English - United States
Let's address the elephant in the room straight away. No point sugar-coating it: these are not the easiest times for retailers. In the US, giants like Nordstrom, Macys, Kohls and JC Penneys are at an all-time low. Barney's has already gone belly-up.
However, the likes of Walmart and Target are flying. Amazon has made the move to bricks-and-mortar stores too. A number of luxury brands are also going from strength to strength. So why are some companies barely surviving while others are thriving?
While online-offline strategy and positioning in the market have a vital role to play, the retailers that are continuing to perform have another thing in common: they're invested in their employees. When times are tough, the standard knee-jerk reaction is to cut costs. That reaction is the wrong one – just ask Barney's.
There are four key points that all retailers should bear in mind. If you work in retail and don't have any tattoos yet, it might be worth heading to your local parlour and having them sketch these on your arm. They're that important.
If you've recovered from those bombshells, and possibly your new tattoo, then it's time for a couple more important considerations. You can just note these down tho – no need for body art this time.
The need to provide a great experience for employees now goes beyond satisfying customers and impacting the bottom line. Employee experience is now essential if you want to attract any employees at all. High employment rates mean there are currently more jobs than there are employees in many developed countries. If someone doesn't feel engaged or connected to their employer, they can jump ship for another role which pays more, has friendlier shift patterns or is simply closer to home. This is intensified by a generational shift. Speakap's own research reveals that millennial and Gen Z employees demand engagement and experience from their employers. Oh, and frontline customer-facing industries like retail now comprise 67% millennials and Gen Zers!
The case for investing in employees and the employee experience is clear. If you want to improve that experience within your organization, just where do you start?
If you want to create a high quality workforce of engaged employees who stay with your company, begin with their very first interactions with you as an employer: onboarding.
Employees who receive a good onboarding are 30% more likely to feel well integrated into their new place of work, 30 times more likely to experience high job satisfaction and 18 times more likely to feel committed to their company. Well-onboarded employee become highly-engaged employees who stay with companies longer.
It's important to have a well-oiled process for all new-hires as good onboarding can't be deferred. After just one week in a new company, 33% of new hires know whether they want to stay long-term; almost two-thirds know whether their new role is a keeper after the first month.
"What I love about MorSay is the longevity that it gives us. We're now using it as part of our recruitment, so as we know someone new is coming into the business, we give them access to MorSay immediately. They're somewhat trained and assimilated before they even start working officially." — Liz McGowan, HR and Retail Director, Morley's
"We actually make it mandatory for our employees to download the Speakap app (iOS or Android) onto their mobile devices when they accept a job with Rituals. More specifically, the store managers have their mobile devices (and Speakap app) on the shop floors all day/during their shifts, while store associates switch off their phones during the peak hours of 12 pm to 6 pm." — Penny Grivea, Managing Director of Rituals UK
"The lines are short with Speakap. If I have any questions, I can always directly ask a question to somebody at the Head Office or in our Buying Department." — Mystelle Wempe, Visual Specialist at Hudson’s Bay
Onboarding is not a quick, simple fix. Far from it. Successful onboarding requires a strategy, an agreed process, the right technology solutions to support the process, and buy-in from the entire organization, including senior leadership. Research from Sapling HR suggests that the average new-hire onboarding experience consists of 54 activities.
However, it's undoubtedly worthwhile. A good onboarding experience dramatically reduces the ramp up time it takes for an employee to become fully productive, while it can also improve employee retention by 82%.
For one Speakap customer, the global cosmetics giant Rituals, using Speakap – or Rituals Connect as their branded employee app is called – during the onboarding experience also gets new employees used to using Rituals Connect as their first port of call, whether that's for internal documents, their latest schedules or asking for advice from more seasoned Rituals employees.
“We serve the most demanding consumers in the world, so education and training of our employees is key. We use Speakap to share principles, instructions, feedback learnings and standards of performance. It drives the team productivity and enhances the overall customer service.” Stephanie Nickens, Senior Shop Manager, Rituals US
Follow this advice, create an up-to-date and documented onboarding process and invest in your people, and you can we one of the retailers who thrive and not just survive during these tough retail times. Oh, and you'll also have some interesting body art!
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