How can retailers help frontline employees recharge?

Discussion
Aug 30, 2021

Last week, Nike closed offices worldwide to let employees “enjoy additional time off to rest and recover” following a year-and-of-half of challenges.

In a LinkedIn post, Matt Marrazzo, Nike’s senior manager of global marketing science, wrote, “This past year has been rough — we’re all human! and living through a traumatic event! — but I’m hopeful that the empathy and grace we continue to show our teammates will have a positive impact on the culture of work moving forward.”

A survey of human resources executives by Challenger, Gray & Christmas taken in March showed 51 percent making an extra effort to address mental health issues due to the pandemic.

Responses to the Nike LinkedIn post were overwhelmingly positive, although a few lamented that the perk only applied to corporate employees.

Closing stores and/or distribution centers, of course, shuts off commerce. Bojangles will face such a challenge when it closes its restaurants on two upcoming Mondays to give its staff a “well-deserved break.” Workers will not be paid for the time off, however.

A Bojangles spokesperson told the Associated Press that they would offer workers additional hours but inferred the days off would be welcome as many have been working overtime in the tight labor market. Bojangles CEO Jose Armario said in a statement, “This hasn’t been easy, and we know many people are physically and emotionally drained, so we hope these extra two days off will provide rest and refreshment.”

The most common ways to “recognize” store and warehouse staff have been pay hikes and special bonuses. Target recently handed out its sixth “thank you” bonus since the pandemic began.

In a Walmart blog entry, “7 Ways Walmart Associates Can Prioritize Their Well-Being,” associates were urged to take advantage of its PTO (paid-time off) plan that’s based on time served. The retailer also made free counseling, webinars and sleep and meditation tools, discounted gym memberships and anonymous support chat rooms available. 

In a press release recruiting holiday help, Lululemon said its mental health and health benefits includes “mental health first aid training, psychology benefits, an employee assistance program, and paid time off to promote wellbeing.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are higher pay and bonuses the optimal ways to recognize and de-stress hourly store and warehouse workers? What are the best non-monetary ways to rejuvenate front-line staff?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Daycare services, upskilling, and work-life balance are just some of the things that retail shop floor and corporate staff are in dire need of. "
"It’s time to give the workforce some feeling of job satisfaction beyond “Well, you’re lucky to have a job.”"
"I think there’s a lot more coming and higher compensation doesn’t necessarily fix this."

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8 Comments on "How can retailers help frontline employees recharge?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

High pay and bonuses are compensation for stress, they do not eliminate or negate the effects of it. While some stress in a job is to be expected, creating a positive work environment with good communication, great leadership and a real sense of teamwork makes a big difference. As for frontline workers, it is largely impractical to give everyone extra time off at the same time, but the benefit could be staggered so everyone receives it and feels good about it!

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

If lack of money was not the cause of stress before, it will not be the cure now. Employee start-of-shift motivational activities and time off will help to de-stress the front-line and even corporate-office associates. Higher wages and bonuses won’t hurt.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

I read a quote last week: A retail salesperson was asked what their biggest pet peeve was working in the store. The answer? When customers come in the store. I guess that store is pushing for customers to use the internet or something else. In either case, I suspect something is really wrong in this store. That aside, staff members need a feeling of sweat equity partnership within the stores. They need to have questions directed to them on how to better do X and see their input put to work, creating a sense of ownership. And recognition whenever they do something that helps the store must be given. It’s not hard, but management must set a daily priority to talk with their people on the floor.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

Higher pay, bonuses, time-off are a great way to energize staff but retailers need to listen to what staff actually need. In order to retain and acquire retail workers, retailers need to do more.

Daycare services, upskilling, and work-life balance are just some of the things that retail shop floor and corporate staff are in dire need of.

Better understanding the shifts in retail in terms of investment and technologies, finances, reading quarterly reports — empowering staff with information and knowledge is how retailers can get staff to be more invested in the running of the business.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

As a society, over the past 18 months, we have experienced unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, which have had a significant impact on our lives. The retail frontline associates have been challenged to continue to serve customers, despite the inherent dangers and consequences of working in a crowded public space.

While health, wellness, and emotional well-being initiatives have not been at the forefront of retailer’s store operations strategies, we should expect that companies will now acknowledge the significance of these crucial programs. Additional compensation and incentivization packages are nice and, of course, helpful during uncertain times. However recognizing the importance of health, wellness, and emotional stability should be at the forefront of any retailer’s store operations strategies.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

Yes, better pay and PTO will help the problem, but the entire hourly workforce HR process needs revamping. From recruitment, through hiring, training, career pathing and retention plans, the industry needs to take a fresh look at what it does.

We have a model that was built on a transient, often part-time workforce that doesn’t get too many fringe benefits and have turnover in some segments of well over 100 oercent. That just doesn’t work anymore. It’s time to give the workforce some feeling of job satisfaction beyond “Well, you’re lucky to have a job.”

This is not a small ask. How we get from where we are to where we need to go is going to take some serious thought and reallocation of funds in the retail enterprise.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

I am sorry that I am late to the discussion. Must have been too stressed out from work.

The first key to dealing with store-level employees is to let them know you actually care about them. How do you do that? By:

1. Treat them as individuals by having one on one meetings.

2. Give them a chance to voice concerns and suggestions to improve the environment.

3. Ask questions and find out what they feel would be the best way to help them handle the stress.

4. Give your managers more control over the store environment.

David Spear
BrainTrust

We’re just seeing the front edge of the overall impact of mental health caused by the pandemic. I think there’s a lot more coming and higher compensation doesn’t necessarily fix this. Companies can find partners who can offer assistance in a variety of ways that can help reduce stress, create a better balance and offer valuable skill set training. Of these, I believe investing in up-skilling delivers the biggest benefits to employees, employers and customers.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Daycare services, upskilling, and work-life balance are just some of the things that retail shop floor and corporate staff are in dire need of. "
"It’s time to give the workforce some feeling of job satisfaction beyond “Well, you’re lucky to have a job.”"
"I think there’s a lot more coming and higher compensation doesn’t necessarily fix this."

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