The challenging economic and workforce conditions of the past two years are pushing Australian retail workers to their limits with growing rates of fatigue and burnout creating significant issues. The physical stress of working long hours and the emotional weariness of inconsistent shifts, coupled with the current state of the industry, has caused many workers to re-evaluate their careers.

While turnover is nothing new for retail, this has led to the so-called ‘great resignation’ exposing retailers to a critical consequence, where employees are searching for more flexibility, uplifts in pay, engagement, and work life balance.

As retailers grapple with these growing gaps in retention and recruitment of employees, there are key elements employers should invest in to offer an exceptional employee experience that will facilitate loyalty and growth.  

Offering flexibility through self-service for employees

Self-service can fundamentally alter an organisation’s employee experience. It alleviates them of manual, repetitive tasks and empowers them with automation when reviewing rosters, applying for leave, swapping shifts with colleagues, seeking available shifts, and even rescheduling unwanted ones. These options allow employees to have the autonomy to change their work schedule with real-time results. Offering these tools not only gives employees control over their schedule and lets them organise their work to account for other personal commitments, but also gives managers back time in their day to spend on activities that can drive greater value and development.

Providing visibility for managers

Modern workforce management solutions store and maintain all workforce data in the cloud, meaning that both historical and current information are visible and accessible, with reporting at the touch of a button. This enables managers to have accurate information on hand, to make decisions quickly, and support their team members more effectively. It also reduces the administrative burden for team members – giving them a single source to manage and access all their work life in one place.

Fostering a culture of work life balance and productivity

As the retail sector looks forward, there is a growing requirement to weather fluctuations in demand and to schedule accordingly. However so is balancing the need of the employee as they seek jobs where employers are supporting flexible working arrangements. Enabling intelligent technology to craft rosters that accommodate the availability and preferences of your employees and matching them to suitable shifts, means that they are assured a fair roster that appeals to their work life balance and as an employer you’re guaranteed the coverage and compliance of the schedules generated.

While there will not be a one-size-fits-all solution for the retention of employees, by focussing on employee experience through greater autonomy, empowerment of your front-line managers, and flexible scheduling, retailers will be positioning themselves well ahead of the curve. A retailer’s greatest strength lies within its team and supported by the right technology retailers can be confident that they are at the forefront of employee’s minds as the best employer. Creating an organisation that cares about the wellbeing of the employees and makes sure they are taken care of is not only good practice but good for business.

Diana Barbieri is head of retail and hospitality for Asia Pacific at UKG.