There has been no shortage of leading customer retail and restaurant chains that have been engulfed by public scrutiny over their hourly labor practices – from scheduling to wages – in the last two years. Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and McDonald’s are just a few.
In the face of negative media and regulatory attention, employers need to rely more on their hourly workforce to help transform their brand reputation. By recognizing front line workers’ achievements, promoting stronger internal communication and simplifying cumbersome employee processes, organizations can demonstrate their efforts to solve this modern labor crisis. More importantly, when employees have opportunities to grow, engage with their employers and take control over their schedules, they’re likely to be better, more enthusiastic brand representatives, delivering superior customer service and advocating for your brand within their own personal networks.
Championing a culture of corporate citizenship isn’t just for show. It’s about creating a work environment that attracts and retains talented people who, in turn, influence public perception of your business. Here are a few tips for elevating your hourly workforce into powerful brand ambassadors:
- Focus on Long-Term Development: Service industry employers should strive to make their organizations career launch pads, not pit stops for hourly workers. Many businesses today limit frontline training to an employee’s initial onboarding, and fail to provide continuous access to education and inform staff about potential career progressions within the company. Organizations that prioritize ongoing professional development and skill-building, however, have the best chance of cultivating a workforce that’s loyal and capable of delivering excellent customer service. By monitoring hourly employees’ training and proven credentials, store managers can more easily identify each staff member’s strengths and provide tailored opportunities for advancement.
- Emphasize the Human Element: No matter how large your organization, hourly employees should be treated as valuable members of larger teams – not just numbers in a sprawling corporate entity. While it is impossible for all front line associates to get face time with their organization’s C-suite, employers can establish tools and processes that promote more direct, personalized communication between head offices and individual stores. These platforms should work both ways, allowing hourly staff to have their feedback and opinions passed up the chain of command in a digestible, actionable format. Store employees are usually the first to detect operational issues or areas ripe for improvement; letting them know that their voice matters creates an engaged workforce, and a more successful business.
- Get Rid of Red Tape: Due to a lack of technology and subpar communication methods, plenty of basic employee processes – such as sharing availability, submitting time-off requests or trading shifts – become complicated feats. This weighs heavily on hourly staff and their managers, reducing efficiency and stealing time away from more important responsibilities. Just like consumers, employees want convenience and autonomy at work; that said, this efficiency shouldn’t come at managers’ expense. Employers should look for integrated solutions that fairly ease the administrative load, eliminating paperwork and tedious back-and-forth messages for all store employees.
For service industry organizations, hourly employees can be your best spokespeople. Employers today have an opportunity to rethink their conventional methods, and create empowering work environments that their people are proud to be a part of.