These tech trends are changing retail HR practices

As a consumer, you’ve probably noticed how tech is creeping into the way we shop every day. Discount codes and sale notifications mysteriously appear in your inbox as soon as you get close to the store (“Well, I’m in the neighborhood anyway…”). Customer service happens at the speed of a Tweet. Automated checkout kiosks keep the line moving. There’s no question that retail is an industry that has embraced the digital. But what about behind the scenes, in the back rooms and offices? Retailers are increasingly relying on high-tech HR solutions for their employees as well.

Paperless hiring

With a high employee turnover rate, retail HR can create a never-ending blizzard of paperwork, as you probably know all too well. Intake forms, training manuals, performance management docs…those add up for a large, and likely ever-changing staff. Putting application systems online (like directing potential hires to a computer kiosk or an online portal to complete the application process) doesn’t just save you money on your file cabinet budget. It can speed up the time to hire, with fewer touchpoints between the candidate’s information and who needs to review it. Putting new employee orientation and training materials online also creates a more efficient pipeline, with information perennially ready to go and accessible.

Keeping applicant metrics all in one place also improves your hiring process, weeding out candidates with weak skills and identifying strong potential applicants by comparing them to an existing pool of data. Automating applicant review (even to a small extent) can also help minimize bias in the hiring process by adding blind review steps.

Digital performance management

Digital performance management programs can consolidate all of that work (and information) in one place–making it more efficient to manage employee data, and also giving you more actionable info in one place. This gives you visibility into the information that can help drive retention, development, and promotion. Having all of an employee’s information in one single profile can mitigate work issues or skill gaps before they become a significant problem, or help identify when an employee is ready to be groomed for the next steps.

Having the process more automated and user-friendly also allows for more checkpoints between employees and management, and gives real-time information about employee engagement, morale, etc. It used to be that performance reviews and two-way feedback were rare in retail, but performance management platforms close that gap and make the communication easier.

Daily employee engagement and feedback

Having a system for clocking employees in and out is hardly novel in retail, but having a digital platform for employees to give feedback about their day, or pass along information for the next shift, is relatively new. Automated scheduling programs (typically used as part of a larger HR software suite) serve the main purpose of tracking employee time and creating schedules, but also expand an employee’s voice. Whether it’s asking employees to verify that something specific was completed before they leave, or leaving an open text field for direct feedback, these programs can collect more nuanced data than “Steve was here for 8 hours.” It gives the back office even more real-time insight into how employees are feeling, what their days are like, and other metrics that can be used to improve employee morale and retention.

Digital tools give HR departments much more leeway in managing employees, and building stronger communication between the sales floor and the corporate life backstage. Integrating systems and software into everyday employee interactions increases efficiency, while also improving employee relations.

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