To do more with less in 2023, start by fixing your frontline EX
By JD Dillon
Chief Learning Architect, Axonify
“Do more with less.” It’s the official theme of 2023 as companies tighten budgets and shrink expenses in response to recession fears.
Luckily, grocers are experts in this area. Over the past three years, these retailers managed surging business volume and inflationary costs. Digital transformation accelerated with the adoption of new business processes, including online ordering, self-service, curb-side pickup and automation. Many grocers achieved record profits in the face of generational change. And they did it while shorthanded, often relying on fledgling frontline workers with minimal industry experience.
Grocers with highly-capable frontline teams will be in a better position to do more with less, deliver value to customers and achieve their goals in 2023.
Imagine what they could have done with fully-capable frontline teams!
Why just imagine? This year, grocers have the opportunity to stabilize their operations and prepare for the next economic shift. They can improve efficiency, elevate CX and reduce costs. But first, they must fix four chronic employee experience (EX) problems so they can attract, retain and enable great frontline workers.
Problem 1: Burned Out Managers
Managers are the cornerstone of retail operations. Everything goes through them. To store associates, the manager is the company.
Managers have done their best to keep up with change for the past three years. They’ve kept stores running smoothly despite labor shortages, rising costs and demanding customers. As a result, 49% feel burned out every day according to the 2022 Deskless Report.
Managers need more help. Corporate must provide managers with the tools needed to simplify their roles. They must reduce administrative burden so managers can focus on what matters most: leading their frontline teams.
Problem 2: Manual Scheduling
Scheduling is one of the best examples of administrative tasks that must be taken off managers’ plates. Just as corporate workers are demanding more hybrid and remote options, frontline employees want more flexible schedules, including the ability to easily swap shifts and pick up extra hours. Unfortunately, they’re often bottlenecked by antiquated processes and manager approvals.
Grocers must invest in modern EX technology that automates the entire workforce management process. This will help managers maximize labor hours while enabling the flexibility employees need to balance their personal and professional responsibilities.
Problem 3: Repetitive Work
People get bored doing the same thing every day. It’s a reality of frontline work and one of the biggest reasons retailers struggle with turnover. Plus, when an employee is only trained to do one thing, managers struggle to fill staffing gaps in other departments.
Grocers must prioritize cross-training to solve this problem. Training more employees to handle more tasks makes the operation more agile. Managers have more options to deal with absenteeism or sudden shifts in customer demand. Plus, cross-training adds variety to the employees’ shifts and creates opportunities for promotion and pay increases.
Problem 4: Poor Communication
Only 39% of frontline employees feel heard. The other 61% feel like just another number. Why should they try to do their best or even stay on the job?
Grocers of every size and scale must find new ways to connect with their frontline. This includes providing channels for two-way communication so employees have the opportunity to share their ideas, experiences and feedback. Information rarely “bubbles up” or “filters down” where it’s supposed to go. Grocers must leverage mobile technology to connect directly with employees and make sure everyone has the latest info, regardless of when they’re scheduled next.
No one knows just how challenging things will get this year. But there is one absolute certainty: grocers with highly-capable frontline teams will be in a better position to do more with less, deliver value to customers and achieve their goals in 2023.
JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.