3 Ways to Use Tech to Retain Top Retail Talent

Chris Wakely
by Chris Wakely 04 May, 2014

The retail industry is projected to grow 10 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, the latest tech trend to hit the retail industry is less about winning customers and more about pleasing employees. The same could be said of many growing industries. 

The growth of the industry brings new challenges of onboarding, engaging and retaining more retail workers, who are often spread out over multiple store locations and spend little time in meetings or checking emails at desks. With nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population using tablets, according to research from Careerbuilder, mobile communication has become a natural solution for retail staff, who are on their feet all day and must access work-related information while on the move or at home after work. Here are three ways mobile is impacting retail human resources. 

Benefits and Reward Packages at your Fingertips 

Benefit provision is one of the largest business costs for the majority of organizations and a major driver of staff engagement. Providing the right rewards can be central to incentivizing employee behavior and engagement. But there is a challenge for retail employers to ensure that their employees truly understand the value of the benefits package offered, and recognize the investment that the company makes in its reward spend.

Retail employers can capitalize on the mobile explosion to increase employee interaction with and appreciation of benefits and total reward packages. Thanks to increasingly consumerized, cloud-based human resources technologies, retail HR and staff managers can provide tablet and smartphone optimized, intuitive and engaging employee self-service portals and benefits communications. 

When it comes to onboarding new hires, mobile technology can play a key role in streamlining benefits enrollment and other traditionally tedious processes. Some business use a strategy called 'on-boarding in a box,' in which a tablet pre-loaded with all enrollment applications and electronic forms is given to the employee to complete on the spot. This eliminates the need for cumbersome and time-consuming paper-based processes, which can challenge an employee's expectations of their new organization.

With mobile portals and self-service platforms, employees can view their benefits statements or summaries anytime and anywhere. They have quick and mobile-friendly access to their reward packages whether on the store floor, while traveling between stores, and even during non-work hours, like when they are at the pharmacy filling a prescription, for example. 

Company Culture on the Go 

Whether stationed full-time at headquarters or part-time at a satellite store, all retail staff members want to feel like they are part of the organization. That's why, regardless of an employee's location, core company culture messages must be communicated clearly - and frequently - across all levels. Today's HR technologies allow organizations to brand and automate mobile-optimized employee engagement messages so that they can communicate consistently about culture, values, and employee expectations; recognize outstanding workers; showcase leadership; and highlight accomplishments.  

Personal Attention Automated 

In retail, it's easy to feel lost in the shuffle of day-to-day, particularly at a larger company. However, through cloud-based HR technology, employers can personalize communications to their staff according to demographic data, status changes, etc. Software can identify employee status updates such as address changes, new job titles, or family changes and automatically generate personalized messages to offer congratulations, alert employees to required actions, and aid in benefits selection. These messages go a long way in helping employees feel valued as individuals, especially when received on their personal devices.  

HR technology platforms optimized for mobile devices are helping to inform and engage retail employees across multiple locations and at multiple levels of the company. The industry has only just begun to capitalize on the new HR technologies available for the increasingly remote workforce. Utilizing mobile technology for HR and workplace communication provides retail employees the tools to achieve success for continued industry growth.

About the Author

Chris Wakely heads up the enterprise sales and account team at Thomsons Online Benefits from their Silicon Valley Offices. He has been with Thomsons for more than nine years and has worked in HR technology for the last 15 years, having previously been in the global accounts team at Microsoft.