of average and under-performers – and the less than one-third of them that follow through.
  • Retailers tell us they should have invested more into finding, training, and keeping the best staff possible during the economically prosperous times since 2008, but in the Technology Enablers section of the report (page 18), they now know that their customers demand more informed staff than they currently provide. The good news? The overwhelming majority of retailers who responded to our survey indicate that they are moving quickly to address shortcomings they have in empowering their store employees with (usually mobile) communications capabilities.

Based on our data, we also offer several in-depth and pragmatic suggestions on how retailers should proceed. These recommendations can be found in the Bootstrap Recommendations portion of the report. It’s available for free to everyone, and if you haven’t yet, you can get your copy to read right here.