Retailers aim to support customers throughout their shopping journey. Today, that journey plays out across digital, mobile, and in-store experiences, making it more difficult to ensure a consistent experience. Many digital and mobile purchases still take place in the store to a degree, with the rise of Buy Online Pick Up in Store (BOPIS) orders.
The store is still a critical channel for shoppers: 78 percent of those surveyed said they still prefer to shop in a store. When they do, associates shape the experience the customer has. Whether customers are there to browse – or pick up an order – store employees are a retailer’s best resource for creating a winning shopping experience.
Strong employee engagement is, therefore, key to earning customer loyalty, and the same digital trends that have shaped shopping are also influencing employee engagement. To explore this, we spoke to Brett Patrontasch, CEO of mobile WFM solution provider Shyft.
Retail Technology Insider (RTI): What can retailers do to improve employee engagement?
Brett Patrontasch (BP): When it comes to employee engagement, it helps to start by asking, “What can I do to support my employees and make things easier for them?” Hourly employees are busy – they may be working multiple jobs, attending school, or taking care of kids or family members. Offering lifestyle benefits such as scheduling flexibility shows associates that you support them as individuals as well as employees.
Then, it’s important to make sure employees feel appreciated when they’re at work. Retailers can achieve this by establishing strong top-down communication and incorporating managers in their engagement strategy.
RTI: What does excellent top-down communication look like?
BP: Based on research, the key factors for successful communication are frequency and authenticity. The number of Millennial and Gen Z workers is steadily growing, and these groups are used to immediate interactions facilitated by mobile technology. Millennials report feeling more engaged when they receive frequent, consistent feedback.
Sending a word of encouragement during a busy sales season goes a long way to help employees feel like their hard work is appreciated. Even better: giving individual employees or teams direct, specific feedback when they’ve gone above and beyond.
RTI: How can organizations engage frontline employees effectively?
BP: Top-down communication can undoubtedly be a challenge for companies, where store employees likely do not have company email addresses. Retailers have often resorted to posting print-outs in the backroom or relying on managers to relay information.
However, with the rise of mobile enterprise solutions, it’s now easier than ever to communicate with your entire workforce. Considering the widespread use of smartphones, mobile presents an opportunity for employers to engage their employees where they prefer to communicate. Today’s workers, especially those of Millennial and Gen Z age, appreciate being able to use the same mobile technology they leverage in their personal lives for their work.
A company-sanctioned mobile solution enables company leaders to distribute notes of appreciation to the frontline. It also provides managers with an efficient method for providing direct feedback, showing appreciation for their teams, and sharing important updates quickly. By providing a central hub for teams to communicate within, you can improve team morale and cohesion while securing employees’ personal phone numbers as well as company information.
Make Employees’ Experience Omnichannel as Well
The retail industry has done an excellent job of responding to customers’ requests to interact on new channels. Now, employers have the opportunity to rethink the channels they use to engage employees. Like shoppers, employees also appreciate convenience, immediacy, and efficiency. By investing in your associates, you’ll ensure they feel supported and motivated to create a memorable experience for customers.