Turning Down Turnover

With the right tools and priorities, managers can optimize labor efficiency this holiday season.
Angela Hanson
Senior Editor
Angela Hanson profile picture
C-store cashier

NATIONAL REPORT — At a time when triple-digit turnover rates have become the norm for too many convenience store operators and c-store managers often lack the tools to efficiently and effectively manage labor, it is more important than ever to know actionable strategies for streamlining labor management and reduce attrition by giving employees what they really want.

In addition to wages, there are numerous factors that retailers should take into account when considering what employees really want and what will keep them at their current job or send them searching for a new one, according to the recent webinar "New Research: Optimize Labor Efficiency and Reduce Turnover This Holiday Season," presented by Convenience Store News and sponsored by Legion Technologies.

A recent nationwide survey of 1,500 hourly workers and 500 store managers fielded by Legion found that 87 percent of store managers feel as stressed or more stressed about the holiday season than they did last year — and hourly workers are feeling the strain, too.

Nearly seven in 10 (69 percent) managers listed staff shortages as a reason to feel stressed. An additional 49 percent named economic uncertainty and 45 percent named fewer people spending money/lower customer traffic as stressors.

"The thought that the great resignation would dissipate over time is not a reality," said Michael Spataro, chief customer officer at Legion. "The staff shortage is here to stay."

He noted that this means it must be a priority to give employees a good experience and not add to their own stresses as part of avoiding turnover.

On the hourly employee side, 40 percent said their biggest concern is trying to manage work and family. They are also concerned about economic pressures, such as inflation and unemployment rates. Some specific challenges listed in the survey include not having enough people, scheduling nightmares, poor communication of changes and having no time off.

Scheduling is particularly important to employees, who often work multiple jobs but still want to spend holiday time with their families.

"These hourly employees are under a ton of pressure," Spataro said. Flexibility in the form of complimentary schedules that make it possible to work both jobs while maintaining some level of work-life balance is a way to ease that pressure.

A Shifting Power Balance

Post-pandemic, employees have greater power because if they leave for a better job, retailers no longer have as many or enough workers to pick up the slack.

"To optimize labor costs, you have to look at the retention piece of that cost," said Kristin Brennan, vice president of marketing at Legion.

Forty-nine percent of survey respondents indicated they would consider taking a different hourly job in order to have schedules that meet their preference, while 37 percent would leave for instant access to earned wages and 34 percent want more available shifts.

Brennan noted that pay tends to normalize in a region, which means retailers need to think beyond wages to other perks people look for in a seasonal job. Frequently listed factors that attract new employees include:

  • A schedule that meets my preference (62 percent)
  • The ability to pick up extra shifts (43 percent)
  • Option to stay on long-term (35 percent)
  • Workplace safety (33 percent)
  • Employee discounts (31 percent)

"At the end of the day, it's manual, overly burdensome tasks, recurring and redundant tasks" that are adding stress, according to Spataro.

He noted that 60 percent of store managers still use paper-based processes or spreadsheets for scheduling. Meanwhile, 70 percent of managers say that the hardest part of creating schedules during the holiday season is matching employee preferences and availability with the needs of the business, and 59 percent say creating fair, equitable schedules is the most difficult task.

Additionally, managers say that managing call-outs and no-shows, approving time off requests and approving shift swaps and other employee-initiated schedule changes take the most time and effort when it comes to managing schedules during the holiday season.

Accordingly, automation is the best gift for managers. Tools that they say would make their jobs easier include:

  • Automated scheduling
  • Compliant time tracking
  • Automated demand forecasting
  • Internal communication
  • Instant earned wage access

Managers who can spend less time creating and managing schedules can devote more time to developing their people and interacting with customers, "which is, at the end of the day, what we want," Spataro said.

A replay of "New Research: Optimize Labor Efficiency and Reduce Turnover This Holiday Season" is available here.

About the Author

Angela Hanson
Angela Hanson is Senior Editor of Convenience Store News. Read More