The combination of greater competition, digital channels, economic uncertainty, more demanding consumers and higher costs all threaten the revenues and profits of UK retailers. Failing to adapt means risking their long-term survival – the stakes have never been higher. Success rests on becoming more agile and innovative, which is directly linked to their biggest asset – their people.

At the same time getting the best from staff has never been harder – to engage with them successfully retailers need to conquer four major challenges:

1. Increase productivity at a time of rising costs

Growing staff costs, such as the National Living Wage, impact the retail bottom line. Increasing staff productivity is therefore vital – and this means ensuring that employees are engaged and motivated if you want to keep their skills and get the best from them. Measure engagement on a continuous basis to identify areas of concern, and take action to ensure that staff are happy and able to do their jobs successfully.

2. Engage staff in a fast-changing world

The rise of digital channels and the shift away from the High Street has transformed the retail landscape, and the roles of your staff. In many cases company cultures and objectives have changed, and it is vital that frontline staff are aligned with the company vision and are playing their part as ambassadors for the brand. In a fast-moving world measuring this alignment through annual employee feedback surveys is not frequent enough. If you want to keep staff engaged and motivated you have to open a two-way dialogue with them, using continuous listening to ensure they understand and are committed to your aims.

3. Collect feedback from across the organisation

Major retailers employ thousands of staff, spread across the country. This can make it hard to listen to all of their feedback and act on it quickly and effectively. However, the first hand insight that frontline staff provide is vital to better understanding customers and their needs, so make sure you are able to capture feedback and act on insight from across the entire organisation.

4. Listen to your people’s ideas

Your frontline staff are talking to customers every day. This makes them ideally placed to provide feedback and ideas that enable you to be more agile and innovative. Ensure you are listening to their insight, by making it easy for them to share ideas that you can evaluate and act on.

For retailers to overcome these challenges, they need to change how they listen to their people. That means moving on from solely running an annual engagement survey, broadening the ways they collect feedback to include more regular pulse surveys, always-on feedback, online communities and by listening across the employee experience. Taking this new approach to feedback will help transform how they operate, enabling retailers to be more nimble, productive and customer-centric by getting the best from their people, now and in the future.

Find out more about how adopting new ways of listening to your people can transform your business by visiting our retail webpage.

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