Blog post

4 ways tech can help improve employee retention in retail

With the right tools, job satisfaction can become much higher and far less are likely to quit.

  • Topic
    Store operations

Wherever you look it seems employees are leaving their jobs in their 1000s.

In September 2021 alone, more than 4.4 million Americans uttered the words: “I quit!” According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average monthly quit rate for retail in 2021 was well over 4% and second only to hospitality.

It’s been described as The Great Resignation and is, arguably, one of the biggest challenges facing retailers right now.

Recruiting and training new staff on a regular basis is hard work. It’s expensive, it sucks up valuable time and resources, and it inevitably takes time for new store associates to get up to speed and deliver great customer service.

So the question every retailer’s asking is: “How can we improve employee retention?”

Before we answer it, cast your mind back to those surreal days in the middle of the pandemic (we know, we don’t really want to talk about it either but, in this context, it’s important).

Stores were empty, they were closed, and while some retailers redeployed their store associates to help with fulfillment and logistics, many employees were stuck at home and (if they weren’t having to juggle things like home schooling) they had time on their hands.

And, so the narrative goes, they used this time to think about what they really want for their lives and their work lives. They pursued passion projects. They realized all the things they could do with flexible time. And many of them decided that not feeling valued by their employers wasn’t something they were willing to accept any longer.

And this is the trigger behind the steady flow of retail employees quitting their jobs.

The good news is, there are tools and ways of working that can easily help you stem the tide. Your store associates are your most valuable assets. It’s always going to be in your best interests to look after them, make them feel valued and do everything you can to help them enjoy the time they spend at work.

It’s here where tech is your best friend. Let’s take a look at four different ways tech can help improve employee retention in retail:

1. The right tools for the job

Have you ever tried to screw in a nail with a saw? Or carve a steak with a butter knife? Of course you haven’t, yet way too often store associates don’t have the right tools to do their jobs properly - and this starts to erode the trust they have for their employer.

David Wall, from retail workforce management experts SameSystem, explains.

“Having digital tools - whether that’s a POS system or a workforce management app - that make life easy for store associates makes a real difference to employee happiness,” he says. “Retail is full of Gen Z and Millennial employees. They’re used to intuitive apps - that don’t require any training to use - and they expect this from their work environment.

“When they work for a company that uses technology and software to make basic things - like checking when they are working next or sending out a holiday request - easy and reliable, it builds a much higher level of trust.”

By empowering your employees with the right tools, you make their lives much easier and they become much happier at work. This then has a direct impact on your customers.

For example, when your workforce management tool, POS, and CRM are integrated, the level of service you’re able to offer your customers goes through the roof. Not only does it delight your customers, it empowers your store associates and can give them an extra kick of motivation

By empowering your store associates to deliver personalized experiences that go above and beyond customer expectations, you keep them happy and engaged at work. But that’s not all. This approach builds loyalty, generates repeat business and helps your customers get what they want every time.

2. Better forecasting for happier store associates

There’s a sweet spot between how busy your stores are and how many store associates you have working. If you get your ratio between demand and number of employees wrong, everyone gets frustrated. Get it right, and hit that sweet spot, and then the magic happens.

Understaffing results in stressed out store associates and miserable customers (because your service levels will suffer) whereas overstaffing is expensive and leads to bored employees.

“People who work in retail don’t just want to kick back and relax,” David Wall adds. “They want to talk to customers, they want to have something to do while they're at work - they don't want to spend hours twiddling their thumbs, they want to contribute. It’s why we focus so much of our efforts on using machine learning and algorithms to create the best possible demand forecasts.”

Thanks to the integration between SameSystem and Sitoo, forecasts can be created with the POS data. This means they are much more accurate and make sure the right people are in the right place at the right time.

SameSystem’s forecasting can also take into account a huge range of other factors like seasonality, the weather and even dates when people are paid. This gives retailers a much clearer picture of how and when to schedule staff. It also pretty much eliminates over and understaffing. So everyone wins.

3. Attendance Tracking

Great attendance tracking and employee satisfaction go hand in hand.

“There are few things that create the same amount of negativity in employees as not being able to trust they are going to be paid for the hours they’ve actually worked,” says David Wall. “No one wants to work for free and no company expects someone to work for them for free. Tech is a real game changer here and, when attendance tracking is part of the workforce management app store associates are using, it makes it incredibly simple for them to attest their time and get paid for the hours they actually work.”

Again, by simplifying processes like this, it removes worry and doubt from the minds of your store associates. It boosts their satisfaction scores and makes it less likely they’ll leave their jobs.

4. Improved communication

As new generations enter the workplace, they bring with them new sets of values. And for Gen Z and Millennials open and transparent communication is something they expect from their employer.

It’s why it makes perfect sense for you to invest in tech that makes two-way communication between you and your employees simple, straightforward and easy. The best workforce management tools, like SameSystem, have communication functionality at their heart.

So whether it’s a notification of a shift change or a message from a manager, your employees are always going to see it and can easily act upon it if necessary.

In summary

To summarize, tech makes life easy for you and your employees. It cuts out admin, it reduces wasted time, it improves retail operations and it’s empowering. In short, it transforms your employee experience and - because of this - it also boots customer experience.

When your store associates are given the right tools and empowered by technology, their job satisfaction will be much higher and they are far less likely to quit.

So, if you're serious about improving employee retention, tech should be your best friend.

If you’d like to learn more about Sitoo and SameSystem - and the integration between them - then we’d love to talk to you.

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