3 Ways IT Can Solve Retail’s Labor Challenges

Retailers are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On top of growing competition, retailers now have to deal with new, challenging regulations and rising wages. Many retailers are struggling to keep up due to their heavy reliance on traditional, manual and top-down employee management processes. Luckily, retailers are starting to realize that operating with such outdated processes won’t cut it anymore, and more companies are turning to tech-driven solutions to help lower labor costs, drive increased sales and reduce employee turnover. As more retailers look to technology to combat labor challenges, the IT department is becoming an increasingly critical partner.
Here are three ways the IT department can step in and help solve retail’s labor crisis:
1. Integrate HR Systems Across Locations
Employee needs are often overlooked as customer-facing initiatives tend to take priority. With HR related projects on the backburner, retail managers have no choice but to implement their own methods for hiring, training, communicating and scheduling. And as a result, managers are left juggling a mix of unintegrated HR systems that vary across stores. The IT department can help combat this ongoing problem by assisting business executives with the selection and implementation of integrated solutions that work for all store locations. With a centralized solution in place, IT can help retailers manage areas of HR effectively and create consistent labor practices that reduce expanding overtime and overhead costs.
2. Evaluate Existing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policies
Mobile devices have gained traction within the retail environment. It’s common to walk into a store and see floor workers with tablets and smartphones in hand. But as retailers transition into the mobile era, an important question comes to mind – where should these devices come from?
Many retailers haven’t formalized their mobility policies regarding the use their personal devices for work-related activities. While there are no reimbursement regulations in place, California along with other states, are fighting to get a law in motion. If a law does pass, retailers will then have to reimburse workers for certain costs they incur (i.e. from software, cell phone bills, data service usage, etc.). The IT department needs to step in and work with retailers to help avoid these additional overhead costs. The IT team can evaluate a retailer’s current BYOD policy and help minimize the impact while benefitting from the technology in their employees hands. IT can partner with retail executives to create an effective BYOD plan that benefits both the organization and its employees.
3. IT Needs to Step Out of Their Comfort Zone
Traditionally, the IT department has operated in reaction mode whenever a breach happens or the payment system crashes. It’s uncommon for IT to proactively seek out tech-driven solutions to problems that might not fall within their day-to-day responsibilities – labor being one of them. However, IT needs to change their mindset. By getting involved, IT staff can use their technical insight to help retailers adopt tech-centric solutions that will allow them to optimize labor and cut costs all while creating happier workers throughout the organization.

-By Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam

Steven has more than 20 years of executive leadership experience driving business results and developing disruptive technologies for the retail industry. In 1999, Steven co-founded iCongo, a leading global software provider for omnichannel retail and B2B commerce solutions, which merged with hybris Software in 2011 and became the largest independent provider of e-commerce solutions with 27 offices worldwide, 1000+ employees and more than 600 customers. hybris Software was purchased by SAP in 2013. Steven holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University.
During Steven’s time with iCongo and hybris Software, he witnessed a lack of innovation in the retail industry’s human resources function and how retailers hire, schedule and manage their hourly employees. With the hourly workforce in mind, Steven co-founded WorkJam and is responsible for the strategic direction of the company.
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