2019 was a busy year for retail and hospitality innovations. We saw the continual rise of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), an increased focus on experiential retail, the intersection of the online and offline world, and more. We’ve also learned how the associate needs to be considered an ‘internal customer’ to ensure success among organizational morale, service quality, and associate retention.
With 2020 around the corner, retail and hospitality organizations have much to consider as the global war for talent intensifies and the world of work continues to change at an unprecedented pace. Below I will outline how and why leaders need to implement an associate-first approach going into 2020 and beyond. I will discuss how organizations can best leverage the upcoming holiday season, how work will transform over the next decade, and NRF’s Big Show in 2020. First thing’s first: the holiday season.
This Holiday Season, Invest in your Internal Customer – the Associate
It is no secret that the winter holidays are a critical indicator of success. Sales quotas are high, consumer demands are intensified, and the pressure is on both employers and associates to deliver exceptional experiences. According to McKinsey, U.S. consumers spent a record $850 billion in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2018. This was up 5 percent over 2017 and was the largest sales jump in six years. And, holiday sales are likely to increase between 4.5 and 5 percent in 2019, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast.
The numbers speak for themselves. You need to deliver, and so do your associates. During the holidays, it is crucial that retailers double down on their associates’ well-being and overall company engagement. To show your associates that you value them this holiday season, ensure work-life balance for your permanent and seasonal associates through predictability and fairness, “86” call-ins through better planning, and instill a culture of flexibility. Engaged employees help drive sales and therefore your bottom line – and companies with highly engaged associates outperform their competitors by 147 percent, according to Forbes. It’s critical for retailers to optimize their operations to help managers and associates be successful, stay motivated and engaged, and therefore deliver an exceptional customer experience particularly during the holiday shopping season.
According to WWD, between 70 and 80 percent of consumers are eager to try emerging technologies within their holiday shopping experience like VR and AI. With this in mind, retail and hospitality organizations need to reconsider the way associates connect with customers as the physical store interacts with the digital realm. This takes many forms, from a customer coming into the store to pick up an online purchase, to using AR in the store to help visualize an outfit, makeup, and more. These digital experiences will require a uniquely tailored customer service interaction from the associate.
Your associates are the face of your company, and they’re the key to happy customers and healthy sales. For optimal success this holiday season, the path to success is clear: invest in the associate experience and well-being of your employees.
EX Remains Central to Success in 2020 and Beyond
In Ceridian’s recent ’2020 Future of Work’ report, 999 decision-makers across industries were surveyed about how they are responding to key forces impacting the future of work. Here are the takeaways that stand out for the retail and hospitality industry:
For the first time, there are five generations in the workforce. The retail workforce spans the generational spectrum and is often considered a non-traditional workplace with part-time employees, seasonal hires, varied hours, etc. For these reasons and more, leaders need to adjust their definition of what it means to be an associate as they look to the next decade. This means organizations should focus less on perceived generational differences, and more on personalizing the associate experience, regardless of generation profile.
Furthermore, as leaders learn to adjust to the rapidly evolving workforce, implementing modern technologies will be critical for organizations to stay competitive in the future of work. For example, technologies that help with upskilling and re-skilling the workforce, along with talent and recruitment, will be critical investments.
The report shows that 63% of organizations expect to be facing a skills gap in the next two years. By implementing the effective use of technology and succession planning, the potential for a significant skills gap can be mitigated. Associates should be able to envision a future at their organizations, and considering the five generations currently in the workforce, individuals can feel intimidated by the inevitable advancements of the next decade. The best way to equip your employees for tomorrow is by ensuring their skills are up to date today.
Lastly, the research shows that organizations view rapid technological advancements as a challenge rather than a transformational opportunity. To succeed in the future of work, you need to view technology as an enabler, not a disabler.
The bottom line: associate experience is a strategic differentiator in attracting and retaining top talent and succeeding in the future of work. Employers need to create experiences that are not one-size-fits-all, and uniquely tailored to each organization, each employer, and each associate.
NRF 2020 – Retail’s Big Show
2020 kicks off with National Retail Federation’s ‘Retail’s Big Show’ in New York City. Retail and hospitality organizations come from all over the world to discuss talent and visionary tech within the industry.
The NRF 2020 theme is vision: meet visionary people, hear visionary ideas, experience visionary tech, and leave with a vision. Dayforce, Ceridian’s flagship human capital management (HCM) cloud software, is an embodiment of this theme, and arms leaders with differentiated technology and the support they need to help achieve their strategic vision. At NRF, we will highlight the different ways that our company and our technology help empower and enable leaders to achieve their strategic vision by:
- Delivering value through harmonized HCM – an end-to-end solution that connects workforce management, payroll, and talent in a single system
- Helping leaders prepare for the industry of tomorrow through technologies that drive meaningful value for brands and associates
- Helping retail and hospitality organizations build a workplace that associates care about and want to work for the long-term
- Optimizing operations while ensuring predictability and fairness for each associate
We’ll also be focusing on the importance of financial well-being for associates. Given that 80 percent of workers are stressed about their finances on a day-to-day basis, leaders should seek-out technologies that give their associates greater control over their financial well-being. Technologies like Dayforce Wallet give retail and hospitality associates instant access to their earned wages when they need them, with a few clicks on their mobile devices. To create competitive associate experiences and meaningful work-life balance, brands will need to embrace innovations that promote financial wellness among their people.
At NRF, we are bound to see how emerging technologies are driving rapid digital transformation and innovation. The future of work is daunting, but with the right talent and technology in place, retail and hospitality organizations can look forward to a bright and successful future.
Learn more about Ceridian’s 2020 vision and latest innovations at NRF 2020, booth #4655.