Nov 16, 2015

Employee Turnovers Now At 26 Percent for Many Retailers

Study finds inconsistent scheduling tops the drivers for high turnover rates.

Retailers now serve more as pit stops for hourly workers than places for building long-term careers. A new study by WorkJam found 34 percent of retailers have a quarterly turnover rate of at least 26 percent for hourly staff and one-third of retail managers feel this rate has increased over the last two years.

According WorkJam, an employee relationship management platform for the service industry, outdated and inconsistent scheduling practices are running rampant in many retailers — and it’s taking a toll on their bottom line.

One key driver of this turnover is inconsistent scheduling—a problem that continues to plague the retail industry. According to WorkJam’s study, 26 percent of hourly workers quit their last job because their schedule was inconsistent and didn’t fit with their other commitments.

In addition, more than half of hourly employees receive their schedules a week or less in advance. The constant unpredictability often leads to impossible tradeoffs, taking a major toll on work-life balance and pushing workers to look for jobs that better align with their needs.

To counter the high turnover rate, retailers can optimize labor efficiency while still boosting the bottom line by:

  • Prioritizing shift-management: Create schedules that work for both employers and employees by making shift management a priority.  Seek out new employee-centric processes that give employees more voice in choosing their schedules.  By accommodating their employees’ preferred shifts and availability, retailers can reap the benefits of having happier, more engaged employees, lower absenteeism, and lower turnover.
  • Streamlining communication: The WorkJam study found that of  the 84 percent of employers who have processes in place for employees to share availability before schedules are made, 43 percent of workers submit written requests, 31 percent have a conversation with their shift manager, and 11 percent submit availability via email. Balancing these various forms of communication meant that matching employee shift requests and availability becomes less of a priority behind just getting a set schedule. Employing an integrated communication channel accessible by all employees autonomously will cultivate consistency and alleviate unnecessary stress surrounding communication and scheduling.  In fact, 65 percent of workers say they’d try harder to find shift replacements if they had an easier way to communicate with coworkers, while 53 percent would be more likely to pick up open shifts. Integrated, cross-channel communications will result in simpler, faster management.
  • Eliminate manual processes: According to WorkJam’s study, 67 percent of employers still use paper schedules and spreadsheets to create hourly workers’ schedules, compared to the 31 percent that use online tools or shift management software. On top of this, 68 percent of employers still share staff schedules via physical charts posted in breakrooms or other communal areas. Manual processes for scheduling mean that meeting every employee’s individual scheduling needs is next to impossible.  The study found only 29 percent of workers rarely receive consistent schedules and — despite nationwide pushes to stop “clopenings” (back-to-back closing and openings shifts) — 48 percent of employers report their employees are frequently or sometimes scheduled to work these shifts. Understaffing is an unintended consequence of using manual processes.   To combat these consequences, retail mangers should adopt new technologies that optimize efficiencies, paired with transparent communication between managers and employees for successful and seamless scheduling that will reduce turnover and understaffing.

Christine Kern / Innovative Retail Technologies

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