Today, we are facing a new normal–possibly for the long haul–in how we manage our supply chains, connect to our customers, and maintain relationships with our employees. As the pandemic draws to a close and the world gets back to work, it's vital that retailers look past cost-controlling and into preparing a solid plan for bringing their employees back.
Reducing store staff has proven to effectively address immediate health and cost concerns, but this strategy can't last forever - and planning now on how you are going to quickly hire (and rehire), onboard, and train staff when doors reopen is much harder than it sounds. The Wall Street Journal describes the process of reopening as “... fragile, partial and slow.”
A solid communication strategy can make a major difference in how fast you get your returning staff up to speed, and your revenue back on track.
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Addressing the Concerns of Returning Staff
Before you start bringing back your team exactly as before, you will have to consider that this really is a NEW normal, and things are going to be different. Keep these in mind as you plan your communication strategy, and your staffing model.
Employees are eager to get back to work, but they still have valid concerns about returning to the workplace. They will want to know how you are prepared to handle issues like shift availability, hours of operation, and processes for them to follow. Remember to address these hard realities directly in your employee communications to avoid breakroom conversations.
Some thought-starters for your communications may include:
- How consumer habits have changed
- Addressing needs of team members who may have child-care challenges
- Whether demand for certain kinds of products have been either accelerated, or postponed
- Geography - if you have multiple locations, they may have different rules
- Safety - you must keep your returning workers safe, and clearly outline how you plan to do that.
Stay Connected with Staff - Past and Present
An essential part of your strategy should be to nurture existing relationships with departed store associates. It's important that your retail employees think favorably of you as a company, and believe in both your future and their future with you - even if they have been furloughed or permanently let go.
Sincerely and frequently staying in contact with your workforce both past and present is a time-tested way to improve existing relationships and begin new ones. Today, there are omni-channel options that help you keep in touch en masse with both current and furloughed/former retail employees, without violating “no work” rules.
We've already shared some best practices on how to keep in touch with your staff, including:
- The importance of recruitment marketing
- How properly off-boarding employees can help with rehiring
- How you can continue to engage associates when you cannot visit them in-store
You can be successful in maintaining contact with former employees (and potential new ones) if you: 1) have the right contacts, and 2) have an effective communications solution that helps you stay in touch, and easily onboard them later.
How SellPro Can Help
Our mobile engagement technology is not the traditional LMS approach - it's a solid, omni-channel foundation that retailers can use to re-open the lines of communication with employees, fully onboard, train, and get retail sales associates back to work.
With SellPro, you can:
- Proactively engage store associates via existing forums to allay fears and concerns
- Have two-way engaging chats with "future" employees
- Enable associates to get certified on required courses quickly and easily
- Host webinars for further engagement and communication
- Jumpstart your hiring/rehiring strategy before the doors open
- Create a dynamic onboarding process that can be tailored to your exact needs
There will be pressure to move quickly this year as the world of retail gets back to normal. Many retailers choose to ramp up fast to get back on a path of recovery as soon as possible. Implementing the right engagement tools now in your rehiring strategy will help you be ready.
Want to see how SellPro goes beyond the LMS to help support your rehiring program?
Employee Forums for Engagement, Communication, and Inclusion
The Ultimate Guide to Training Retail Employees
Winning the Hearts and Minds of Retail Sales Associates
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