Last-minute no-shows may be out of retailers' control, but smart technology can resolve staffing and people management issues.

For retailers, people management plays a significant role in their daily operations, customer experience and sales.

In-store employees are the first touchpoint for shoppers and interactions with them can make or break the customer experience.

So what happens when a store associate unexpectedly calls in sick or just doesn’t show up for a scheduled shift?

“Retailers are understaffed 25% of the time due to last-minute absenteeism”

It’s more than just a scheduling change.

Managers need to be contacted and colleagues need to make themselves available for an unplanned shift.

It can take hours to figure out how to get someone into the store quickly and efficiently, so that customers don’t feel the pain.

The data backs it up: according to The Global Retail Absence Survey, conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos, retailers are understaffed 25% of the time due to last-minute absenteeism.

Furthermore, for every 10 hours of in-store labour budgeted, more than one hour is wasted due to staffing misalignment caused by unplanned employee absence.

Is this a doom-and-gloom situation that can’t be resolved? I don’t think it’s that grave.

We live in a world where technology reigns supreme, making our lives easier, more convenient and more productive.

Here are two ways technology can resolve some of the most common staffing and people management issues faced by retailers:

Shorten the delay in scheduling alternative staff

If your employees are all using a single platform to communicate with each other, their managers and the head office, messages can be sent with greater speed to the people who matter – rather than mass-spamming the entire workforce.

So if it’s just store associates at one specific store in one particular city being contacted, then those employees can quickly confirm if they are free to come in when a fellow colleague calls in sick or doesn’t show up at the last minute.

Keep managers and head office in the loop 

Often, the head office isn’t aware of the people management and scheduling issues that may be occurring on their shop floors.

The normal way of informing head office of such issues is via email, but it can be easy for an email to get lost in the clutter and not be read at all.

If your head office is using the same communications platform as store managers and associates, then you’re all reading the same messages together.

People are the lifeline for retailers and seemingly little things, such as unplanned absences, can hurt business in the long-term, leading to less productivity overall.

Guy Chiswick is managing director for UK and Ireland at Speakap

Guy Chiswick, UK & Ireland managing director at Speakap

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