New Data Reveals the Secret to Outlasting Retail’s Volatility

On the 14th and 15th of March, the Retail Leaders Conference in Melbourne brought together retail industry professionals, executives, and leaders to discuss the latest trends and innovations in the retail industry.

On the 14th and 15th of March, the Retail Leaders Conference in Melbourne brought together retail industry professionals, executives, and leaders to discuss the latest trends and innovations in the retail industry.  

Sudan Jeganathan, our Regional Business Manager Asia was one of the conference speakers, presenting the latest Axonify research “The State of Retail”.  

The Australian retail sector faces complex challenges. Rising interest rates, the entrance of international brands, rising labour costs, labour shortages, and employee burnout have created ongoing competitive pressure within the industry.  

For its annual workforce report, Axonify polled over 1200 US corporate leaders, managers and workers across a range of industries. The research suggests that now, more than ever, organisations and senior leaders need to be aware of just how important their frontline employees are to keep the customer satisfied.  

Undersupported, overwhelmed

Retail brands have this perception that they’re already supporting their workforce with the tools, communication and training they need to thrive. Unfortunately, the vast majority of retail employees still feel under supported.  

According to the Axonify research, only 32% of retail workers feel heard. Given that employees feel powerless to drive operational change or improvement in the workplace, it’s not surprising that 40% of retail workers want to quit their jobs.

Burnout burden

Employers need to be aware of their burden of responsibility when it comes to burnout. It's a systems, process and workplace problem, not just a people problem.

Retention and burnout impact corporate leaders very differently than team members. At the corporate level, these disruptors impact execution and outcomes and inhibit potential growth.

For employees, burnout and overwork lead to more personal challenges. Team members are weighing the need to earn a living and a stable, secure job against their mental and physical health.

Managers burn out faster than anyone else. According to Axonify, 54% of retail managers feel burned out on a daily basis. It’s not unusual for managers to work 50-60 hour work weeks to make up for the fact that they’re short-staffed. When managers inevitably burn out as a result of this unsustainable workload, they take their very transferable skills elsewhere to a more accommodating and understanding employer.  

Unburden your managers

Unburdening and enabling managers is a huge opportunity for retailers. If managers are enabled with the tools and resources to alleviate their administrative duties and more easily communicate with their people and head office, they can start to spend their time supporting and enabling their team. They can do the job they’re meant to do — lead their teams.  

Give your employees what they actually need

According to the research, there’s a disconnect between what workers say they need, and what they actually have access to. The top five success factors employees look for to do their job are:

  • Equitable compensation;
  • Empathetic leadership;
  • Strong employee community;
  • Adequate training and upskilling;
  • Recognition.

Many organisations are investing in community and recognition initiatives but the other success factors ranked very low.  

Effective Communication

62% of corporate leaders believe that the communication that they’re delivering to the workforce is effective at reaching their workforce. And yet only 28% of retail workers believe that the information they are receiving improves their on-the-job performance. By listening to your team it can help you invest in the right initiatives to drive the biggest impact.

Retail workforces need a single hub where they can:  

  • Learn what they need to know to do their jobs;
  • Communicate effectively with their colleagues and with their leaders;
  • Manage their day-to-day tasks.  

Retail success is impacted by digitally enabling your workforce

While retailers have invested in technology to optimise the customer experience, they have largely ignored the opportunity to use technology to support their workforce. Customers use sophisticated apps and AR to make shopping simple, but we’ve still got workers sitting in a meeting room for an hour-long training session on a computer, or studying a training manual in a binder in the break room. It’s not very sophisticated or engaging. Retailers need to prioritise investment in their frontline staff to support them with the tools that they need to perform on the job.

It starts by digitally enabling your workforce. Invest in technology that :

  • Help your team do their jobs.
  • Provides scalable engagement.
  • Effectively enables workers to drive business results.  
  • And provides the insights to make data-driven decisions about your people and the outcomes they deliver.  

if you can exceed the expectations of your team members who bring your brand and its experience to life, they’re more likely to deliver an incredible experience to your customers.  

Check out the full report for more recommendations on how to enable your retail employee with the proper training and tech to perform well in their roles.

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