Seismic Shift – Waking Up to the Strategic Value of Workforce Management

mall shopperToday’s guest post is by our board member,  Mark Wales.  Mark is an expert in workforce management for the retail industry.  Here he shares his perspective on how retailers and services providers are looking to their workforce as a strategic asset and not just an expense to be minimized.

Recently at an International Workforce Management Summit I witnessed the seismic shift in how workforce management is perceived and how it has grown in strategic importance to retailers and service providers. Ten years ago it was IT and HR who attended these events, now it was exclusively Operations. Why the dramatic change and what does it mean for the workforce?

The reason for the change is the rising strategic value of employees. While many retailers and service providers may see labor as the largest controllable cost, many have turned the corner and realized that their brand, their business model, and their profitability depend on how wisely they invest in their employees.

It is essential to pay your employees in a timely and accurate manner with appropriate controls and visibility. That, however, is not enough. It does not maximize the full potential of your employees, your customers, or your profitability. You will fail to recognize the value of many facets of employee experience, customer experience and productivity. To raise the strategic importance of workforce management you must draw a direct link between investing in the employee, impacting the customer experience and driving profitability.

Forward thinking retailers and service providers are building a new generation Operations discipline.  They envision a holistic multidisciplinary approach to workforce management that is centered on productivity and optimization of both the employee and customer experience. You will see this impacting hiring, training, team management, service design, organizational responsibilities, and decision making. The changes may seem subtle and evolutionary at first, but they have the potential to radically impact company performance over time.

Relevant Links:

New York Times article “Thinking Outside the (Big) Box”

Good Jobs Strategy = Happier Employees = Better Customer Service

How do retailers make you stop shopping?

 Kronos white papers on workforce management for retail


5 thoughts on “Seismic Shift – Waking Up to the Strategic Value of Workforce Management

  1. There has been an interesting progression of interest from the War for Talent days where McKinseywas mainly talking about the top 100 leaders in large firms, to a broader sense of the strategic importance of white collar talent and now it appears you’re seeing orgs are paying more serious attention to the workforce.

    Next stop: paying attention to contracters/contingent workers

  2. David – you are entirely correct. Smart companies are targeting their good seasonal college workers and finding ways to bring them back. It’s about how you treat your regular workers and your seasonals. They all impact the customer experience and those interactions dictate success for the brand.

  3. Part of the shift is because technology now enables corporate executives to access data that results in better and more strategic decision making. They can manipulate more variables and consider more options — and if you have operating reonsibility, it can make the difference between a good outcome and a great one.

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