Want to solve the retail workforce challenge? Think of the omni-connected experience

The retail industry has a serious challenge ahead. Attract and retain workers.

After two years of disruption and worries about job health and safety, many retail workers have decided to take advantage of a wide open job market by finding new roles elsewhere.

Considering that the number of active job openings in retail globally is up 174% year over year, it’s no wonder that attracting employees is one of the biggest issues keeping retail executives up at night.

The answer? A recent Accenture
A survey found that the vast majority of retailers are focusing on improving worker benefits, investing in technology support, increasing wages and reducing transactional activities to try to make work of more attractive detail.

These are all valuable strategies. Yet a third of retail executives think worker morale remains low. And nearly nine out of ten worry about turnover. Clearly, a more fundamental overhaul is needed.

It starts with recognizing that the dynamic between employee and employer has changed. Potential retail employees are not only motivated by the benefits offered. They want something more fundamental: a relationship based on purpose, self-fulfillment, individual action, and trust.

One way to achieve this is to create what is called an “omniconnected” workplace. This means creating an environment where workers feel more connected to each other, to their leaders and to their work.

An omniconnected workplace is a workplace where people feel they can be fully invested in a culture of safety and equality. Where they trust their voices will be heard. And where they can learn, grow, take on new challenges and advance their careers.

Right now, only one in eight retail employees feel omniconnected at work, but the good news is that retail leaders can do several things now to change that.

The first concerns leadership.

An omniconnected workplace calls on retail leaders to be empathetic, transparent and trustworthy with all staff, ensuring everyone feels safe, respected and able to have their voice heard. .

Leaders are finding new ways to listen and learning from the workforce is a key part of this. This could include less conventional channels such as workplace social communities, reverse mentoring, and leadership roundtables.

Senior managers should also seek to reorient management practices around employee satisfaction and experience, for example by encouraging managers to measure and improve these indicators.

The second key step is to nurture a set of cultural norms that emphasize purpose and authenticity.

Retailers need to help their employees understand how each individual contribution plays a role in achieving the higher business purpose. They also need to recognize that a strong brand culture is co-created with employees, not imposed on them.

Investing in learning is another way to show the workforce that the company takes its purpose seriously. Digital technology has opened up a host of new avenues to foster employee development.

The Italian Amplifon, for example, has created an interactive Netflix
similar platform to guide employees through its learning catalog, including automated personal recommendations. The result? The number of courses completed increased by 455%.

The third step is to develop new flexible ways of working.

It’s not just about having the option to work from home. It’s about workers feeling empowered to manage their own time and maximize their own productivity. It’s about having the right technology platforms in place to allow workers to collaborate in digital spaces and coordinate each other’s schedules effectively.

The retail frontline workforce exemplifies the challenge of making flexible working accessible to everyone. These essential employees have fewer workplace choices. But there are other ways to provide flexibility, such as allowing them to take shifts that better fit their non-work life.

The last step reflects the crucial role of technology.

As retailers envision the digital retail store of tomorrow and the evolution of more flexible and integrated store networks, they will need a determined, skilled, diverse and adaptable workforce.

Key to this will be equipping workers with modern workforce platforms, communication tools, automation and data analytics solutions (supported by modern cloud and edge infrastructure ).

These will empower employees across all areas of the business to work smarter and more efficiently, with the autonomy to explore new solutions and uses of data to optimize their work when they need it. need.

Together, these four steps can create lasting positive outcomes for employees and the business, meeting retail leaders’ goals for growth, speed and sustainability and employees’ needs for flexibility, fairness and meaning at work.

That’s why investing in omni-connected experiences should be a priority for any retail leader who wants to tackle labor shortages and sleep better at night.

Michael A. Bynum