3 Ways Retailers Can Streamline Communication to Store Employees
Everyone remembers playing broken telephone as a kid; one person whispers a message to another down the line, and by the time the words make their way to the end, information is lost, added and often completely unrelated to the original version. For many retailers, this is exactly what’s happening between corporate office and front-line employees.
According to a study by WorkJam, a digital workplace platform for the service industry, 46 percent of retailers don’t have a direct channel of communication between their corporate office and front-line employees. Instead, they inform managers about new store processes, products and promotions, and information trickles down the lines of communication from there. In theory, it seems like this method would work. However, there are some major flaws in this top-down, multistep communication process.
Indirect communication creates a substantial gap between executives in their offices at headquarters and associates on sales floors across the country — which can rack up serious costs. To start, employee disconnect can lead workers to feel less loyal to the company, therefore hurting employee morale, increasing turnover and damaging business profitability. On a broader scale, an intended message can get lost in translation when there are numerous degrees of separation between executives and front-line workers, leading to situations where associates in different stores receive very different messages.
Hourly associates represent the face of an organization’s brand and products. As a result, employees need to be well-trained on the core messages of the business, products, campaigns and promotions. However, when associates are disconnected from headquarters, and don’t receive direct, consistent information, they're prone to miscommunication and will often deliver inaccurate messaging to customers.
So, how can a corporate office communicate more effectively with a large number of store associates? Here are three ways retailers can promote consistent and direct communication to its associates, as well as the benefits that can be achieved:
1. Use technology to ensure a consistent customer experience.
WorkJam’s study found that only 11 percent of retail organizations have a digital communication channel for front-line associates, and 36 percent of retail managers still rely on written notes to communicate with employees. Especially in the apparel industry, retailers must implement campaigns quickly and efficiently to keep up with seasonal trends.
With digital workplace platforms, retail executives and store managers have the power to communicate to all, or specific groups of employees, simultaneously. By using instant two-way communication, retailers can cut out white noise and ensure that their message’s intent isn’t distorted through layers of explanation and that valuable information from customer-facing employees can be heard.
2. Ensure training is consistent and unified.
Often, an employee’s first exposure to corporate messaging is their first day of training. Since many retail processes are ambiguous and up to interpretation, a training session could look completely different from store to store. To avoid getting wires crossed, executives should provide unified training modules that remain consistent across locations. Through a digital workplace platform, retailers can easily make available the latest training material, including the use of engaging multimedia. Store managers, regional managers and head office can also track completion of training to confirm that training was accomplished and that the information was learned.
3. Boost employee engagement with valuable corporate messaging.
Executives can better engage their workforces by acknowledging the value and importance of their associates’ contributions to the company. Morale can be driven sky high by sharing with associates examples of the impacts they have on their community and regularly reminding them of the company’s mission and values.
Communicating positive corporate messaging can also significantly improve company loyalty and reduce employee turnover. Surveys from companies listed on the Best Workplaces in Retail list found that part-time employees who claim that their jobs carry special meaning are five times more likely to say they plan to stay with their employers for a long time. Pairing these stats from those from WorkJam’s study, which found that the majority of retail managers believe reducing turnover by as little as one associate per month could lift monthly revenues by at least 6 percent, it’s clear that engaging, direct corporate messaging can lead to increased profitability.
In an industry as expansive as retail, which employs more than 42 million workers in the U.S. alone, executives may find it challenging to keep their employees up to speed. However, with the right digital workplace technology, everyone on a retailer’s team, from the CEO to cashiers, can stay connected to ensure the best possible customer experience. Executives and store owners can leverage these technological advancements to effortlessly streamline new processes, products and promotions consistently and quickly across the organization. When messaging remains clear and consistent across the entire organization, nothing gets lost in translation.
Joshua Ostrega is the chief operating officer and co-founder of WorkJam.