The rapid change in consumer demographics, preferences, and shopping behavior is hardly a secret in the retail and consumer goods industry. As of 2015, Millennials outnumber Gen X’ers in the workplace by nearly 20%. This demographic shift poses new challenges for employers as they strive to train and retain their retail workforce.
Retailers often fail to realize that this change in demographics leads to changes in attitude, behavior, and preferences that impact how their workforce operates. Retailers must respond by changing their hiring, engagement, and training strategies to embrace this new reality. Tailoring the fundamental workforce management processes to accommodate the workforce of the future improves both employee retention and customer engagement.
The Changing Workforce Demographic
The workforce of the future is more adaptable, creative, and tech savvy. These characteristics make Millennials perfect for testing out new emerging technologies, which can drastically improve your stores’ customer experience. While the Millennial workforce brings a lot of skills to the workplace, they also require retailers to adapt their employee training methodologies to accommodate new attitudes and behaviors.
Millennials also have different expectations of their employers than previous generations. The new generation is driven by career growth opportunities, work-life balance, and purpose.
Mobile Workforce Management
Training on the Go
Training programs for the workforce of the future must adapt not only to the new characteristics of employees, but also to the changing nature of customer demands. Mailing bulky printed manuals and training guides to stores is no longer effective and is a thing of the past. The future workforce demands a sophisticated and personalized multimedia-training platform. While training videos bridge this gap partially, game-based learning tools have proven to be the most effective in employee engagement and training. Often these come with a point based reward system and multiple tiers representing different employee proficiency levels.
Truly advanced retailers will focus on real-time training. As the list of possible emergencies grows in retail, associates do not have the time, and employers do not have the budget, to complete training for every possible scenario. Instead, retailers will have to depend on real-time execution engines that can provide associates with actionable, step-by-step directions to deal with both day-to-day tasks, as well as emergencies. Millennials, already used to learning things on the go using social tools, are quick to adapt to this sort of training, allowing them to focus most of their time on providing customer service and selling to customers.
Employee Work-Life Balance
Millennials also put a heavy emphasis on achieving a good work-life balance. This often means that they want greater control over their schedule, which retailers can provide by offering multiple employee self-service options. The workforce of the future demands that payroll and schedule shift information is available to them whenever and wherever they need it. Millennials want to swap shifts, request time off, and review their benefits balances on the platform they are most comfortable with – their mobile devices. Giving associates this capability goes a long way in showing that employers understand their values and want to engage them.
Associate Productivity and Customer Service
An associate with relevant information at their fingertips is more effective than the one who relies on back office reports. This helps maintain real-time, two-way communication between the associate and key customer service systems, helping them assist customers proactively and react faster to trends. Below are some of the most commonly used associate mobility solutions:
- Mobile POS allows associates to complete sales on-the floor from the palm of their hand
- Mobile Assisted selling allows associates to check inventory and help customers compare product features
- Mobile inventory gives associates the power to ensure shelves are never out of stock
While a fully functional mobile customer point of service is desirable; standalone mobile solutions allow associates to search for items, look up current prices or check inventory. All of this enhances the associate and customer experience by making the most commonly used features available on a tablet.
The changing role of technology will have a major impact on the workplace of the future, and the changing demographic of that workforce will continue to be the front-runner in this change. Employers who embrace the tech-savvy changes to their workforce and workplace will be poised for a successful transition into the digital workplace of the future.
Reflexis enables retailers to execute strategy flawlessly and uncover profit. The Reflexis platform includes real-time store execution, task management, compliance, time and attendance, and labor scheduling. Learn more at http://www.reflexisinc.com/
From understanding customers to providing a cohesive experience across channels, retail leaders choose Cognizant to help them work better and work differently. Cognizant’s Retail practice helps retailers turn today’s pain points into new business opportunities. Learn more at https://www.cognizant.com/retail