June 2, 2019

How to Prepare Your Retail Business for the Coming Shifts in Workforce Management


Computers and robotics are the steam engine of the modern era. Technology is again revolutionizing the global workplace. 

Digitalization has set up the new pillars of the global economy—real-time communication, the Internet as the unlimited knowledge base, and instantly accessible information. By 2022, the number of mobile devices will have surpassed the number of people on the planet by one and a half times. In recent years, leading retail chains, such as Target, Lowe’s and Best Buy, have started testing robots in their stores. Innovative tools based on artificial intelligence are projected to create approximately $3 trillion in business value by 2021. 

Career expectations have also evolved; the notions of job security and company loyalty are not to be taken for granted anymore. Employers are increasingly relying on part-time workers, independent contractors, and freelancers—in 2018, salaried employees make up the majority in less than half of organizations worldwide. More and more employees are opting for freelancing or multiple part-time engagements as an alternative to a lifelong, full-time job in a single company. The “gig economy” is upon us.

In this new marketplace reality, rebuilding legacy workforce management processes might be perceived as a challenge; but it is also an opportunity. Technology can help businesses upgrade outdated processes and transform HR from a service-oriented, reactive function to a proactive force that drives company success.

Leveraging the momentum for change

Employee shift scheduling is the foundation of workforce management. It governs the level of productivity, allows supervisors and line managers to assess business needs, and ensure customers and clients are serviced with quality. Effective scheduling is business-critical, but many organizations are still relying on outdated, manual scheduling tools that are inept for an increasingly mobile work environment.

When planning and creating a shift schedule, managers need a real-time view of employee availability and skills, so they can assign the right person to the right shift and resolve any potential conflicts. In retail, for instance, the in-store experience mainly depends on sales associates’ product knowledge, so it’s critical to always assign product experts to peak hours in the store. Moreover, supervisors require a high-level overview of labor costs and regulatory compliance to avoid potentially costly repercussions.  

On the flip side, employees will no longer settle for unpredictable schedules and the lack of control of their working hours. They demand schedule visibility and real-time shift notifications well in advance—as well as the flexibility to arrange trade shifts easily with their peers. Seamless, real-time communication capabilities and fair schedules have become the top priorities in the job search.

Static tools cannot possibly meet these workforce-centric demands—they can even foster frustration and animosity in the workplace. Moreover, rumors about poor workforce management can ward off talents through unfavorable employees’ reviews on recruiting sites.

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To address these challenges, a growing number of companies—particularly shift-centric organizations in retail, healthcare, and hospitality, among others—are deploying scheduling platforms to upgrade their organizational processes and optimize staffing costs. There is a myriad of apps that promise increased productivity—from scheduling and monitoring attendance to managing benefits and payroll. Workforce Management solutions that automatize time-consuming, administrative tasks are especially valuable to managers who have other, more pressing responsibilities on their plate. 

However, most of these tools cannot technologically support the access and flexibility that modern Human Resources and Operations departments demand. They are not built for the cloud from the ground up and are not mobile-ready, so real-time workforce management is limited or not possible at all. Moreover, the majority of these platforms are stand-alone solutions that don’t offer full integrations with the HR back office. 

Integrating scheduling, leave management, payroll, data sources, and other capabilities are the next steps for forward-thinking Human Capital and Workforce Management vendors. 

Humanity has made it its mission to identify and integrate its powerful scheduling capabilities with leading HCM systems. These collaborations are established to address the needs of enterprises and large organizations: to eliminate double data entry, accelerate their scheduling processes and empower their teams with an intuitive, mobile-first solution. 

Today’s organizations can only thrive if they invest in upgrading their internal processes and better address the needs of the workforce. There’s no shortcut to this, but leveraging the strengths of specialized, innovative tools can certainly make this ambitious project much more painless.