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In most the western world, unemployment rates continue to fall, which is of course generally good news. However, it places extra strain on industries such as retail, where the shortage of non-desk employees is actually increasing. Retailers are now having to focus on their employee value proposition (orEVP), creating an employer brand that positively atttracts new employees and keeps existing ones.
The industry that has excelled in doing this is technology, particularly giants like Google, LinkedIn and Netflix which have applicants queuing up to work there. maybe it's time that other industries took a look at the best practices of these tech firms and apply them to their own non-desk environments in order to become employee magnets.
1. Provide an inspiring workplace
Image Google Office by: Alan Jensen, courtesy of D / DOCK
The environment in which people has an enormous impact on their mindset. It's not acciental that tech giants such as LinkedIn, Google and Netflix all work from uber-creative business premises that have people queuing up to work there. If employees are frontline, they obviously do not have a say in the workplace - that is, the shop, the hotel, the supermarket - where they spend most their working hourse. But you can also look for original ways to make employees happy in their workplace, even in these less flexible kinds of working environments.
There is, for example, a growing interest in the concept whereby employees are allowed to keep their own mobile on the work floor (BYOD) so that - at opportune moments only - they keep up-to-date about what is happening in the organisation through the internal communication app.
It's also depressingly predictable how often you walk through a store that has been newly refit at a significant cost only to discover a small, dirty and uninviting staff area with next to no facilities. If you want to create a great experience for your customers, start by providing a great experience for your employees too.
2. Don't tie employees to a single spot
Stimulate employees through flexible workplaces because, after all, our needs are always changing. No less than 91% of employees think it is important to be able to work flexibly. The tech giants have been encouraging this for years, but it obviosuly seens harder to achieve for frontline non-desk employees. Yet plenty of opportunities do exist! If you have multiple stores in an area, encourage employees to change branches every couple of years, so they don't get stuck in a rut. This is, for example, an approach that Dutch retailer Bakker van Vessem uses.In this way you stimulate people to get renewed energy through a new workplace in the same company. Alternatively, try to rotate shift patterms so that employees are working with new or different colleagues on a regular basis.
3. Provide a healthy lunch every day
The way to an employees heart is through their stomach, as the saying almost goes. This statement certainly applies to today's tech giants, with Google, LinkedIn, Netflix, Salesforce and Facebook realising the mileage to be had through food. For too long, employees the world over have been pulling out sad looking sandwiches during their linch break. So Google got a famous chef to take care of the lunch. If that sounds a bit ambitious for your organisation, there are other less Michelin-starred opportunities to feed your employees' productivity.
In hotels, for example, it could pay off to provide a delicious but healthy unchtime salad for employees instead of the usual (undoubtedly tasty but less healthy) leftovers from the guests' breakfast buffet. And when we say "pay off", you can read that lterally - not only does a nicely prepared lunch make employees feel more engaged with their company, but also helps to reduce the two weeks a year that most companies lose per employee in sick leave.
4. Involve your employees in the bigger picture
The success of an organisation often hinges on whether its employees - especially the non-desk frontline employees who deliver customer exprience - feel useful and fable to contribute to the bigger picture. It is therefore important to make employees feel connected to the rest of the company - more difficult in a less centralised organisation, but now enabled by technological solutions such as enterprise social media. This is a hot topic, particularly for larger brands with a high percentage of employees working at a branch, in a store, in a hotel or in a restaurant - essentially not sat behind a computer and are often employed on a part-time basis.
Employees who feel well-connected to the organisation where they work are enthusiastic about it, which increases the chances of recruiting new staff. After all, in an age where a great experience can be broadact to the world, positive word-of-mouth is one of the best and most important factors to consider!