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GUEST COMMENT How improved access to shift schedules can reduce turnover in the retail industry 

The retail industry has a historically high staff turnover rate. Recent research by LinkedIn shows that retail is currently has the second highest staff turnover rate (13%) compared to other sectors of the labour market.

Part of the problem is that while many retailers have implemented external digital solutions across their business like multichannel retail and ecommerce, many retailers aren’t leveraging digital channels to communicate internally with their teams. 

This can in turn lead to a breakdown in scheduling communication, which often creates work/life imbalance for retail workers. So how can retailers address this issue to help reduce high staff turnover by keeping workers happy and thus more likely to stay with the company?

Early access to shift schedules makes a world of difference 

Many retail shift workers often find that they receive their work schedules with very short notice. This has a big impact on their ability to manage their personal lives outside of work. 

For example, a recent study shows that when shift workers have unpredictable schedules, it negatively impacts their daily lives. The consequences of an erratic work schedule can include being unable to arrange childcare, plan medical appointments, or enjoy a healthy social life. 

This inability for retail shift workers to plan their personal lives around work leads to stress, dissatisfaction, and ultimately makes them less likely to stay at their job. The study mentioned above also found that when workers have access to their shift schedules at least two weeks in advance, it dramatically improves their quality of life. 

Printed schedules don’t cut it anymore. Digital technology like an internal communications platform can help address this issue by providing workers with direct, mobile access to their work schedules 24/7. 

This allows employees to have on-demand access to their shift schedules, making it easier for them to enjoy work/life balance.

Improve internal communications 

Retailers can now adopt an internal communications platform which is accessible by desktop or on a mobile device, giving frontline workers access to the same operational tools that their desk-based counterparts enjoy. Such a platform offers an easy-to-access digital hub that can help retailers ensure key operational information such as shift schedules is moved from paper or email into a central, mobile platform.

Using a digital platform to share scheduling information gives retail shift workers improved access to their shifts and helps prevent communication issues. Internal digital communication platforms have numerous scheduling benefits for frontline workers such as:

  • The option to instantly request schedule changes from management 
  • The chance to pick up extra shifts when they want more hours
  • Minimize confusion over schedule changes

A digital workplace gives employees greater control over their work schedules, which improves overall job satisfaction.  

The right digital communication platform can also help retailers easily manage their staffing levels when needs increase or decrease to reflect demand during high volume shopping seasons like Christmas. For example, Beekeeper gives retail managers the ability to send internal notifications to staff members to help find coverage for extra shifts during peak shopping times. 

Additional benefits of an internal communications platform

Many retail employees don’t work in an office or sit behind a desk, which makes effective internal communication with these employees challenging as there is no regular access to email or a company intranet. 

Traditional tools such as bulletin boards or paper notices pose their own internal communication challenges, as management can’t track who has read the communication. These top-down, one-way communication channels also make it difficult to gather feedback from frontline teams which can be crucial to keeping employees satisfied, engaged, and feeling valued. 

For these reasons, it’s vital to invest in a communication platform that employees can access regardless of their position within the company. 

This digital platform means that, for the first time, all workers in a company can feel connected and engaged with both management and colleagues. They also feel empowered to communicate and have access to the information they need to effectively perform their job duties. 

Ultimately, improving access to shift schedules for hourly workers should be a priority for retail management teams. Better communication with associates on the floor ultimately leads to happier staff who are more productive. It can also reduce absenteeism, which will save retailers time and money in the long run.

Dr Cristian Grossmann is chief executive and co-founder of Beekeeper 

Main image: Fotolia

Author image courtesy of Cristian Grossman/Beekeper

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