Technology: key to the retail industry’s employee engagementBY Bulent Osman
When it comes to finding more innovative methods of marketing to consumers, the retail industry is ahead of the curve. A recent article from Forbes highlights several current trends that show just how far this industry has gone to become a leader in its visionary deployment of advanced technologies by:
- Striving to give consumers personalised digital experiences
- Determining how to connect experiences of their online and offline customers
- Leveraging voice assistants to simplify the ordering experience for online visitors
Accenture has identified other critical technology trends for the sector as well - such as making pervasive use of data and striving to become digital platform providers - emphasising 'Retailers that understand and take advantage of these trends will be best positioned to deliver seamless retail.'
These trends suggest that the sector is well aware of the importance of utilising technology solutions for their business model when it comes to marketing and selling their goods and services. But there’s one major area of neglect when it comes to ways that retailers and 'e-tailers' could benefit from incorporating innovative technologies: employee engagement.
This omission is holding retailers back from success, as evidenced by the fact that the industry has reached epidemic levels of disengagement. Recent data from Quantum Workplace found that nearly 35 percent of retail employees feel disengaged on the job.
Why is this a problem? It goes further than simply having happy employees versus grumpy ones; low engagement also dramatically affects a business’s bottom line. Quantum’s report showed that when a company keeps people engaged, the organisation enjoys higher sales and customer metrics, plus lower turnover.
On the flip side, low engagement levels can lead to a plethora of problems for employees, retailers, and customers alike. Low engagement links to absenteeism, loss of productivity, and business disruption. This eventually trickles down to hurt the very people that the retail industry wants to serve: its customers. I don’t need to tell you that once you’ve lost customers due to disengaged employees, it won’t take long for revenue and profit drops to follow.
In search of a one-point solution
These are enormous board-level problems that can feel overwhelming on the surface. The first step is to understand what’s driving disengagement in the retail industry. Here are a few factors:
- Virtual workers. Many retail workers are non-desk employees (NDEs)—for example, working on the retail shop floor, call-centers, or delivery jobs. This creates specific needs to ensure proper communication with the rest of the team.
- Research by Facebook found that the employee experience (EX) is influenced by a sense of optimism, mission, and social good, in other words, pride in the company is a critical engagement driver.
- Retail Australia recently featured research showing that lack of recognition is the number-one reason why retail employees decide to leave a company.
Now we’re getting somewhere. When retail leadership sees what’s behind disengagement, it becomes easier to know how to boost EX. Clearly, challenges of this nature reaching, communicating, and engaging with employees—require a single-point technology solution. There’s currently only one type of technology that can address each of these areas: cloud-based mobile platforms.
A mobile engagement solution can empower retail workers (including NDEs) to feel a sense of mission and optimism, while increasing their awareness of the social good that happens in their company. It also offers a platform for recognition of individuals and teams, which is part of helping to foster emotional connections.
There’s more too, because maintaining engagement involves accurately measuring and analysing engagement levels over time. In the past, this has been difficult for HR and management to achieve, using only limited tools like paper-based surveys and performance reviews. A mobile-based app allows for simplification of ongoing analysis, plus easy management of data insights and surveys.
With behavioural insights gathered from a mobile engagement solution at the ready - plus functionality that allows all employees to share, interact, and collaborate with peers and leadership - retailers become empowered. Armed with the data they need, they can begin to build a profile of employee engagement across not just one outlet, but multiple stores and regions. Retail managers can then make cultural changes in response to employee feedback. Mobile engagement platforms are key to retail organisations finally having the right tools, technology andthe power to reverse the industry’s current engagement challenges.
 Retail Australia
StaffConnect is an enterprise mobile employee engagement platform that transforms the employee experience by enabling businesses to connect, communicate and engage their distributed workforce. Visit www.staffconnectapp.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bulent Osman is the Founder and CEO of StaffConnect, a comprehensive mobile employee engagement platform. The StaffConnect solution transforms the employee experience by enabling large enterprises to connect, communicate and engage their entire workforce, especially remote, non-desk employees.