In the retail business, much has been said about how COVID-19 has transformed it. The specific pressures and problems retail establishments have faced – and continue to face – must be taken into account.
The challenges retail stores face during the pandemic
Pandemic-induced anxiety and fear
Due to fast-paced work settings, limited breaks, and constant change, retail associates are already under a lot of stress. Now, on top of that, as a result of COVID-19, customers’ buying patterns, retailers’ capital, and job security are all uncertain.
Additionally, retail associates must deal with the pandemic’s influence on their health and personal life, as well as caring for loved ones. For instance, if a child is quarantined at school due to a positive case, the employee may be required to take unplanned time off.
A smaller pool of associates to choose from
Retailers have struggled to fill positions despite a rise in client demand. There are still a large number of employees who fled their workplaces during the epidemic and have not returned. Some people are contemplating their careers, while others will wait until their pay and other needs are addressed before deciding.
Because of this, there are fewer workers covering more shifts and assuming more responsibilities. More perks, better work-life balances, and raises are needed to attract and keep skilled employees in the retail industry as competition for workers grows even fiercer.
New, more complex responsibilities for employees
Employees have taken on additional tasks in the workplace, including enforcing social distance and masking regulations in-store, completing curbside pickup orders, and more. As a result, employees have had to take on additional tasks and learn new skills in order to provide top-notch service to customers.
How to boost engagement during the pandemic
It is possible to help your retail workers in a variety of ways. Workers and customers alike can benefit from the use of contemporary technology in times of uncertainty and competition.
When assessing potential tech solutions, bear the following points in mind.
Communication is more important than ever
Employees must be kept up to date with the latest developments, including store hours, sick-leave policies, and shift availability. They need ways to communicate both with management and with other workers in real-time. Shift bidding apps, collaboration platforms, and instant messaging tools can help.
However, keep in mind that as most things switched to digital during the pandemic, data became more vulnerable than ever. That’s why these tools also require developing security and compliance policies. For example, if you’re using instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp to keep employees in the loop, you might need to implement a WhatsApp archiving solution in order to stay compliant.
Employees preferences matter
While many shift scheduling tools rely on Artificial Intelligence and analysis of previous data, it’s also important to take your employee’s needs into account.
Artificial Intelligence should be able to factor in both historical traffic patterns, such as seasonal demand or weather, and the preferences of individual employees. Employees’ self-esteem and commitment are boosted as a result of such a gesture.
Staffing shortages must be avoided
Employees may be required to phone in at any time due to the unpredictable nature of their new obligations at home. If these changes are not communicated appropriately, it might cause staffing shortages. Staffing shortages can not only hurt customer experience but also cause employees to become overworked and disengaged.
Self-service solutions allow staff members to access and amend schedules, request vacation time, or swap shifts, all from their mobile devices (within corporate guidelines). Because of this flexibility, management doesn’t have to worry about filling in for employees who are unable to come to work.
Because of a lack of workers, retail employees are struggling to execute essential activities and deliver a positive customer experience. Burnout may lead to an increase in the number of people leaving your company, which is exactly what you don’t need right now.
Workforce management and self-service systems appear to be most advantageous to store managers. Employees will appreciate them just as highly if they have greater control over their schedules and the flexibility to prioritize personal needs without fear of punishment.
In addition, they won’t have to do the work of numerous workers when schedules are rearranged to meet consumer and operational needs. As a result, you’ll be able to schedule more individuals at busy times.