Three Strategies to Empower Engaged Store Associates
Employee turnover continues to be a massive problem for retailers. In 2018, the average part-time turnover rate was 81%, up from 76% in 2017. This high turnover rate comes with an enormous price tag: it costs a great deal to find, hire, and train each new employee. With labor markets tightening and the competition for experienced associates more fierce than ever, ensuring high employee retention is critical for any retail organization.
One factor that often contributes to retention is how engaged your store associates are. When store associates are more engaged, they’re less frustrated, more helpful, and they sell much more. Engaged store associates are able to easily execute daily tasks, provide customers with helpful, actionable information, and work productively through their shifts.
Here are three strategies you can utilize to keep employee engagement high:
1. Provide More Opportunity for Training
A store associate’s job is becoming more complex with every passing day. And yet almost a third of retail employees don’t receive any sort of formal training. Of those who do, only 35% of them found their training to be “very effective.” This isn’t because retailers don’t want to train employees, but because there simply aren’t the resources available to build and execute extensive training programs.
On-the-job training is an effective, low-cost way to support store associates. However, in order to provide this support, store managers need to spend more time on the sales floor and less time in the back office. This can be accomplished by streamlining labor scheduling and simplifying corporate-to-store communication, dramatically reducing the amount of time store managers spend responding to emails and creating weekly schedules. This provides them with more time to work with store associates, training them on the skills they need to provide excellent customer service.
2. Optimize Labor Scheduling Processes
It’s difficult for store associates to feel engaged when they’re frustrated with their work conditions. In a recent survey conducted by Zebra, 55% of store associates agreed that their company is understaffed, with 49% expressing that they’re overworked. 42% said that they didn’t have much time to help customers because they felt pressure to complete other tasks.
Much of this comes down to inefficient scheduling processes. When store managers are forced to create schedules manually, and when labor schedules don’t account for all of the work that needs to be done in the store, mistakes and misalignments inevitably place the burden on store associates.
With a platform of workforce management and real-time store operations solutions, not only can retailers generate optimized labor schedules more quickly and efficiently, but they can also more accurately account for things like employee skillsets, store workload, and customer traffic. When store associates are staffed according to their strengths and weaknesses, as well as variables that impact the store workload, they don’t feel as overworked and have more time to engage with customers on the sales floor.
3. Streamline Complex Initiatives in Stores
Buy-online, pick-up in store (BOPIS) is nothing new, but retailers are still searching for the most efficient way to pull it off. Sometimes there are issues with the online component of BOPIS; other times, there’s limited visibility into in-store availability. And the actual pickup process can be cumbersome, with customers waiting in long lines to pick up their purchase.
This has an impact on store associates, who may be dealing with customers frustrated by the online ordering process, or might have trouble locating the order and getting it to the customer in a timely manner.
Creating efficient lines of communication and effective processes is essential to keeping customers happy when they come into stores and take advantage of complex initiatives like BOPIS. With real-time task management solutions that offer peer-to-peer communication systems, store associates can receive alerts when they have to retrieve BOPIS orders, and store managers can use peer-to-peer communication to quickly reroute tasks if necessary. The ability to react in real time ensures that complex processes are executed precisely and that customers are impressed by high-quality service.
For more tips on how to improve employee engagement and optimize store operations, contact me—Kevin Saum, VP of Americas Sales—or download our white paper, “5 Tips for Solving Retail’s Real Labor Challenge.”