Retailers across all channels are continually looking for better ways to attract, onboard, train and engage new talent in a way that improves our retention.
Yet one of the biggest issues for c-stores today remains retention of store employees. Year after year, we fail to move the needle. Wage increases and other incentives have not been enough to keep those hired, onboarded and trained employees long enough to bring down our turnover rates. The highest cost comes when we lose the employees we’ve trained after only weeks or months.
C-store retailers need to build a never-ending pipeline of candidates to handle turnover. To do so, many companies have been rethinking diversity and what it means to be a great employee or to offer great customer service.
Appearance isn’t everything; customer service, however, is. While relaxing hair, piercings and tattoo policies have helped in attracting new associates and managers, regional differences in social norms still have many companies feeling they have opened a Pandora’s box in some more conservative markets. So, the dialogue continues in many organizations on how far to relieve these long-standing policies and still maintain the desired brand image.
Increased pay, incentives, benefits and relaxed employment policies are a start, but with increased employee costs, there has not been a significant impact on retention across the board.
Increased solutions sourcing for planning labor, payroll and benefits administration, and workforce management continue to drive down administrative costs and automate very manual, monotonous tasks. Each is necessary given centralization in a chain environment where lean staffs don’t have the bandwidth and/or expertise to manage the store workforce.
There are mobile-enabled, app-based solutions to meet the changing, more tech-advanced employment pool — and not just millennials. The workforce is getting smarter, technology is allowing people to connect like never before, and employees have higher expectations of employers. They want to easily apply, onboard, train, trade shifts with other employees, work in multiple retail locations and easily pick up shifts when time allows.
Employee-facing solutions are coming at lower costs. With improved app-based solutions, employees can download tools on their own devices for associate self-serve administration. When integrated, or part of a learning management solution, these tools become even more powerful for ongoing learning. Employee engagement is enhanced through gamification to reward learning and/or participation, acknowledgement for review of changing policies, procedures and communications. So, look inward. Be an enabler, and engage your teams.
Lisa Stewart, co-founder and president of Impact 21, works with retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and solution providers to build business infrastructure and leverage returns on investment for corporate- and store-level technologies.