WorkJam on Retail Success and Employee Engagement

Power Retail By Power Retail | 30 Jul 2019

So much of company performance centres around the consumer and their interaction with the brand across multiple channels. But what about employees?

Last week WorkJam discussed the changing purchase journey and how retailers need to adapt. This week, WorkJam looks at how retailers can leverage employee engagement as part of the big picture strategy for success:

Being an engaged employee goes further than simply being content at work. Instead, a highly engaged employee is enthusiastic about – and dedicated to – their job. They’re passionate about what they do, care deeply about the performance of the company.

It’s easy picture why having an engaged workforce would benefit your business, but let’s examine the exact benefits, particularly in light of the analysis of the changing consumer marketplace.

This is the big one, the one that can make or break your business…and it’s more important than ever before. Consumers have the online world at their fingertips and they will no longer put up with less-than-stellar service. Having less-than-engaged front-line employees makes it an uphill battle to provide great service. Even if the employees are polite and knowledgeable, they simply don’t have the internal motivation to create a great customer experience, often doing the bare minimum of what’s required to keep their job.

Conversely, an engaged employee will engender goodwill and a sense of community with customers. These are the employees who are friendly and knowledgeable, who genuinely care about the customers, and who take pride in their store and its offerings. These employees create a positive customer experience that leave consumers with a sense of well-being and belonging.

We’ve seen how costs are increasing, whether it’s the cost of goods, the cost of the store property, or the costs of staffing due to increased base wages. To offset those costs and continue to be profitable, there are only so many avenues available, some of which can actually be detrimental in the long run.

Too many retailers have made the mistake of treating employees as an easily replaceable commodity, reducing staffing costs by eliminating their higher-paid, full-time retail employees and replacing them with entry-level part-timers.

Why is this a mistake? It’s because all too often, the staffers that were let go were the ones with the knowledge, experience, and engagement that had been elevating the customer experience and the overall engagement and morale of the workforce. This may lead to savings in the short term, but tends to backfire spectacularly, as the poorly directed cost cutting results in a decrease in service and employee engagement, which results in lost customers and higher turnover…which results in an even greater need to cut costs.

It’s a race to the bottom that nobody wins.

Many of the major pain points today’s retailers face can be greatly alleviated by increasing employee engagement. And as it turns out, there are exciting new tools that make this easier than ever.

Digital workplace platforms such as WorkJam make it easier for retailers to improve efficiency and productivity while also increasing employee engagement (which in turn, also increases efficiency and productivity).

Here’s one example:

Shift scheduling and underemployment are major pain points for retailers and staffers alike. Employees struggle to get enough hours and often face the impossible task of balancing multiple discrete part-time jobs. This juggling act leaves managers scrambling to handle shift change requests or to find new staff if underemployed employees leave for greener pastures.

Now, picture an online shift marketplace, where employees can view, trade, and pick up shifts across multiple retail locations.

A location that needs extra hands due to an absence or an anticipated increase in traffic can easily post available shifts on the WorkJam platform. Employees from other locations who were sitting at home and would love to pick up extra shifts, quickly answer the call. And presto, the benefits are multifold:

  1. Store locations have an easier way to handle absenteeism or increases in traffic (such as during holiday times).
  2. Employees who are underemployed stand a better chance of being able to work as many hours as they wish.
  3. Shift trades are easy and convenient, making it a much simpler task to balance a job and the demands that family or schooling can bring.
  4. Employees are much more likely to stay with the company if they’re getting as many hours as they want and are empowered with the ability to adjust their shifts when needed.
  5. Managers spend virtually no time handling shift changes and can focus instead on improving store performance and coaching staff.
  6. Customers receive a better experience. Not only do they not face a shorthanded store, but the people filling in are seasoned staffers who don’t need to be brought up to speed – they can immediately start providing seamless service.

Remember: Retailers today are facing increased costs and increased competition, while customers are looking for an exemplary experience and a sense of community. By implementing a digital workplace platform, retailers can greatly reduce absenteeism and turnover costs, improve employee engagement and morale, help managers focus on the activities that will actually move the needle, and create a seamlessly positive, brand-consistent experience for customers.

Here’s the power of the digital workplace in action: Target Australia implemented WorkJam, which among other functions, provided detailed product knowledge information and training to employees. In the 12-month period after implementation, they saw a 60 percent reduction in customer complaints around product knowledge.

Andrew Myers, who was Chief Operations Officer of Target Australia at the time, adds, “The employees were more confident in not just selling a pair of denim jeans, but they knew how the jeans were made and the conditions in the factory and whether the materials were ethically sourced. They knew the various design elements that went into the jeans. They knew how many we bought and how many they needed to sell. And I generally think that that’s what helped us get sales growth.”

The future of retail remains bright, particularly for those retailers who place a priority on employee engagement and the customer experience. As consumers face an increased number of options, they’ll reward those companies whose employees are informed, engaged, and helpful – the ones who create an immersive customer experience that engenders loyalty and community.