Apr 20, 2016

How To Engage Your Hourly Workforce: 3 ways internal communication can boost employee engagement

Running a retail business in today’s world has become increasingly demanding. Retailers are constantly battling intense competition, tight margins, consumers with evolving standards, and employees becoming more outspoken about workplace expectations.

As pressure builds for retail business leaders, they are starting to recognize that an engaged workforce at the store associate level is key to both satisfying customers and increasing their bottom line. In fact, a recent study by Gallup found developing an internal culture of employee engagement can yield 18 percent higher revenues per worker.

Strong manager-staff relationships, flexible work schedules, extensive training and development, clear career paths, and appreciation of company values are crucial for hourly employee engagement. And the underlying element that supports the success of these seemingly diverse components is effective cross-company communication.Effective communication methods and technology can transform your hourly workforce into active members of your company culture and create an engaging workplace. No matter the size of your operations, every business benefits from smooth-running communication strategies.

Three Ways Effective Internal Communication Builds an Engaged Workforce

Instead of embracing the digital age, many retailers still depend on outdated and ineffective methods for communicating with their employees. Adopting more modern communication tools like mobile and web applications, allows retailers to enhance training, give employees a voice, and promote a happier, more driven workforce.

Foster a More Educated Frontline

Consumers and the media are often notified about product announcements, company updates, and community events that reflect retailers’ corporate culture and brand. But, this information is rarely shared effectively with internal staff. When retailers lack corporate email addresses or use an outdated POS, hourly employees are left out of the loop. But, this presents an opportunity for retailers to maximize internal communication and bring their hourly staff up to speed on key company messages.

Having a communication system that sends company, brand and product updates to the entire organization helps retail employees feel more informed and included. This kind of communication allows employees to see their role beyond their individual store and learn how their work fits into the company at a higher level. With this information on hand, hourly employees are more inclined to act as brand ambassadors and share information about the company’s brand and social activities, philanthropic efforts, new products and promotions within their personal networks. Over time, this grass-roots word-of-mouth can have a lasting impact on your reputation and bottom line.

Alter Approach to Employee Training Programs

In the past, employee training was a combination of in-person shadowing, heavy-duty manuals and bulky binders. Not only do these practices make it challenging for employees to easily retain information, but they also make it more difficult for employers to ensure information is consistent, accurate and relevant across locations.

If corporate teams use digital communication channels, they can quickly send information, training materials and instructions to hourly associates across all locations without any hassle. Taking a mobile or web-based approach also lets companies ditch the outdated training materials for more engaging and interactive programs. The ability to communicate efficiently with your workforce is crucial, especially when preparing for promotional events or managing a crisis.

Get Personal with Recognition

Employees like to be recognized for their work, but it doesn’t have as much meaning if it’s coming from an anonymous or faceless entity. Instead of hiding behind the curtain, retailers should aim to be present and make their feedback and recognition personal. Recognition can go beyond “Employee of the Month” awards or showcasing names on a plaque. With the right communication tools in place, brands can reward and recognize employees in more significant ways such as presenting individual achievements to a wider audience.

As employee communication technology evolves, corporate staff can also share various content materials with specific associate groups based on location, role, and job function (e.g., cashier, inventory, customer service). This targeted messaging allows retailers to move past standard internal announcements and embrace meaningful and personalized communication.

Investing in modern, inclusive and targeted communication methods helps improve your brand in more ways than one. Happier and more engaged associates provide better customer service and reflect a positive brand image; and satisfied customers result in increased profitability. Powerful communication can go a long way. How retailers communicate with their workforce can play a significant role in employee engagement and, in turn, the overall brand.

Joshua Ostrega / HR.com

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