While the easing of lockdown restrictions across England on Monday 12 April received nationwide fanfare, cash-strapped industry leaders in the retail and hospitality sectors could be facing even greater losses, if they fail to adopt new technologies.
This warning comes from Daniel Holmberg, country manager from Quinyx UK, as figures released from the first lockdown milestone – the re-opening of outdoor hospitality and non-essential retail from Monday 12 April – revealed a picture of wildly unpredictable demand.
Holmberg explains: “The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster for many retail and hospitality companies, so there’s an understandable excitement to open their doors and start trading again.
“However, the business landscape they’re now operating in is like nothing they’ve experienced before and there’s a high risk of mismanaging staff, and maybe even losing them, if too much trust is placed on slow and labour-intensive manual workforce scheduling processes.”
The Office for National Statistics reported that on Saturday 17 April 2021, estimates for UK seated diner reservations were at just 60% of the level seen on the equivalent Saturday of 2019, despite it being the first weekend since November 2020 that pubs and restaurants could open for outdoor service.
Holmberg adds: “What’s worrying for bosses responsible for workforce planning is that later that week, on what was expected to be one of the busiest days for hospitality, diner numbers dropped by 19 percentage points on Saturday 17 April compared with the Monday. This fluctuation in footfall in the first week alone, without even considering other factors such as unpredictable weather, shows what a logistical challenge managers face in the hospitality sector.”
Based on ONS date for the retail sector, the number of shoppers increased by almost a third (31%) from Monday 12 April compared to the week before. Shopping centres saw the biggest boost to footfall, followed by high streets.
“Peaks and troughs in customer demand, based on variables out of everyone’s control, mean there’s no trend to draw from when it comes to planning necessary staff cover,” says Holmberg. “There’s the potential for staff to be inadvertently pulled in all directions, with little communication from their line managers and short notice of working hours. In fact, a recent study by Living Wage cited that among the 59% of workers whose job involves variable hours or shift work, 62% reported having less than a week’s notice of their work schedules. At the extreme, 12% of this group – amounting to 7% all working adults – had less than 24 hours’ notice.”
Daniel hopes those managing deskless workers in these sectors through manual methods such as excel spreadsheets and handwritten rotas, will set aside nervousness around investing in technology during times of hardship, and consider the return workforce management tools can deliver, thanks to more efficient and intuitive scheduling, and better communications with staff.
Quinyx has launched a special report to help allay some of the fears managers have when it comes to introducing a tech solution. Titled ‘Burden or Benefit? How technology is helping inspire positive change’ the report presents data on why it pays to invest in an AI-driven solution.
“Our report highlights how staff turnover can be costly, to the tune of £15,334 per replaced employee. It also covers how inefficient scheduling could mean a business loses 40% of its annual income – due to over and understaffing and lost revenue, plus a handy checklist for how to approach finding the right tech partner,” Holmberg concludes.