Making the Shift from Customer Engagement to Employee Engagement

Joe Skorupa
Editor at Large
By Joe Skorupa
Retailers routinely say that employee attitudes and workplace feelings are critical to sales, brand image and customer satisfaction. However, proven methods to nurture and improve employee engagement have been largely ignored by most retailers. Find out why this is about to change.

As retailers seek to become more competitive and relevant to shoppers, they are leveraging workforce management and human resource tools to find new ways to manage schedules, make easy shift changes, improve communication, and ensure employee fairness, all of which contribute to healthy employee engagement.

Many retailers are now using their workforce solutions to adapt to a more customer-centric approach that recognizes the business value of employees as effective front-line facilitators of memorable customer experiences. In this view, the workforce is an essential asset of the business and a smart target for investment.

RIS News explored this hot-button topic in the recent Custom Research report "The Empoyee Engagement Imperative."

Key findings include:
  • Is there a genuine basis for investing in associates as frontline contributors to improving customer experiences and satisfaction? Retailers widely agree that the answer is “yes” (94%) and that associates play an important role in achieving business and financial goals – 41% say it is very important and 53% say it is extremely important.
  • To get a baseline understanding of how executing this mission works we asked respondents to tell us where the executive resides in the corporate structure who owns employee engagement in their enterprises. The largest block say it is human resources (47%), which is not surprising when the respondent pool consists of national or large retail chains. In enterprises like these human resources controls many of the levers associated with workforce management, more so than store managers (35%), which are the second largest block. Surprisingly, 29% say the CEO is in charge of employee engagement.
  • A little more than half of retailers say their current workforce management applications and tools do a good job of tracking and managing employee engagement programs – 15% say their tools are strong and 36% say they are moderately effective.
  • However, this means that nearly half of retailers say their tools are inadequate – 36% say they are weak and 12% say they have no tools to support tracking and managing employee engagement. 
  • One of the primary weapons in the battle to help retailers succeed with an employee engagement plan is the mobile app, which can be accessible through employee’s own devices. Today, no retailer said its organization has many employee engagement functions enabled through mobile applications and 53% say they have no current plans to roll them out. Wow! Time to wake up and smell the turnover.
  • Among more advanced retailers, 27% say they currently have some applications enabled and 15% say they will implement mobile apps for employees within 18 months.
  • The top three associate metrics that retailers are tracking that go beyond transactions are: customer feedback (65%), e-mail address capture (59%), and new loyalty program sign up (53%).
  • The top-five mobile and/or online HR functions that are currently supported for store associates are: punch in/punch out (65%), request leave/vacation/time off (59%), check schedule (52%), and approve time card (52%).

If you take good care of your employees, your employees will take good care of your customers and your business. No debate there. Retailers now need to find ways to make it happen in their organizations and stores.

To download the full report, with a complete set of charts and in-depth analysis, click here.

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