Rethinking Traditional Workforce Management Strategies
To understand what the future of retail could look like, we sat down with Chris Love, Managing Partner – Workforce Transformation at REPL, Oli Johnson, Co-Founder of Catapult and our very own Jon Seddon, Senior Solutions Consultant for EMEA at Reflexis. It is becoming increasingly clear that certain aspects of the retail world have changed forever. These retail experts shared what they think the retail workforce is going to look like after the huge changes that Covid-19 is leaving in its wake.
The lockdown has identified and reignited the urgency for certain store trends and our experts acknowledge that some of these may have a positive impact on the retail workforce in the years to come, but only if retailers act now. In particular, our panellists recognised that the retailer/employee relationship has evolved dramatically. Now is the time for leaders to improve their team dynamics in order to build a brand that will succeed in the “new normal”.
Below we’ve highlighted some of the key themes that were chosen as top priorities for retailers.
Enabling flexible working without impacting customer service
A flexible workforce will be required going forwards. Some volatility in demand will continue, and employees will still be affected by illness within their families. Effective and flexible employee scheduling will need to be a major part of any reopening. This could be extended to cross-store working and short term or temporary workers. The gig economy is so far underused by retailers and the need for additional flexibility could be the perfect opportunity to step into this world.
Dealing with the operational challenges of ‘socially distanced’ stores whilst tightly controlling costs
Health and safety compliance will form the basis of any store reopening or increasing of capacity. This will require a careful balance between staffing numbers, adequate floor space, increased cleaning schedules and controlled customer numbers. The health of employees should lead the way in any decision making. Appointment booking solutions could be the key to ensuring sensible shopper numbers and are a great addition to workforce management systems.
The future of the employer-employee relationship
Retail managers have consistently shown leadership in their communication efforts towards shop-floor staff over the last few weeks, mostly through increased communication via video, email and messaging. This has fostered a team atmosphere and improved relationships. Going forward, the concepts of rewards (via gamification), clear and regular information, and encouragement of continued two-way communication could result in a sea-change in shop floor and management relationships.
The role technology will play in disrupting the retail workforce
Now is the time to think about how technology could help to maintain these positive changes. Whether still in-store, working from home or furloughed, all employees are using technology in different ways for work. To lose this momentum could result in losing one of the only benefits to come from recent events – a renewed interest and acceptance of technology as part of working life.
Above all, retailers need to start rethinking and acting on their workforce management strategies in order to ensure their survival in what is sure to be an exciting, yet daunting road to recovery. If you’d like to watch the full webinar you can view it here.