Solving the Retail Employee Engagement Epidemic With Mobile Tech
Employee disengagement is a concern across many industries, but has been statistically linked with several problems for retail organizations in particular, including a disturbingly high turnover rate. A study by The Hay Group revealed a median turnover rate of more than two-thirds (67 percent) of part-time workers. This same churn that makes it harder for retailers to attract and retain talent also affects productivity and the bottom line.
Organizations with engaged employees have been proven to outperform companies without high engagement by 202 percent. Worker performance, of course, affects the customer’s experience as well. Retail stores with high employee engagement have 5 percent higher customer satisfaction scores than those with lower engagement, and Accumulate research shows 65 percent of lost customers can be linked back to an employee who feels disengaged.
Socio-Economic Shifts of Seismic Proportion
It’s no coincidence that retailers are having a hard time keeping employees engaged. The industry has been swept up in a series of socio-economic shifts of seismic proportion, and changes in the technology landscape have exacerbated these shifts.
Deloitte’s Global Powers of Retailing 2018 report points out that the industry is now a hybrid of online retailers and physical stores, creating a highly competitive fight for survival. What has resulted is consumers who are “channel-agnostic … bouncing between online and offline along the path to purchase.”
This turmoil clearly affects retail workers. Deloitte lists the following stressors that can contribute to morale dips:
- higher bar on exceptional customer service;
- more complicated channel configurations;
- measurement challenges with performance and engagement;
- fear of disruption by nimbler e-tailers; and
- ongoing vulnerability to job loss.
Remote working is also more common, which can lead to offsite workers feeling cut off from critical information and resources, which can negatively impact engagement.
And from a bottom-line business perspective, Towers Perin revealed that companies with low engagement suffer from a 33 percent decrease in operating income and an 11 percent drop in earnings growth.
Finding the Right Tools
How can retailers overcome their employee engagement challenges? The retail industry has already adopted advanced technologies, especially mobile apps, to bolster its marketing efforts, and would do well to consider extending this trend to employee engagement. With an integrated mobile engagement platform, retail employers can ensure that their distributed teams receive the information they need, share two-way communication and feedback, and collaborate from wherever they may be. Remote workers no longer have to rely on occasional email updates or quickly outdated internal communication tools. Instead, with mobile engagement apps, retailers can do the following:
- Recognize and reward employees via social media interactivity.
- Offer employees the ability to suggest ideas for innovation and improvement.
- Provide gamification options for employees to provide honest feedback through quizzes, surveys and polling.
- Give all workers easy access to key company documents and training materials, even when they work remotely.
- Promote company events via an online calendar that everyone can see.
- Access employee profiles and contact information through directory services.
Even though the industry’s landscape has been turned on its head, retailers still face the same main challenge when it comes to managing their teams: employees must deliver impeccable customer service if the organization hopes to compete long term. The bar on customer experience has been raised a thousand-fold. It’s no longer enough to have merely satisfied customers; you need employees who truly delight the consumers they're serving. In doing so, retailers can create a culture of engaged and positive employees — the best brand advocates who will loyally support their business.
Geraldine Osman is the chief marketing officer at StaffConnect, a mobile employee engagement platform.