Guest Column | November 14, 2019

Employee Assets: How Technology Can Create A Happier, More Engaged Workforce To Boost Your Sales

By Mike Callender, REPL Group

Boost Holiday Retail Sales

It’s often said that – in the digital age – companies focus too much on technologies and not enough on their people.

But what if they used technologies for their people – to enrich their professional lives and create a happier workforce?

Such investment wouldn’t simply amount to being a “nice” thing to do. It is proven to deliver tangible, revenue-boosting benefits, as a recent Glassdoor study directly ties employee engagement to customer satisfaction: In combining data from its own employee reviews of companies and ratings from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Glassdoor discovered that each one-star rating improvement in the employee reviews (in which their employers are ranked on a scale of one to five) results in a 1.3 point (out of 100) increase in customer satisfaction scores. What’s more, in retail and other industries where workers closely interact with customers, each one-star improvement in the reviews results in a 3.2-point increase in customer satisfaction scores, or more than twice that of sectors overall.

The positive impact of engaged employees extends to corporate valuations as well, with each one-star improvement in Glassdoor company ratings translating to 7.8 percent to 18.9 percent in higher stock market valuations.

“A growing number of employers in recent decades have adopted a ‘customer-first’ business philosophy,” according to the Glassdoor study report, which is titled “Happy Employees, Satisfied Customers.” “However, our research suggests that maintaining a healthy and engaged workforce — particularly for customer-facing employees — is a necessary prerequisite for being able to effectively deliver great experiences to customers. Consumer perceptions of the quality of goods and services delivered by companies are heavily influenced by personal interactions with employees.”

And if retailers go beyond seeking “happy” workers – should they proceed to launch initiatives which transform those staffers into “brand advocates” – they could reap more bottom-line rewards. In fact, companies with an employee advocacy program report that they have seen annual revenue growth of 26 percent, according to survey findings from Aberdeen Research. Those same businesses are also 2.7 times more likely to see their sales teams successfully meet their annual quotas. In separate research from the Hinge Research Institute, the top benefits of employee advocacy include stronger brand visibility, recognition and loyalty, along with improved customer service, shorter sales cycles and higher conversion rates. Three out of ten firms are even seeing their customers emerge as brand advocates due to the influence of their own employee advocates.

Taken as a collective whole, the research findings drive home the previously stated point that cultivating an engaged workforce culture goes beyond mere altruism: It results in better retention rates. It reduces absenteeism. It leads to the development of sales team members who are more informed and enthusiastic about your products and are well positioned to serve as evangelists for your brand. In other words, there is a direct correlation between investment in your people and an increase in sales and profits. Thus, it is an ROI generator, as opposed to strictly a “feel good” effort.

To reach this state of engagement, business leaders and managers need to make it easier for employees to do their jobs. They must ensure that their teams understand their value – how their roles directly contribute to the success of the company. And they have to include everyday workforce tasks and processes as a significant focus of their digital transformation investment … Today’s young people practically live their lives on their mobile devices and view the “digitization of everything” as a norm, so they expect their employers to embrace this kind of environment.

Specifically, retailers can achieve all of these objectives via the following advancements:

  • Collaboration Tools – Tools such as Microsoft Teams allow hourly paid workers to take greater ownership of their jobs. Giving employees the ability to view their schedule, request holiday time, pick up extra shifts, see what their colleague’s shifts are and also use the wider communication tools in Teams. 
  • Real Time Task Management – Part of keeping employees engaged and happy is making sure they are receiving communication and updates from their managers in an efficient and timely manner. Solutions like Reflexis’ Real Time Task Manager allow managers to push communication and tasks to a mobile workforce in real time. An added bonus is that the future of AI will only make this a more successful. Allowing for the automatic assessment and assignment of tasks to further expedite assigning and completing tasks that arise throughout the workday.
  • On-Demand Pay – Today’s employees are put under a lot of stress with a majority of them living paycheck to paycheck. With services like Ceridian’s Dayforce that enable on-demand to pay, employers are able to help alleviate the stresses of life and allow employees to focus on work and not their current financial situation.

In order to separate themselves from competitors, organizations often focus too much on investing in the latest technologies and not the heart of the organization, the employees. Whether it be helping employees be more proactive or helping them focus on work and not life, investing in employees is invaluable. Their happiness brings a level of brand advocacy and productivity that no technology could ever bring. Organizations need to switch the mindset around investing in technology to investing in technology for its employees. When employees become the focus, positive results will be observed across the organization.

About The Author

Mike Callender is Executive Chairman of REPL Group, a world-leading consulting and technology group specializing in workforce management, supply chain, point of sale and in-store digital solutions.