Problems with the interaction and happiness of retail staff-will tech help?

Retail has a problem when it comes to retaining, recruiting and motivating staff.

Only two retailers – Oliver Bonas and Schuh – have been named in the 50 best companies to work for in the UK, according to employer review website Glassdoor’s Best place to work 2022 survey.

All four retailers that appeared in the index in 2021 – Greggs, Majestic Wine, The Body Shop and Waitrose – did not feature this year, with employee and former employee reviews more favorable elsewhere.

ServiceNow, AT Digital and Salesforce were the top three companies respectively, and Meta, Microsoft and Google all came out in the top 20, featuring the popularity of (and, apparently, positive staff engagement from) technology and digital industry.

Of course, the Glassdoor survey is just an index, but another company tracking workplace well -being suggests that retail and hospitality have some of the worst staff. WorkL, the employee happiness monitor set up by former Waitrose managing director Mark Price, chooses providing pride and well -being as two areas where retail staff do not rank well with their employer and where there are many areas for improvement.

Data from WorkL shows that in the wellbeing ranking, only the chemicals and mining industries are inferior to retail. It also suggests that happiness in the retail industry has fallen into pandemic, perhaps not surprising considering the major challenges it has faced in operating on what has effectively constituted Covid’s ‘frontline’ over the past 23 months.

Speaking at The Retail Trust Leaders’ Summit in November, Price said: “None of us wants to have a worker who is anxious and depressed with a high health risk.”

He added that a happier workforce makes for better business performance. And, according to conversations and presentations at the Retail Trust event, happiness in the workplace comes when employees are given flexibility and when businesses strive to build a suitable working environment by openly talking to their people.

Well -being strategies are all the rage, and it appears that retailers are increasingly recognizing that they have a duty of care to support whatever staff go through. Price suggested it’s wise for retailers to be proactive here, arguing that a “battle for labor” looks set to take place next year – in fact, few retailers have reported recruitment challenges before the recent peak trading period.

Most of the positive work in supporting the welfare and development of staff is now done through the use of new technology or digital platforms.

Asda’s ally is Glassdoor’s number one

UK grocer Asda has deployed number one Glassdoor-ranked ServiceNow services to access its cloud-based software, which is used for automating routine work. ServiceNow’s mantra is “make it, work better for people”, and Asda seeks to implement the technology as part of its broader digital innovation.

The idea is that by implementing tools to make staff members happy, it will show positive customer service.

The Now Platform is set to be the central place for Asda’s 140,000-strong workers, including store and office colleagues, to process queries, ask questions, and retrieve information. He said the staff will be able to speed up the resolution of requests to improve their productivity.

Workers in stores will have the opportunity to access the system via mobile devices on the shopfloor, while administrative colleagues will use laptops in the office.

As part of the support service, ServiceNow promises to make it easier for Asda staff to navigate complex processes to get the information they need to their preferred channels, as well as tailor ITIL standards to streamline and manage access and availability of services and fulfill requests.

Carl Dawson, chief information officer at Asda, said: “The UK retail sector has faced many challenges in recent years, not least keeping deliveries moving and stocked on shelves during the pandemic. , and we need to change to maintain good competition in a rapidly changing world. “

He also suggests that the new technology will allow Asda to “advance new ideas and invest in digital innovation across the business” that will accelerate change in stores and improve how the customer interacts with the retailer.

Jordi Ferrer, vice-president and general manager for ServiceNow in the UK and Ireland, said his company would provide tools “to increase innovation and enhance the customer experience while increasing engagement and effectiveness of employee “.

“This is a great demonstration of how Asda believes in its employees and in their ability by investing in tools to help them work better and more effectively,” he added.

Carpetright is laying out new systems

Since entering the year, flooring retailer Carpetright has announced the launch of several interior tools aimed at supporting its workforce.

After launching its careers website in January, relying heavily on what current staff have to say about the business to promote new roles and careers at the retailer, Carpetright followed in February by unveiling a new internal communication platform across its estate and a dedicated learning platform for workers.

Known as Interact, supported by Interact Software, the comms tool aims to streamline employee communications, and become a “one-stop shop” for colleagues to find information and link to useful websites to support their work. The platform contains daily updates and information, including content related to positive mental wellbeing.

Carpetright said the software will assist the retailer in developing study plans, conducting research and allowing each of its departments to create shareable content.

A virtual Glo Learn area is within the broader platform, and after what Carpetright described as 10 months of development, this service now helps create custom learning for staff. Training is “fun and interactive”, according to the business, and innovates employee development processes.

Shoe in the zone

Following Schuh’s recently announced ranking in the Glassdoor top 50, a spokesman for the retailer said “employee engagement is paramount” for the business.

“We added new benefits to our rewards platform and increased our current health program with additional services to provide additional support to our staff and their families,” they said.

“During lockdown times, we hold weekly online events to stay connected with our people and to maintain a happy work environment. We have adapted our working methods so that we can recruit and induct new members of the Schuh family remotely, and we continue to offer opportunities to learn and grow. “

The spokesperson added: “Training is a huge part of what we do at Schuh. We recognize the importance of investing time with our people from day one and throughout their careers with us.”

Cultural change

Whether it’s evolving to be a hybrid work environment, moving to a four-day week, truly dealing with diversity and inclusion in the workplace, using new technology to support staff training, or illuminating for the sake of the employee in general, a change of culture is needed.

That was an important message from the Retail Trust event at the end of last year, in which Price – who was Waitrose managing director between 2007 and 2016 – described the culture as “the sediment of past transactions”, it added. is “very difficult to change. a culture”.

Management needs to live out their values, he said, and show “every day, every day” that they believe in the well-being of their workers or, for example, in the flexible work practices they implement. They just can’t say, they have to show.

Andrew Jurd, head of human resources for retail at Next and a panellist at the same event, said flexibility is “inherent” built into how Next manages its shifts and contract workers, but he acknowledged that there major challenges in allowing managers to be more flexible. employment options.

“Flexibility is diminishing because the perception is‘ We need you here all the time ’,” he said.

“We have to focus on the management level – I think it’s something to be afraid of. We have to go through [working from home] epiphany with management structures and started saying, ‘Actually, it can work’. “

Jurd announced that Next is exploring how a four-day-a-week style set-up might work for some staff. There is also more flexibility now, for example allowing on-site meetings to be conducted from home where appropriate to reduce time spent in the office and allow staff to build these catch-ups more smoothly in their day.

The advent of technology, including online video conferencing platforms, for example, enables such a step-and in many ways, that is one of the real positive stories of the pandemic’s impact on the world of work.

But whether retailers use technology to help improve lives for staff or not, Price said the priority for driving workplace happiness is centered on a particular relationship.

“The single most important thing that pertains to mental, physical [and] Financial well -being at work, and your propensity to quit, is your relationship with your line manager – it’s absolutely critical, ”he explains citing data that WorkL tracks.

“If there’s a really big lesson to be learned, it’s about providing line managers to help people have a better experience in their working lives – this is the most important thing you can do.”

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