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Workforce management moves with the times

Workforce management moves with the times
Monday February 18 2013

Human resource (HR) payroll operations serve as a timely reminder for most retailers – being one of their biggest monthly bills – that their staff are their most important asset

Amid ongoing economic austerity, the deals and projects highlighted here in the annual Retail Technology workforce management (WFM) feature suggest retailers are continuing to find room for improvement.

Christian Berenger, business development director at UK workforce management and customer challenge identification systems provider Auto Time Solutions, told Retail Technology: “At a time when the retail industry is finding trading conditions particularly tough, retailers will soon realise that the latest time and attendance systems offer a rapid return of investment and can help to increase profit margins,” he said. 

Payroll integration efficiencies

The effective management and training of staff in retail head offices, stores, warehouses and call centres can help accurately match staffing and service levels to business and customer requirements. The integration of HR, WFM, labour scheduling and time and attendance (T&A) systems with retail and supply chain systems also a role to play in optimising operations and putting meaningful information into the hands of the right staff at the right time to support better decision-making processes, as Tesco is doing with its roll out of Office 365 productivity and collaboration software (read an interview with Tesco’s chief information about the deployment on p17).

“A retailer’s ability to manage complex and changing variables to create accurate staff rosters not only has an effect on staffing levels but has a much wider impact,” added Berenger. “If workers understand that their individual preferences are taken into account and can manage their working hours to meet their individual circumstances, this will lead to employee satisfaction and retention, which will filter through to improved customer service levels.”

Andrew Busby, retail account director at Kronos, said recent retail trends around social media, big data and mobile were not only effecting retailers at the front of the store, but in the back office, in terms of how they manage their staff too. “These are not just customer, but also employee expectations,” he said. “Retailers are looking at these areas of technology-enabled development to get better levels of employee engagement.”

Mobilising workforce systems

Tim Bisley, general manager of WFM provider Kronos in Europe, Middle East and Africa, added that growing adoption of mobile communications technologies had made WFM systems more accessible to field workers, like regional managers when they are out on the road. “Handhelds have been around for while, but now WFM suppliers need to take advantage of it and put real-time data in the hands of the people that use it: the managers out on the shop floor,” he said, flagging his company’s first tablet software release.

Barney Quinn, chief executive for online WFM provider Workplace, concluded: “As long as retailers continue to be challenged on both sales and costs, WFM will help with the variable that is labour. Bigger retailers may be looking at clienteling and employee engagement. But they all need to optimise labour spend.”

This story first ran as the introduction to the 'Workforce Management' feature of the January/February 2013 issue of Retail Technology magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition or register for the free e-version. 

Tagged as: Retail Technology magazine | January/February 2013 | HR | staff | Workforce management | WFM | Auto Time Solutions | Kronos | Workplace