By John Orr, Senior Vice President of Retail at Ceridian
For retailers, it’s a challenge 24/7 to meet the many demands of effective workforce management – keeping your store well staffed, handling the inevitable scheduling conflicts and maximizing the productivity of your staff members. These issues are always relevant, but they’re especially pressing as the holiday season picks up and business gets a little frantic.
Many retailers have already been promoting holiday specials, but the day after Thanksgiving is still considered the true kick-off to the holiday shopping season. Black Friday may be a bit diluted with Thanksgiving Day store openings and pre-holiday sales events, but it is still a day of big sales, over-enthusiastic customers and swamped employees.
Some companies are deciding that they just don’t want to deal with the headaches. For example, REI, the popular outdoor apparel retailer based out of Kent, Washington, recently made news by announcing that it would close its stores altogether on Black Friday, according to HRE Daily. Jerry Stritzke, chief executive officer at REI, told the news source that the Friday after Thanksgiving will be a paid holiday for all of his 12,000 employees.
“Instead of reporting to work, we’re paying our employees to do what we love most – be outside,” Stritzke said.
While some retailers are choosing a similar route for reasons ranging from brand alignment to employee support, many retailers are not only upholding the Black Friday tradition, they are maximizing it with earlier openings and sneak-peek promotions. This makes Black Friday a massively rewarding day but also a very challenging day, both for management and for employees on the front lines.
Keep these three tips in mind to not simply survive the day, but to thrive within this important retail season:
Reference other special periods
To avoid unnecessary call-in practices while ensuring proper coverage, leverage prior year and year-over-year trends during special periods like holidays. In addition, the levels of forecasting improvement and the actual service level commitments should also be applied specific to the holiday season. This will ensure proper coverage for expected levels of demand and work.
Maximize efficiency with technology
When you have zillions of customers in a day, you have to move quickly to serve all of them. High-tech solutions, such as mobile point of sale apps for processing quick payments, self-service for employees and customers, and logistical integration for Omni channel support from store will be hugely beneficial. Even if they seem costly, they are well worth the investment.
Use a top-notch tool for human capital management (HCM)
Your employees are the face of your company and the key to happy customers and big sales. So, when it comes to managing your employees, look for a solution that is employee-friendly while offering you the powerful analytics you need to efficiently make good decisions. Use a tool like Dayforce HCM to optimize employee scheduling based on customer demand and to make sure you’re keeping compliant with meal break requirements and other work rules. Solutions with mobile apps that allow employees to easily see and manage their schedules will also go a long way to engaging your workforce through the hectic holiday season and beyond.
John Orr is the SVP of Retail at Ceridian. Follow him on Twitter at @John_Orr.