Retail workers face all kinds of challenges. Whether dealing with the public (which can be incredibly taxing) to managing the store opening, closing, and cleaning lists, to handling the changing “shopping” landscape, a lot is going on.
On top of that, retail workers traditionally are not compensated well, and retailers struggle to provide a clear path for career growth opportunities for staff.
Much of this was at play before and while the “Great Resignation” took place during 2021 and into 2022, and retailers continue to struggle with retaining and bringing on employees.
Some of the top noted reasons that retail employees have left their jobs are:
The financial losses related to absenteeism, turnover, unfilled roles, and sick employees alone should be cause enough for concern. But then to realize the financial losses related to unhappy customers because there are no employees to help and the burden becomes even more sizable.
The “great resignation” and a better understanding of what retail employees need and want present an opportunity for retailers to rethink and revitalize how they treat and employ retail workers.
The old strategies no longer work and to remain successful, new strategies are needed.
Here are some tips!
We have seen the benefits that technology has brought to consumers. Hybrid shopping experiences (those that take place online and in-store, or some similar variation) are increasingly popular.
The way consumers shop has completely changed thanks to innovative technologies that make it easier, safer, and quite literally a part of all we do (thanks to social shopping).
Retail employees are next in line for reaping the benefits of modern technologies and devices.
According to HRDIrect, building a better employee experience can be done by increasing communication from the corporate level to the store level.
Digital workplace technologies, like real-time software tools or apps, provide a way for employees to have easier access to more information regarding career growth opportunities across the company.
In addition, these technologies help increase communication regarding training and other similar opportunities that help employees feel included and valued.
“Coresight research revealed that 82% of respondents whose organizations have adopted digital workplace applications and increased employee engagement indicated improvement in sales conversion since the introduction of the new technology, likely as a result of better communications, training, and store execution.” HRDirect
Taking the burden of repetitive tasks off the checklist is another great way to utilize your existing staff in ways that are more in line with their unique skills and talents, as well as allowing them to focus on work that requires more human dexterity and knowledge.
This alone can help elevate the role of retail employees, giving them a greater sense of importance.
Floor cleaning for example can be repetitive and time-consuming. While retailers must keep up with cleaning, autonomous solutions are available.
Cobi 18, an autonomous floor scrubber, is designed to work in real-life complex environments like retail stores. While the cobot cleans the floors, staff can focus on other important work.
The additional benefits of both digital workplace technologies and autonomous solutions are they are IoT-equipped—meaning the data can be tracked and saved through cloud-like technology.
In addition to improving the roles of customer-facing employees, these solutions can also lead to operational cost savings benefits:
“79% also enjoyed reduced operational costs, using digital workplace technology to eliminate the need for costly store visits and audits by management. In addition, by giving staff digital checklists and brand guideline instructions via mobile apps, they saw improved merchandising/brand compliance across stores and restaurants, with the positive effect of better customer experience and ultimately, more sales.”
One of the biggest takeaways from the pandemic is that the health and safety of retail workers is an issue and an area of concern for workers.
Finding ways to keep staff safe and feeling supported can go a long way in reassuring them they are valued and that their health is important.
Retailers can support the well-being of their staff by focusing on overall health. Some ways to do this are:
Showing appreciation for your employees can happen in a variety of ways. Since wage compensation continues to be a sore spot, reviewing your compensation plan and making sure you are in line with other retailers is an effective way to start. Your team will appreciate knowing you are providing a competitive wage.
Other ways to show appreciation are providing free meals, goal-related incentives or bonuses, or additional time off.
Coming up with creative ways to make the workplace fun and focused on appreciation can go a long way toward the health of your staff.
This may seem easier said than done but according to Harvard Business Review:
"Research has found that high work demands — for instance, long hours or pressure to work very hard or fast — can take a substantial toll on employee health and well-being. In fact, numerous studies find that high demands coupled with low control create health risks, including higher rates of symptoms of depression, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.”
Since retail work can be all the above at times, it is important to make sure you have enough staff on hand to help respond to increases in customer traffic, balance the workload, and help keep a generally positive vibe in the store.
Customer traffic can be unpredictable at times but there are scheduling tools that track traffic trends and these can be used to build out a balanced schedule.
Retail workers do important work, much of which is caring for and helping customers. Making sure they are compensated fairly, treated with respect, and supported is essential for both healthy staff and a successful retail business.
ICE Cobotics is a leading technology and floor cleaning equipment company specializing in automation and the all-inclusive subscription. If you have questions or are ready to start your journey with autonomous solutions, reach out to our automation experts.