If you’ve ever worked in retail, you’re probably familiar with the outdated ways in which you might find out your schedule. When I worked at a clothing store in the mall, I would fill out a form that listed my availability every few weeks. If I needed to take a vacation day, I’d fill out another form. My supervisor would post the printed schedule, one that was likely put together in Excel, in a communal area so everyone could see it. And then everyone would copy his or her schedule down, again by hand. This is a time-consuming, antiquated process that costs retailers time and money that could be better spent elsewhere, which is why retailers are in desperate need of an upgrade.
Not only that, but retailers are stressed out over the recently proposed overtime legislation by the Obama Administration. In our current retail environment, salaried workers who make more than $23,660 a year cannot receive any overtime pay, even if they work insanely long hours. But the proposed rule would up that line to salaried workers making $50,440, letting workers be owed what they deserve for their hard work and long hours.
Retailers are concerned that this will increase costs across the board, where they will have to hire fewer people and limit the number of advancement opportunities for workers. However, if retailers take the steps to upgrade their own systems and ways of conducting behind-the-scenes business, they might not feel the brunt of the costs.
A company called WorkJam offers retailers an employee relationship management platform to address all the different aspects of today’s worker-supervisor relationship.
“There’s a lot of pressure on retailers to maintain their margins,” says Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam. “Although we understand both sides of the argument, we are sensitive to the retailers. The solution is finding the middle ground, something that will allow managers to free up time from these manual processes, streamline operations and be more productive.”
Ten years ago, which is about how long ago I was working at a clothing store in the mall, these types of technology advancements didn’t exist – and my iPhone was definitely not yet running my life. Therefore, it’s important for retailers to realize what’s out there now and utilize it to their advantage, especially the ease and convenience of smartphone apps.
“Companies have been so focused on customer experience, there hasn’t been much focus for optimizing their own operations,” Kramer says. “The nice part about this platform is that innovation and technology leads to higher employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.”
The WorkJam platform allows employees and managers to:
- Set and manage availability;
- Create schedules;
- Manage shifts;
- See open shifts;
- Request sick time and vacation time;
- Post and participate in training sessions;
- Communicate with everyone; and
- Rate managers and each shift.
Another unique feature is that this entire platform is wrapped into a rewards program where employees can earn digital badges for accomplishing certain milestones, such as great customer service, taking an open shift or completing training topics. By racking up badges, employees will then get priority for schedules and vacation requests. According to WorkJam, these incentives drive better employee productivity and will make it easier for managers to reward them for hard work.
By switching to a digital platform, retailers can also maintain better compliance practices. “How do you maintain compliances if you have all these manual processes occurring? If someone calls in sick, what controls do you have in place if it’s all manual?” Kramer tells RM. “Our system is geared towards setting legal and corporate compliances. These are all parameters you can set up in the app. You have the controls in place that you can see where you need to pay overtime, approve something, etc. You know ahead of time instead of taking a hit later on.”
Although the official court ruling for the overtime legislation is still months away, retailers can start making changes now to better improve productivity and communication and decrease margins across the board.