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    Engaging Employees on the Frontline

    Failing to do so leads to high turnover rates and reduced productivity.

    By Steven Kramer, WorkJam

    The topic of employee engagement has gained considerable attention over the last few years. While the original discussion around employee engagement referred to traditional office jobs, the buzz today is about engaging employees on the frontline.

    With customer expectations on the rise, margin pressure from e-commerce competitors, new U.S. legislation mitigating unfair hourly labor practices, and service industry turnover rising, convenience stores cannot afford to put employee engagement on the backburner.

    Lack of engagement often leads to high turnover rates and leaves convenience stores scrambling, spending thousands on replacements. Disengaged workers also hinder workplace productivity by contributing to a negative and inefficient working environment and delivering subpar customer service.

    Employee engagement tools can help to resolve these problems by transforming the employee experience. Implementing an employee engagement solution that simplifies scheduling, improves training and streamlines cross-company communication allows organizations to cultivate a more loyal, capable workforce and in turn make a greater impact on their bottom line.

    With the right tools in place, employers can see huge savings from their employee engagement investment, driven by:

    Fewer Overtime Expenses

    As the Department of Labor’s new overtime regulation comes to fruition, the threshold for workers who qualify for overtime pay will rise from $23,660 to a whopping $47,476. This significant hike has left convenience store operators worried, but employers can accommodate the new rule with more efficient scheduling processes.

    Embracing technology that equips employees with self-service scheduling tools gives employees more say in their schedules and saves managers from logging extra hours on administrative tasks, hours which are significantly more costly to employers under the new legislation.

    Similarly, giving employees more improved communication channels makes it much easier to find available employees for hard-to-fill shifts and supports a decrease in overtime costs across locations.

    Lower Turnover Rates 

    With c-store jobs emerging left and right, disengaged hourly workers don’t feel obligated to stay in their current positions. When employees leave a job where they earned $30,000 or less, it takes 16 percent of that salary for employers to replace them. The quality of customer service also takes a significant hit every time an experienced employee has to be replaced by a new trainee, who is unfamiliar with the brand and workplace.

    To combat employee turnover, employers should seek out tools that reinforce the value they place on their workers. With platforms that help formalize cross-company communication, training, rewards and staff recognition, managers and head-office leaders can make a habit of motivating their frontline people. Putting employees’ well-being at the forefront means employers can mitigate turnover and the costs that come with it.

    Enhanced Top-Down Visibility 

    Corporate headquarters receive little insight into the day-to-day operations of each of their stores. However, integrated platforms can provide a plethora of information on scheduling, training, communication and employee feedback across locations, without putting additional burden on store managers.

    This real-time visibility at the individual store level offers head offices the opportunity to understand performance and compliance efforts at each location, while allowing the frontline to engage with upper management.

    Employee engagement initiatives not only create happy workers, but happy businesses as well. By implementing the right tools, organizations can cut the costs of inefficient staffing, reduce turnover and give head office more visibility and control. Investing in employee engagement is about people, but it can also help convenience stores prosper in today’s challenging industry environment.

    Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

    By Steven Kramer, WorkJam
    • About Steven Kramer Steven Kramer has more than 20 years of executive leadership experience driving business results and developing disruptive technologies for the retail industry. In 1999, Steven co-founded iCongo, a leading global software provider for omni-channel retail and B2B commerce solutions, which merged with hybris Software in 2011 and became the largest independent provider of e-commerce solutions with 27 offices worldwide, 1000-plus employees and more than 600 customers. hybris Software was purchased by SAP in 2013. Steven holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University.

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