Article | August 30, 2013

5 Recommendations For Retailers Using Workforce Management Tools

By John Orr,  senior vice president of retail strategy and execution, Ceridian HCM

For retail corporations, as with companies in all other corners of the business world, resources can be scarce and every dollar must be allocated wisely. To that end, many merchants are using workforce management tools to make sure they strategize well how to utilize the finite amount of labor at their disposal.

This can be difficult for many retailers. If too many employees are being deployed in a certain location, or only at certain hours, it can damage the company’s ability to properly address all customer service concerns.

Ceridian recently held a webinar to discuss this dilemma. I met with Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, to discuss the ways companies can use analytical tools to improve the way they use their workforces.

There are no easy answers to the workforce management dilemma, but here are five helpful guidelines.

  1. Improve customer service
    One of the most important things merchants can do to ensure the long-term loyalty of their customers is offer consistent and reliable customer service. If employees respond to consumers’ concerns in a knowledgeable, courteous and timely manner, it will help them earn people’s trust and keep them coming back. Companies should use workforce and human capital analytics to ensure they’re hiring the right employees with the right skills available for the best results..
  2. Leverage payroll spend where possible
    It’s also important to keep costs down. Paying for customer service coverage can be expensive, so businesses should look for places where they can streamline processes, consolidate systems, and improve labor spend distribution. Human capital management tools can improve the attraction, management, assessment, and development of its people to gain differentiating advantages.
  3. Address the retail paradox
    It’s important to note that the needs for strong service and low costs often contradict each other – the finest customer service commitments cost money, and it can be impossible for companies to improve service and trim their budgets at the same time. Retailers shouldn’t kid themselves – this paradox is a reality, and there’s no way around it. Luckily, they can use workforce management tools to find a happy medium that works for them.
  4. Reduce turnover
    Employee turnover is a major factor that disrupts the productivity of retail companies. It’s difficult to get the most out of each individual worker if team members are constantly leaving to pursue other opportunities. By engaging the employee more, retailers will extend the stay of an employee, saving them time and money. In addition, the employee will feel cared for and that provision of caring will be extended to the customer, thereby enhancing both the employee and customer experiences.
  5. Comply with labor laws
    Depending on a company’s exact location, there are likely a large number of labor laws designating when, where and how often employees can show up for work. Child labor laws, for instance, are important for retailers that employ teenagers in their stores. Analytical tools can help companies make sure they’re complying with all local and federal laws that dictate their workforce decisions.

Managing a large workforce is never easy for a retail company juggling a large number of logistical concerns. Fortunately, state-of-the-art human capital and workforce management tools can remove some of the headaches from the process.