Maximising value of employees

Many high street retailers are sadly missing out on the capabilities of workforce scheduling solutions that is leaving them dangerously exposed to operating inefficiently and failing to maximise the value of their employees.

Numerous businesses find themselves operating in the same way they always have done – with an Excel spreadsheet that was set up years ago and it is only its longevity that lends it any form of authenticity. The argument all too frequently put forward by retailers is that such a spreadsheet is all that’s needed, even though it might well be a process that originated some time ago, and has since never been reviewed.

It is this adherence to outdated methods that has distracted many businesses away from deploying their most valuable asset – their employees – in a more efficient way. It should be determined by the ongoing changing requirements within their businesses. And this should be based on data relating to things like trading patterns. But it typically is not!

The fact that Bob arrives at the store at 7am each morning when there is very little for him to do might be down to the fact that the stock once used to be delivered at that time. It might well have been years since this was the case but Bob’s scheduling is as good as set in aspic.

While larger businesses typically have access to workforce scheduling via their global enterprise systems, smaller operators have largely been left out. But with software advances and the advent of the cloud this opportunity is opening up for them and they should be taking advantage (see Access Retail White Paper).

It would not be an exaggeration to say that such an implementation would deliver a five per cent saving on employee costs pretty much immediately. Beyond this the potential is significant but it is very often difficult to quantify because invariably retailers have very little visibility of where their employee costs are being specifically allocated.

We all know that employee costs are a big expenditure for retailers. Pay roll could well be 50% of costs associated with a brick and mortar store after the cost of stock has been taken out. By improving the efficiency of their deployment it can have a seriously big impact on a business.

For salaried and contracted employees their costs are fixed but it is a disappointing fact that their hours will not be linked to the sales figures coming through the tills. By deploying counters to measure customer footfall and correlating this with the revenues at PoS the allocation of employees can be dramatically improved. Many retailers will argue the case that they had a good, busy days’ trading, with revenues of say £1,000, but if they had better allocated their employees then maybe they could have taken in £1,500 as they would have avoided  any queues building up at the checkout.

Avoiding lost sales at the checkout

It is imperative that the decision-makers in a business have access to the relevant data. When we show retailers what is possible from this base data and its powering of workforce scheduling software it is no exaggeration to say that it blows their minds.

Such a move towards optimisation of the employee resource has clear quantifiable financial benefits and it also fits into the increasingly important aspect of quality staffing and delivery of high levels of service being a major differentiator in today’s ultra competitive retail market.

Far too much time is being spent by managers working out rotas in the back room. They could be freed up by the automated capabilities of scheduling software to deliver the value-added bits to customers.

Likewise, with the rest of the shop-floor employees, they can be deployed at times when they can be best utilised and have sufficient time to be able to spend valuable minutes with shoppers, which drives those incremental up-sell and cross-sell transactions.

Scheduling makes it possible to achieve the ideal optimised situation whereby employees are not run off their feet nor are they insufficiently busy They are instead perfectly engaged to the point that ensures the time they are on the shop-floor is quality time that contributes to creating happy customers, which in turn leads to ringing tills.

Matt Newton, consultant at Access Hospitality