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Jcpenney Success: What if You Could Solve Your Associate Turnover & Retention Problems Forever?


Andre Joyner

Chief Human Resources Officer

Steven Kramer

CEO and co-Founder

In this riveting session at the forefront of retail innovation and workforce empowerment, Andre Joyner, Chief Human Resources Officer at JCPenney, alongside Steven Kramer, CEO and co-founder of WorkJam, delved into the transformative strategies JCPenney has implemented to tackle the pressing issues of associate turnover and retention. This discussion, rooted in the alarming statistic from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighting 5.5 million more job openings than workers in the retail sector, offered a deep dive into how digital workplace solutions are revolutionizing employee engagement and productivity.

The Cornerstone of Change
Andre Joyner, with a commendable background at JCPenney and now at the helm of human resources, shared candid insights into the company's journey towards stabilizing its workforce. "We were challenged in the labor market to find the talent we needed," Andre explained, emphasizing the critical retention issues and turnover JCPenney faced. A pivotal moment came when JCPenney decided to listen—truly listen—to its associates. This listening tour, as Andre described, was not about mere conversations but understanding the crux of what mattered most to their employees. It was here that JCPenney identified the core areas needing immediate attention: clear communication, scheduling flexibility, roles and responsibilities, and, notably, wage access.

Digital Empowerment: A Super App Approach
Steven Kramer introduced the audience to WorkJam, a 'super app' designed to consolidate various operational and engagement modules under one umbrella, thus facilitating what he termed 'workforce orchestration.' This digital workplace platform, embodying task management, communication, learning, flexible scheduling, and express pay modules, was deployed across JCPenney's distribution centers and retail operations. The impact was profound, streamlining processes and granting employees unprecedented control over their schedules and immediate access to earned wages.

Frontline Empowerment: More Than Just a Buzzword
For JCPenney, frontline empowerment transcended the realm of corporate jargon to become the backbone of their strategy. "It was about ensuring that associates have the accountability, flexibility, and decision rights they want in their work," Andre stated, highlighting the shift towards giving employees more autonomy. This empowerment also extended to scheduling flexibility, allowing associates to manage their work-life balance more effectively, thereby reducing financial stress and anxiety—a notable cause of employee turnover.

Tangible Results and Surprising Benefits
The implementation of WorkJam's digital workplace platform at JCPenney yielded staggering results: improved associate engagement scores, significant reductions in turnover, and an increase in associate referrals. Perhaps most telling was the feedback from a long-term associate who felt that for the first time, JCPenney had done something truly for them. This sentiment underscored the transformative power of digital empowerment tools in fostering a positive work environment and building a loyal workforce.

A Blueprint for the Future
The dialogue between Andre and Steven didn't just spotlight JCPenney's successes; it offered a roadmap for other retailers grappling with similar challenges. The clear message was that embracing digital tools to empower employees isn't just beneficial—it's essential for attracting and retaining talent in today's competitive labor market. As retail companies look to navigate the complexities of modern workforce management, JCPenney's journey with WorkJam stands as a testament to the potential of digital empowerment to revolutionize employee engagement and retention.

In conclusion, the discussion at the session was not just about the success of a single retailer but a beacon for the industry, illustrating the profound impact of embracing digital innovation and empowerment on the frontline workforce. JCPenney, under the stewardship of leaders like Andre Joyner and with the support of partners like WorkJam, has set a new standard for how retailers can thrive by putting their employees first.

APRIL 2024