RIS: What role can workforce solutions play in maintaining and ensuring employee safety and health?
Menon: Appointment setting solutions ensure that the right staff is available to provide a tailored shopping experience, while helping stores stay in compliance with ever-changing state and municipal mandates throughout the pandemic. Encouraging and simplifying the omnichannel experience also helps on the safety front, by encouraging behavior like curbside pickup. Facial recognition and voice-enabled time clocks can keep associates safe with touchless clock-ins. Reflexis solutions can seek responses to specific checklist questions concerning items such as employee temperature and whether they've been in contact with anyone who has been ill. This also helps with contact tracing efforts.
RIS: Our research data shows the category of workforce management solutions as the top tech investments today in retail? Why is that?
Menon: Pressure from enhancing the omnichannel customer experience created approximately a 30% increase in store workloads — forward-thinking retailers have adopted or upgraded their workforce management capabilities. Retailers also have experienced a decrease in customer loyalty coupled with an increased use of online shopping. Combined with the increased cost of labor, more difficulty retaining employees and lower margins, workforce management solutions are a logical choice to solve those challenges. Workforce management solutions can save retailers millions of dollars with more accurate labor forecasting.
RIS: What new and innovative technologies do you see as becoming more important to retailers as they optimize today's workforce?
Menon: New and innovative technologies to optimize retailers' employees include:
- Augmented reality
- Dynamic scheduling for remote workforces
- Increased use of automation, robotics and sensors
- AI to drive more efficiency, automation and a reduction in workload
- Increased use of blockchain
- Computer vision
- Optimization and innovation in transportation and logistics to reduce shipping costs
RIS: How can retailers effectively use workforce management tools to improve employee engagement and retention?
Menon: By utilizing AI-powered schedule optimization tools, retailers can minimize schedule edits, improve employee satisfaction, reduce absenteeism and incentivize associates. They can also proactively monitor all operational metrics using health checks. By enabling employees with a mobile, intuitive application to view their schedules, whether on-site or at home, associates can take the first pass at adjusting their schedules to fit their needs, in real-time.