This Technology Helps Retailers Thrive in the Shift-Work Economy

Retailers are frequently turning to technology and automation to improve the customer experience, but human interaction remains an important part of the customer’s brick-and-mortar shopping experience. A recent report by digital workplace platform Workjam suggests that retailers should invest in employee engagement by supporting them with technology.

“Retailers are seeing the need to emphasize operation excellence in their digital strategy,” said Will Eadie, global vice president of sales and alliances at Workjam. “That’s where it pays to focus more on simplified workforce communication and task management.”

Research from the National Retail Federation found that workforce turnover exceeded 60% in retail, compared with an average of 15% across U.S. industries. High turnover can result in significant costs in recruiting, hiring and training, expenses that many merchants can’t afford in this competitive climate.

The Future of Retail report by Workjam noted that a common concern for store employees is the management of work shifts. Inefficiency in shift scheduling, inflexible hours and impediments to trading shifts can encourage retail workers to leave a position that they otherwise enjoy and perform well at. This also harms the retailer by increasing the likelihood of unexpected absences.

Shift management will be further complicated by the influx of predictive scheduling laws being introduced in many cities, including New York and San Francisco. Eadie said these laws require employers to communicate schedules 14 days in advance and contain regulations on how changes can be made. Without an efficient system in place, retailers could face additional challenges in keeping employees engaged.

To address this, Eadie recommended digital solutions that promote employee control and allow associates to trade shifts themselves, as long as they are legally compliant. It is also important that tools allow for easy scalability, so that retailers can remain consistent as they expand into new markets and grow staffs.

“It’s not just the technology that’s important,” added Eadie. “It’s the change in the employers’ mindset regarding what it means to trust and empower employees. They will create a high level of employee engagement, loyalty and pride, which has a direct impact on how employees service customers. They are going to push more sales, be more helpful and be better in-store associates.”

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