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Rostering automation for retail: the #1 transformation you need to consider

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If 2020 has taught those of us in the retail sector, it’s we need to be prepared for the unexpected. While some retail businesses have sadly closed their doors, others have thrived in the face of these uncertain times. 

There are four common themes I have seen across those thriving businesses: 

  • Access to technology that enabled a quick pivot in a rapidly changing business climate  
  • The ability to easily comply with changing guidelines  
  • Loyal and engaged employees that keep operations running smoothly 
  • Adoption of new ways to provide an attentive, yet safe, customer experience  

For me, it’s clear that employees are at the heart of these themes, and the right employee rostering practices can have a very meaningful and positive impact across the board. That’s why if you are considering any digital transformation right now, an automated and thoughtful approach to employee rostering should be at the top of your list.  

Roster optimisation to respond quickly when disruption or opportunity strikes

At some point in our lives, we have all heard or used the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20.” The beauty of this rear-view mirror perspective is the insight it provides to drive smarter decisions today and into the future, helping us duplicate and refine positive results to avoid the repeat of past mistakes.  

A modern approach to employee rostering will leverage emerging technology like AI and machine learning to surface and evaluate historical data that reflects the current business climate to automatically predict and generate effective rosters that achieve business KPIs, minimise labour costs, improve operational efficiencies, and strike a perfect balance between employee health and safety and productivity.

Simplify compliance and maintain your brand equity 

Non-compliance with ever-changing labour laws and union and collective bargaining agreements can be expensive – from the cost of litigation, fines, and penalties to the potential damage to your brand, should accusations be made public. It can diminish employee engagement and make it difficult to attract and retain top talent. Leaving compliance to chance with manual rostering processes can place your organisation at high risk if you can’t prove compliance with work hour limits, fair and predictive rostering guidelines, and minimum employee qualifications.  

With a modern approach to rostering practices, you can simplify compliance and avoid damage to your brand by enabling multiple layers of defence – from the ability to accurately forecast labour demand and publish optimised rosters that meet business KPIs and legislative or contractual constraints to pre-emptive alerts that warn of potential violations so you can prevent them before they occur.  

Boosting employee engagement is about more than money 

According to a recent Gallup report, business or work units where employee engagement is high are 21-per-cent more profitable. That’s a staggering number. Unfortunately, the same report states that only 85 per cent of employees are engaged, which means there’s a lot of money left on the table.  

Unfortunately, higher pay rates and salaries don’t necessarily equate to higher engagement. For example, found that only 12 per cent of respondents have left their job because they were looking to earn more money. Instead, today’s employees want to feel appreciated, have opportunity for growth, and achieve a work/life balance.  

In addition to the financial gains your business can achieve, optimised rostering has a positive impact on other employee engagement factors, such as showing commitment to employee development by pairing top performers with new or less experienced workers to promote cross-training and mentorship. Early access to planned rosters enables employees to coordinate personal and professional commitments while last minute conflicts can be resolved easily with employee-led, rules-based shift swaps.  

Bring your customers back for more  

According to the same Gallup report I mentioned earlier, businesses in the top quartile of employee engagement reported on average 10-per-cent higher customer ratings and 20-per-cent higher sales – meaning the boost in employee engagement you achieve will also translate to an improved customer experience.  

However, you may be missing out on opportunity to improve the customer experience by not effectively evaluating rosters against critical customer data from enterprise resource planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Point-of-Sale (POS) solutions to determine how various rostering patterns impact customer behaviours, including visitor frequency, duration and spend, turnaround times for delivery, production quality, customer ratings, etc.  

Are you gaining enough value from your current rostering approach? 

Given the current workplace environment, it is more important than ever for organisations to make the transition to the cloud, but this journey needs to be thoughtful. Focusing on the solutions, like our WorkForce Suite, will give you the greatest value while protecting the safety and well–being of your employees will be critical, and in this category, rostering can be a real game-changer.

How WFS Australia can help large or complex retail businesses with their unique rostering needs.

WFS makes managing your workforce easy, less costly, and more rewarding for everyone.

Our solution, the WorkForce Suite, adapts to your organisation’s specific workforce management requirements no matter how unique your pay rules, labour regulations, rostering, and employee self-service needs are.  To learn more about how WorkForce Suite can meet the unique needs of your retail business visit our site.  

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