Welcome to the new decade! Last year we saw significant advancements in retail and hospitality innovations and experiences. We saw the continued rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), an increased focus on experiential retail, the intersection of the online and offline world, and more. These innovations are continuing to evolve, and so too are the skills needed to work with these technologies.
As retail and hospitality organizations continue reinventing themselves to meet customers’ needs, they must also increase focus on meeting their associates’ needs. In a highly competitive market with digitally-savvy, discerning customers, the retail and hospitality workforce plays a key role in driving a service culture and building long-lasting customer relationships, ultimately driving revenue. However, as competition intensifies and the war for talent persists, retail and hospitality organizations must work harder to engage and retain talent.
Leading retailers are transforming the associate experience to become more harmonized and interconnected. From the moment an associate engages with the organization during recruitment, to onboarding, learning and development, and beyond – employers will need to deliver an intuitive and seamless experience to engage and retain talent for the future – similar to the consumer experience.
Here, I detail three focus-areas for retailers to consider as they look to establish workforce harmony in the decade ahead.
Happy associates equal happy customers. Research shows that a five percent increase in employee engagement leads to a three percent jump in sales growth. Retail and hospitality organizations can differentiate themselves from the competition in 2020 and beyond by effectively investing in innovative technologies to better engage their associates. Industry trailblazers are providing their workforce with self-service access that focuses on associates and their wants, needs, and desires, such as: visibility and access to additional hours from other locations and brands, bulletin boards to post shifts to for pick-up, real-time communication with managers and co-workers, and pay clarity. Systems that support a culture of engagement are paramount.
Leading organizations are also supporting their associates beyond the status-quo by giving them same-day access to their wages with on-demand pay software. With 80% of U.S. workers living paycheck-to-paycheck, and the nature of the retail industry including gig-workers and hourly workers, technology can help support associates’ financial freedom and sets the organization apart.
Additionally, employers can provide their workforce with virtual assistant technology to provide a more seamless experience when associates are on-the-go.
There’s a common misconception within the retail and hospitality sector that high turnover rates are inevitable. Because of this, associates often enter the workforce with the mindset that it’s a temporary gig, and that they won’t be able to build a career out of it. To break through this common misconception, employers need to double down on investing in their workforce – and that starts with providing meaningful learning opportunities.
Employers can define clear career paths for associates by tying skills development with succession planning and task management. Creating career paths will also help managers better understand how they can support their team in reaching their goals.
Top retailers are delivering customer experiences that are personalized and tailored to their needs. Organizations can adopt this personalized approach by investing in learning and development the same way using Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs). This technology helps associates discover materials that are personalized and relevant – similar to the consumer shopping experience. Additionally, when retailers invest in training their workforce on new product launches and customer experience training, it will not only help build associates’ expertise but also boost confidence so they can deliver the best customer experience.
Fifty five percent of organizations surveyed in Ceridian’s Future of Work report said that ‘increasing compliance and regulatory complexity’ is a challenge that their organization is facing today. Adding to the complexity, retail and hospitality organizations are likely to have disparate stores and locations across municipalities, provinces, and borders which makes tracking and managing compliance even more difficult.
In the retail and hospitality industry, employers must manage compliance for a very diverse workforce consisting of part-time, full-time, seasonal, contract, and student workers. Compliance also spans multiple areas of the business including: fiscal governance, operational policies, labor laws, hour and wage, and more.
Organizations can institutionalize compliance by making it a long-term, strategic priority. To accomplish this, retailers must focus on the right systems and culture – which creates true advocates for their brand through effective engagement, learning, and consistent messaging. Using a single system to manage information, provide training, and make policies more accessible will help employees gain visibility so they can practice effective compliance practices for the long-term.