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How to be a great place to work

by uma
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While recruiting, motivating and therefore retaining retail staff is not easy these days, there is a formula to follow that has a proven track record and is easy to implement and manage using smart technology, says Fabrice Haiat, CEO and Founder, YOOBIC.

COVID has led millions of people to rethink their work lives, and caused many simply to quit. A survey of 6,000 workers in 2021 by the recruitment firm Randstad UK found that 69% of them were feeling confident about moving to a new role in the next few months, with 24% planning a change within three to six months.

This has actually presented retailers with the best possible opportunity to rethink how they recruit, train, motivate and hopefully retain staff.

In the face of labour shortages, supply chain challenges, inflation and other headwinds, retailers can be forgiven for not thinking positively, but consider what techniques and tools are now available to help them.

However, the current crisis is likely to continue for some time, and therefore, retailers will need to rethink their strategies, in order to navigate the current crisis and put things in place that are going to serve them longer term.

As they struggle to recruit, retailers will need to look for ways to stand out in the recruitment crowd to make them more attractive to potential recruits, and to develop the great place to work image that only a handful of brands can currently boast. These brands emphasise culture and community and aim to practise what they preach in store and on-line.

Key to developing this image is first to be seen not simply as an organisation or a corporation but as a community. YOOBIC research shows that 47% of active job seekers say company culture is their main reason for looking for work. Building a strong workplace community at every level depends first and foremost on being the kind of company that people want to work in.

Part of achieving this is creating an infrastructure that enables staff to feel strongly connected to their employers. American research shows that staff who feel this connection are 75 times more likely to be engaged in their work than those who do not.

We support the building of communities, places where employees engage one another and their leaders to discuss a particular topic or concern. These are designed to increase peer-to-peer engagement, reduce information overload using targeted discussion groups, and increase a sense of belonging to a community.

In this way the positive culture of the organisation is amplified and extended. Proof that this approach works comes from a Gallup meta-analysis which shows that there is an 18% improvement in productivity and a 23% improvement in profitability. Absenteeism falls by 81% and safety accidents fall by 64%. Overall, there is a 66% improvement in employee wellbeing.

However, creating this infrastructure can be a challenge given that frontline employees in retail will be working in multiple different locations in many parts of the country, and even globally. In addition, they will have different shift patterns and different roles.

The answer is to incorporate these capabilities into a digital workplace, a virtual world where all staff can communicate and feel part of a connected community even where physical access to their peers and managers will necessarily be restricted. Employees certainly want it; our own research revealed that 77% of workers believe advanced technology will improve their employee experience.

The unique advantage of this approach is that it is not like conventional technology which automates what is essentially already there, but creates new spaces and capabilities that extend the reach of the retail organisation and its employees, and enables them to take part as peers and colleagues rather than employees.