How to Manage Absenteeism at Retail Stores During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the lives of store associates and their ability to work regular schedules. With schools closed and many summer camps cancelled, store associates with children may not be able to handle paying for more child care. Many have to care for sick relatives as well, and have to shift availability or call out to stay home with them. And many have become sick themselves, and must take several weeks off to recover.
This isn’t affecting a small portion of retail employees. Some retailers are seeing dramatic shifts in their workforce because of this dynamic. At Walmart, almost 20% of their U.S. employees have taken coronavirus-related leave in recent months, with hundreds of thousands of temporary workers hired to fill that gap. As the pandemic stretches into the summer and fall months, this dynamic will still persist as stores continue to reopen and ramp up business.
Without a way to account for associates’ rapidly changing availability, it’s easy for your labor operations to spiral out of control. Shifts go understaffed, shelves aren’t properly stocked, and critical tasks aren’t completed on time. Simplifying how employees swap shifts, pick up open shifts, or call in sick is an essential part of any strategy aimed at combatting the disruption that COVID-19 is imposing on your retail workforce.
An employee self-service (ESS) application, that associates can use on their mobile devices, is a great tool you can use to put this strategy into action. By giving store associates a single interface easily accessible at their fingertips, ESS makes it easier for employees to view their schedules, ask for time off, or request to pick up or swap shifts. Instead of desperately trying to get a hold of other associates to get shifts covered, they can just put their request into the system, and all available associates are able to immediately view and respond to it. The automated system does the heavy-lifting, looking at associate skills, overtime implications, labor laws, minor rules, and a multitude of other factors to ensure that shift swaps occur in compliance with business rules and other requirements.
If children don’t have access to summer programs or cannot attend school in person in the fall, thousands upon thousands of associates are going to have to update their availability to compensate for renewed child care responsibilities. ESS applications can be incredibly helpful here, ensuring that store associates’ availabilities are always up-to-date, avoiding the frustration that comes with having to constantly rewrite schedules and make schedule edits to ensure adequate coverage. Instead of calling or emailing a manager and hoping that availability is accurately updated in the system, store associates can simply put their availability into the ESS application, and store managers can approve it from there, quickly filling open shifts with suitable substitutes where needed.
With all the work that managers have to accomplish, such as implementing and communicating new safety initiatives, managers don’t necessarily have time to take dozens of schedule change requests, review them, approve or deny them, and update labor schedules accordingly. ESS dramatically simplifies this process for managers; all communication related to schedule changes comes through one application, and managers can approve or deny requests at the touch of a button.
COVID-19 will continue to impact the retail workforce for months to come. With an employee self-service solution, you can simplify the process of making adjustments to employee availability and labor schedules, reducing the impact of absenteeism and ensuring that associates can strike a work-life balance that works for them.
For more insight into how employee self-service applications can help you optimize labor operations, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.