Retail businesses – probably more than any other type – go through a high rate of staff turnover. It is not because they are bad employers but due to the fact that so many retail jobs are taken on by people looking for seasonal work or as a stop-gap measure. In addition, the retail sector has a disproportionately high number of younger and part-time employees in its workforce compared to many others. All of these factors can add up to something of a headache for continued operational success. As soon as retail managers think they have their team working like a well-oiled machine, something will change. This can mean you feel as though you are starting again from scratch with rotas, training and development.
This is where adopting the right sort of management systems can make all the difference. With the right procedures and best practices in place, your workforce should always feel engaged, properly managed, motivated and keen to put in a meaningful shift. Crucially, the best management practices in retail environments will work regardless of your team’s make up. Established members and newcomers alike should respond in just the same positive manner if you adopt the right approach. So, what are the workforce management practices every retail manager ought to be following and what sort of workforce management software packages help to enable them? Read on to find out.
Back Your Workforce Up
An important step in building trust among your team is to stand up for them once in a while. When customers take the attitude that shop assistants are always in the wrong and they are always right, it can be quite demoralising. Of course, all customers should receive a respectful response even if what they are saying is wrong but that does not mean always acquiescing to them, especially in front of your team. If employees think their manager will never stand their ground with a customer – no matter how reasonable the case might be – then they will soon take the attitude they shouldn’t bother either.
This could lead to operational problems down the line, of course. Employees who accept returns that they shouldn’t, for example, just to avoid saying ‘no’ to a customer will affect your bottom line. Therefore, you need to set an example in how you interact with clients and show your team you’ve got their back when handling tricky customers. What’s more, they’ll respect you as a manager more if you do.
Improve Staff Retention
Small steps can make all the difference in reducing the costs associated with hiring new employees. An accurate understanding of staff sickness rates with effective absence management software will help managers to make the right decisions on who to let go from seasonal employment and to retain on longer-term contracts, for example. Controlling staff absence with software isn’t simply about quantifying who has been off work or late most often but understanding the reasons behind it an assessing it fairly. Get it right and you will keep the right team players, thereby boosting staff retention.
You can also lower your employee turnover rate by simply treating your team as valued members. Retail managers who show little personal investment in their workforce because they expect them to move on will probably see them do just that as a result. Treat employees as people you want to retain and it is more likely they will. It is as simple as that!
Make Roster Scheduling a Priority
There is nothing that upsets employees in any sector more than when their carefully prepared social plans see alterations at the last minute due to work rosters changing. Of course, no one is suggesting that work patterns don’t need to be altered from time to time to meet changing customer demands or simply because someone has gone sick. However, you will improve staff morale no end if you can offer as much notice as possible before rotas undergo changes. This will often mean using the most up-to-date workforce management software for rostering these days – systems that allow you to allocate hours of work to your team in advance but still leave room for any last-minute alterations that might be forced on you. Most retail workers know that plans change here and there and accept it as part of the job.
In this last regard – the issue of perceived fairness – software systems can make such a big difference to managers. Not only do they help the forward planning of rosters among the workforce but they provide an accurate record of who has been absent and when. They also record who has done ‘their bit’ of responding to last-minute changes and who might be justifiable in their claim that they aren’t receiving ‘fair treatment’. With the data at your fingertips – drawn directly from absence management software, for example – you can address all of these reasonable concerns. Paper-based systems simply don’t cut it, especially when some of the information you might like to share with employees remains private.
Boost Employee Engagement
Workforce management packages can help managers to foster a better level of engagement among their team. Employees who feel they are being managed well with the latest digital tools will be happier in their work. Your data might suggest the organisational skills of certain employees has been demonstrated in the tasks you have set them. Perhaps they are ready to be more engaged in the sector with some team leader training? Or maybe you will assign them more logistics work in your goods-in area? Equally, employees who engage with customers face-to-face very well might be more suited to shifts in a customer service position? How you use your software tools to drive employee engagement is up to you, of course. What you need, however, is the quantitative data to be able to get the ball rolling in this process.