Magazine Article | July 18, 2007

Meet Demand, Optimize Performance

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Is the pressure to meet the needs of your business, customers, and employees keeping you up at night?

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, August 2007

Savvy retailers understand that focusing solely on business objectives and customer demand can lead to employee dissatisfaction. And employee dissatisfaction leads to poor customer service. A Wharton School study revealed that more than 50% of Americans will avoid a store if a friend or colleague tells them about a negative in-store experience they've had.

In addition, a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Kronos Incorporated shows that when retailers neglect their workforces, the consequences can be severe. The "Black Friday: Inside the Retail Employee Psyche" survey found that the job performance of 43% of surveyed employees is negatively affected when they ask for a day off but are scheduled anyway. Employees react by being less motivated at work, calling in sick, arriving late, or leaving early.

Balancing the demands of business, customers, and employees is made easier through advanced workforce management technology, which enables retailers to attract, select, and hire dependable employees and manage the hiring and scheduling, as well as ensuring labor law compliance and accurate payroll. A workforce management solution schedules employees based on their skills, availability, and even their work/life preferences while optimizing store-specific sales targets, labor budgets, and customer and product demand patterns. Employees receive more of the shifts and assignments they want, and store managers benefit from higher rates of staff productivity, attendance, and retention. Most importantly, customers receive a satisfactory and consistent shopping experience.

Workforce Management Benefits Store Managers, Subordinates
A workforce management solution also enables online applications and automated hiring management. The "Black Friday" survey found 61% of retail employees were more likely to apply for a job with a company that accepts online applications, partly because applying online is faster and more convenient, and companies that offer this option are perceived as being more innovative. Workforce management technology has been shown to nearly double the number of applicants per position.

Employee self-service plays an important role in job satisfaction, allowing employees to request time off and submit availability changes in advance, thereby making it easier for managers to track and manage the approval process of such requests. By taking each employee's skills, availability, and work/life preferences into consideration, a scheduling algorithm also can help strike the balance between store coverage and employee satisfaction.

Retailers from all segments of the industry that have implemented an end-to-end workforce management solution have measured single-digit percentage productivity improvements. For a chain of large stores, there is typically a greater return from standardizing the scheduling process — and realizing both efficiencies and sales gains — through workforce optimization. For smaller format stores, the opportunity often lies in achieving greater consistency: improving organizational visibility, compliance, and control across a large population of stores.  However, what all retailers have in common is that the quality of the customer experience in their stores is highly, if not entirely, dependent on the quality and effectiveness of their workforce.