by Rotageek on 31 March 2022
There are several forces of change currently putting pressure on the retail sector. Since the pandemic, this includes major uncertainty in both customer footfall and staff availability.
To protect operations, retailers are having to find ways to insulate themselves and their workforce against volatility and the potential for future shocks.
At the same time, retailers also need to meet growing expectations around the provision of flexible working options – coming from both their employees and the government. Meeting these multiple demands is a challenge, especially at a time when labour costs are on the rise.
It’s forcing retailers to rethink their approach to staffing – and find technology that can provide answers.
When searching for those solutions, however, it’s crucial to keep in mind what’s important. These are the four Rs of resilience, revenues, retention and risk.
During the pandemic, the combination of lockdowns and “pingdemics” created huge unpredictability for retailers, and refocused attention on the need for workforce resilience. This has created a demand for rostering systems that can make it easier for retailers to deploy resources in a more productive, efficient and effective way.
Taking a holistic approach to workforce management is one way this can help. For example, where retailers have multiple stores in the same town, it’s an advantage if rostering systems can cover several stores. This will allow managers to schedule staff across multiple locations to cover the peaks and troughs experienced at specific sites and provide better cover across a broader group of stores.
Given the rising cost of labour, retailers need to avoid overstaffing. But they still need to meet customer demand – or face losing potential sales. With so much uncertainty and volatility around, it can be tricky to get the balance right.
To maximise revenues, retailers need a solution that can schedule their workforce so it can match the very latest demand forecasts. This requires rostering systems that have the intelligence to optimise staffing levels, so the right mix of skills are always where they need to be. This should include intraday planning that helps managers know when it’s a good time for staff to replenish stock and when they need to be out front helping customers and supporting sales.
While having staff in the right place at the right time is vital, the key to improving customer service is to ensure those staff on the shop floor are experienced and motivated. If companies want to retain good staff and keep them happy, they must find ways to improve the employee experience.
Giving staff more control over their schedules, so they can manage their work/life balance, will play a huge part in that. Rostering systems that enable flexible scheduling will provide employees greater freedom to choose the hours they work. These solutions can show workers their shifts well ahead of time and allow them to request changes when needed.
Building flexibility and resilience into the rostering system brings lots of benefits to retailers, but they must be mindful not to expose themselves to potential risk. In recent years a number of retailers have fallen foul of working regulations, so rostering systems must be able to monitor and detect errors when they occur.
Asking an employee to stay on for an extra 15 minutes at the end of a busy day, for example, could tip them beyond the limit of their contracted hours. Instances like this must be automatically checked and flagged to make sure retailers are honouring their legal obligations.
If you’d like to know more about how the challenges facing the retail sector can be resolved, download our whitepaper Squaring the Circle: How scheduling technology is creating flexible retail workforces that deliver for everyone in full here.