Effectively engaging employees in today’s challenging economic climate is increasingly important for retailers to maintain exemplary customer service levels and maximise sales, says Nigel Garrett, business development director at the workforce management solutions provider Workplace
As the ‘face’ of a business, the significance of shop floor employees is undeniable – they hold the relationship with the customer. Making employees feel valued and striving to build strong relationships with them can help retailers to reduce staff turnover and create loyalty amongst employees, boosting performance and maintaining positive attitudes; crucial to hitting sales targets.
The importance of effective employee engagement is highlighted by Workplace, which commissioned research by Martec with the results showing that, when focusing on employee turnover, 56% of UK retailers specified it as a key performance indicator. These results emphasise the challenge faced by retailers and the importance of retaining their best talent, and through offering respect, autonomy and flexibility, employers can ensure their employees remain engaged.
Reward good service, as well as sales
Sales targets are an essential part of any retail business, but rewarding employees for other actions such as attendance or customer service successes, can be just as beneficial.
Emphasis on great service will help to lift management’s quantitative expectations, such as units sold, and will allow employees to see value in the way they perform, not simply the end result.
Anywhere, anytime access to the cloud
One of the many benefits of a cloud-based workforce management application is that it enables employees to access their schedules from anywhere, anytime, on any internet-enabled device.
This accessibility, made possible by the cloud, offers employees the flexibility to view shifts, bid for additional work, swap with colleagues, and take more ownership of their working hours simply by accessing an intuitive online application.
Although management retain control through setting the schedule frameworks, this allows employees flexibility, so they can add and change availability themselves in a structured way.
Offer choice and control
It’s vital for retail managers to empower their employees by making them part of day-to-day decision making processes and giving them a level of choice and control over their own work schedules, although within set parameters.
By providing a structured process for the management of employee scheduling, for example input into attendance and holidays, retail employees are able to manage their working times and take their own lives and commitments into account. The overall schedules are controlled by a manager to ensure they are suitable for purpose, while also providing employees with a level of self-discipline which boosts their engagement.
The promotion of employee input into managing schedules can lead to a reduction in turnover due to increased engagement and, therefore, motivation and satisfaction levels.
Let your employees make decisions
Training employees and giving them the ability to effectively resolve disputes and the authority to make certain decisions without approval from a manager, enables retailers to empower employees and vastly improve the efficiency of how issues on the shop floor are dealt with.
Whether it is being able to issue a refund or deal with a complaint, even simple steps can motivate employees, instilling a sense of pride and responsibility and help them to make the best customer service decisions quickly and professionally.
Introduce some fun
‘Gamification’ has the potential to increase employee engagement and this doesn’t have to result in financial or other material rewards, it can purely be adding an element of competition to processes or targets. The psychological benefits of feeling like part of a team, and of healthy competition, can be reward enough if implemented well.
Through building a unified team with healthy competitive elements, employees can enjoy greater fulfilment from their roles, helping to ensure they have the right attitude and are focused on their time and productivity.
This article has stressed that retail managers need to have the right people in the right place at the right time, but in order for those people to perform to the best of their ability and deliver exemplary customer service, they must have the right attitude.
If retailers are able to employ some of these tips and, in doing so, successfully engage their employees, they can expect to see increased job satisfaction and motivation, as well as additional outputs in terms of improved productivity, reduced company turnover as well as sickness absence. For both employees and employers, a high level of workforce engagement is undoubtedly a win-win scenario.
Nigel Garrett is business development director at Workplace, which will be hosting the Leadership in Retail WFM Customer Experience Global Summit 2013 in Chicago on 13 June 2013.
Workplace contact details:
Tel: 01908 2420420
A Retail Times’ sponsored article.