Promoting a healthy public image, attracting motivated employees, and staying competitive requires more than granting employees scheduling flexibility—they need to feel engaged as well. In large retail chains especially, hourly workers must be treated as valuable members of a larger team–not faceless recruits at the bottom of the organizational chart. When running a complex retail organization, it’s all too easy for employee feedback to become muted as it passes through layers of management. Similarly, communication from the top down can feel disembodied and impersonal as store managers relay updates and instructions from corporate headquarters.
Businesses need tools and processes that help managers facilitate closer relationships with their teams, and that establish direct communication channels between head offices and frontline employees.
This means ensuring that information travels effectively up and down the chain of command, including employee feedback. Hourly workers are the first to recognize challenges in their daily work routine or ways to improve store operations; encouraging and listening to their feedback not only bolsters employees’ sense of belonging, but also benefits the business. By simplifying head offices’ ability to reach store employees, employers can ensure more consistent, meaningful communication across different locations, time zones, and shifts.
Make Your Organization Easy to Work For (and With)
Business processes that look good on paper are often cumbersome in process and can create unnecessary hurdles between employees and the results they’re expected to achieve. Organizations should again look to digital solutions that can reduce the administrative hassle associated with many common tasks, leaving employees and managers with more time to focus on their work while fostering a culture of transparency. Like consumers, employees increasingly demand convenience, self-service, and simplicity. At a minimum, hourly employees should be able to easily swap shifts and determine when they’re working without supervisors’ assistance. Workers shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to ask questions or air concerns to their bosses, or even to receive training.
However, retailers should be wary of passing this burden back onto managers. Businesses have to be mindful of adopting solutions that eliminate these hurdles on both sides, rather than shifting the problems elsewhere.
Be a part of the solution
An already challenging retail landscape has been complicated by pressure from the public and regulators to reform scheduling practices perceived as unethical, but retailers can be part of the solution. Consistent schedules are a clear win for hourly employees, and retailers can find new ways to balance these labor needs with their own business goals.
Facing this juncture, organizations have to rethink traditional practices and consider resources that modernize their scheduling, communication, and engagement processes for the long term. Retailers also have ample opportunity to make “quality of life” adjustments to their administrative processes.
Communication between managers and employees should never be a hassle, and communication between corporate headquarters and satellite locations should be direct and individualized whenever possible.
The tools retailers put in place should empower employees to influence their own schedule, conduct self-service functions, easily communicate with managers and co-workers, pursue professional development and offer feedback. The tactics retailers depended on for so long to protect their margins may be falling off the table, but that doesn’t mean businesses have to suffer. With the right effort and an openness to change, retailers can be part of the solution to outstanding hourly labor challenges, to the benefit of their staff and their bottom lines.