3 Reasons to Invest in a Mobile Workforce

While retailers are focusing on consumer mobile apps in an effort to improve the customer experience, they often forget about their internal customers – their workforce. In fact, 58% of retailers said mobile was a top priority in a Forrester report conducted in partnership with[1]. This is because of the rapid growth in consumer mobile shopping and the perceived potential in developing mobile apps. Now, I’m not suggesting that it isn’t important to have a solid consumer mobile strategy; I’m suggesting that many of the same considerations around experience should be viewed from the associates’ perspective.

Why? Because your internal customer (store associate or management) is your brand and your key to improving the external customer experience – both for in-store as well as online.  It’s a fairly simple formula -- engaged associates provide better customer service resulting in increased revenue and customer loyalty. 

Research consistently indicates about 70% of workers are not engaged. Therefore, it’s imperative to put more focus on your internal customers. Engaging your workforce often comes from applying the same thought process used to engage the end consumer. Consumers value the speed, flexibility and convenience of mobile applications, and so do your associates.  In fact, the number one “surprise” for retailers implementing Dayforce HCM has been the positive adoption and resulting improved experience of the associates. Offering mobile tools means that your workforce is “much more likely to interact with peers and employers if communications are digitally delivered to their mobile devices,” according to an IDC Retail Insights study. However, more than two-thirds of retailers haven’t implemented mobile applications for their staff.

While there are numerous benefits to investing in a mobile workforce, these three rise to the top:
1.       Productivity gets a boost when your workforce is mobile equipped. Schedules can be viewed, swapped, and updated from anywhere. Important corporate news, policies and documents can be instantly communicated and easily accessible. Workers who span multiple brands and locations, such as floaters or those in loss prevention, can be up-to-speed at all times. And managers can reduce the amount of time spent scheduling, approving requests and managing associates’ time, so that they can focus on store operations.

2.       Employees feel empowered when they can access work-related information and make transactions on their mobile devices. Requesting time off, viewing timecards, managing availability, checking earnings -- all can happen when and where the associate wants (they'll also be more responsive to manager requests and inquiries.) Managers and associates are no longer tethered to their computers, so they have the freedom to work directly with each other in delivering differentiating customer service. The added bonus of predictability and fairness drives associate engagement higher.

3.       Improved work-life balance leads to better employee engagement and less turnover. Mobile technology enables the workforce to stay looped into the business while being present in their personal lives. Ceridian’s recent Pulse of Talent research found that employees, particularly Gen X and Millennials, view technology as a big factor to improving work life. Retailers offering mobile tools are acknowledging that their employees have more to tend to than their next store shift. Employees appreciate and respond with greater loyalty when some of the administrative burden is lifted and a better work-life balance is offered.
Today, the biggest opportunity for mobile is in the workforce applications of it. Consider it an investment in the lifeblood of your organization.  Productivity will improve and profitability will increase, as many independent studies by Gallup and PwC have shown.

-John Orr, SVP Retail, Ceridian HCM