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Engage Your Employees for Long-Term Success in the New Year
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2015 is here in full force. According to the United States Department of Labor, 2014 was the best year for hiring since 1999, with the unemployment rate hitting a six-year low. 2014 was a great year for the retail industry, which saw the biggest hiring increase in more than a decade.  I expect to see increased growth, opening more jobs across the country. Let’s look at three ways store managers can facilitate the new employee onboarding process this year to ensure that each new employee is happy and fully equipped for the new year.

Communicate organizational objectives and foundations

It may seem tempting to skip the usual training process as you now catch your breath from the holiday season. Don’t. Throwing fresh employees into newly assigned tasks or stations without guidance can yield disastrous results. Skipping the training process can lead to new staff providing the wrong information to customers, or even thwarting the entire stock room by mishandling the system, thus missing sales opportunities and reducing overall work efficiency. Invest time to train new hires with as much information about the store—and the organization—as you can. Begin with the basics, like customer service protocols and a map of where inventory is stored, then discuss what each employee is expected to achieve daily and set realistic goals. Before they dive into their responsibilities, give new hires an opportunity to see and learn from an employee working in a similar role. If you need additional reinforcement, a good incentive program involving a bonus or other means of compensation can work wonders.

Adopt cloud-based SaaS HR solutions

We all hate new hire paperwork, but it’s a necessary part of the onboarding process. Fortunately, there is a better way complete this tedious task than having new employees spend hours reading, signing and filling out various HR-related forms. Multiple cloud-based SaaS HR solutions can facilitate the process of filing HR forms. Services like Paylocity, Zenefits and Paycom provide the ability to easily manage and share HR-related documents within the company, and allow both permanent and seasonal employees access to paystubs, tax forms and health coverage documentation online, or on their own devices via the cloud.

Implement a smart scheduling management model

When it comes to creating employee schedules, the time has come to toss the Excel spreadsheets and employee break room whiteboards. Your employees dislike them and so do you. Although these methods may pass muster during slower seasons, they create a weak framework for once the busy holiday season rolls around. Employee schedules will be tough to manage during the seasonal peaks, when managers must find ways to handle the influx of seasonal employees while keeping track of existing PTO requests.

Consider switching to software that optimizes employees’ schedules based on their availability, store sales forecasts, budget and staffing needs. For example, Rite Aid, one of the leading drugstore chains in the U.S., switched to a new system to optimize employee scheduling, improving labor utilization across all stores and reducing schedule administration time. For employees, this translated into increased work efficiency and less time spent manually entering work schedules. For employers, this meant they could now calculate wasted work hours and build optimized schedules based on store traffic and other data.

It will take time to properly address the most pressing HR dilemmas, but managers must do what they can to avoid internal roadblocks and not discredit the basics. A recent study by Deloitte revealed that 79 percent of companies believe they have a significant retention and engagement problem, while 77 percent do not feel they have the right HR skills to address this issue. To try and alleviate such issues, be sure to review internal training programs, identify the best tools available for processing paperwork, and use smart scheduling models to build optimized schedules across each store throughout the organization.

Starting the year out right is an important objective your company should never undervalue. Managers should view each new hire as an opportunity to retain the best talent. You get out what you put in, so set your organization up for success and remember that your employees—new and old—provide better customer service when they receive appropriate training, feel supported by their coworkers and have specific goals to meet.

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About The Author
David Farquhar
David has more than 20 years' global enterprise software experience and has held CEO positions in 6 companies which have ranged in size from mid-market to start-up and has built highly successful international management teams across the world. He has also been Executive Chairman and Non-Executive Director on more than 10 boards.

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