productivity in retail
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The productivity trap: Quality vs quantity in retail performance

“Time is of the essence!”

Whoever coined that term forgot to factor in being human; we are so much more than just cogs and gears constantly turning until our shifts end. And yet, in the era of seven-day trading and online competition, productivity is commonly measured by the amount of time spent on the shop floor making sales.

Today’s retail employees face less certain working hours, with the gig economy on the rise, part time employment sits up at 32.1% as of 2021. At the same time, consumer demand for service excellence is on the increase. This means the line between working fast and smart is becoming blurred, leaving many leaders wondering if traditional methods of measuring productivity actually reflect what matters most: providing excellent customer experiences that bring people back.

A common trap that many businesses fall into is measuring output with numbers alone – valuing quantity over quality, sometimes at the detriment of the true star performers within a business. In a setting where customer loyalty ultimately depends on how motivated and engaged your team is, holding staff to cold, hard KPIs alone can backfire, causing burnout and lowering productivity.

After all, anyone can be busy, but are they also efficient, productive and contributing positively to your workplace culture?

It’s not you – it’s me

The truth is, your best employees are more than the hours they clock, the average number of items on their dockets, and the dollar value of the sales they make. Their impact can be felt across the business as they lift up the people around them, and encourage others to succeed alongside them. This is ultimately a reflection of the nurturing and guidance given by their own leaders.

The way to get the best out of your team is to make them happy to give it. As a leader, you are responsible for the conditions that drive productivity – or inhibit it. Coming to terms with this will keep you a leap ahead of the future of retail.

Onboard the right way

First impressions are so important in the workplace and a great onboarding experience will provide new hires with the confidence to strive for excellence from the get-go. Leading by example in the onboarding process will not only prep new employees for maximum productivity, but will also help them feel they’ve made the right choice in joining your team.

Structure those first few days around learning and development, and performance and productivity will follow naturally. Use a well-defined checklist to provide clear expectations and guidelines, and establish a culture of working hand in hand with each new addition to help them on their journey towards providing excellent customer service.

Keep KPIs simple and clear

KPIs and data remain a staple of retail performance, but should be treated as guidance for growth rather than the be-all and end-all that you hold your employees accountable for. Too many numbers can be overwhelming for any employee and can deter from the bigger picture, which should actually involve taking the time to address the individual needs of each customer.

If you must keep data in the line of sight, present it clearly and concisely. Work with your team to help them achieve these goals, rather than using them as a tool to evoke a sense of performance-related fear and pressure. Display simple easy-to-digest dashboards of your business intelligence and hold yourself responsible – not your team – when figures aren’t looking great.

Roster to maximise engagement

Often overlooked is how much rostering can affect employee productivity. If the balance between the number of staff and the number of customers is off, employees will be unnecessarily over-worked, negatively impacting their morale. On the flip side of the coin, too many team members on a quiet day can make for an expensive pay run, without the sales results.

Nowadays, software is available to help businesses prevent these exact situations from arising. AI-driven rostering software helps create rosters that maximise efficiency automatically, helping boost employees’ morale – and ultimately, their productivity.

Provide the right tools

As the saying goes, you’re only as good as the tools you use, so why wouldn’t you provide your team with everything they need to enable their success at work? Employee self service apps are the perfect way to empower your staff, allowing them to see rosters, manage their leave and access relevant business information from their mobile device.

Employee self service plays a significant part in the future of retail by helping entire businesses save time on everything from communicating with staff, to manual data entry. Providing your staff with independence and flexibility creates transparency and promotes employee satisfaction, which boosts productivity.

Roubler is Australia’s leading cloud-based workforce management software. We make managing your workforce simple, through smart, seamless software. We’ll help you to onboard, roster, manage and pay your staff from one cloud-based system, all the while ensuring compliance.

Brian Walsh
Brian brings more than 20 years’ experience building and leading high performing sales teams and businesses across Europe, Asia, Australia and North America. He has worked with 1000s of businesses throughout his career and enjoys helping them grow. As the Global Head of Sales at Roubler, Brian is invested in helping business leaders learn how to manage efficient workforces with highly engaged teams.
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