The speed of change has never been so great in food retail as it is today, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Policies and procedures have needed to shift at a moment’s notice, and management is counting on associates to implement many of these changes.
- Employee engagement is the answer to making associates feel safe at work, and ready to adapt quickly to new processes.
- An app in a much more intuitive format, closer to what employees use outside of work, can help with adoption.
- Greater communication between upper-level management and hourly employees can have a positive impact on worker confidence.
Employees are seeing new sanitation protocols, occupancy counting, social-distancing signage, mask requirements, item limits and a whole list of tasks to be done, but communication can be one of the greatest hurdles to execution.
There’s no time to send down PDFs from the top of the organization, and binders of data are outdated almost as soon as the pages come off the printer.
Personal situations are also changing at record speeds. Although many grocers are aggressively hiring more than firing, employees’ spouses or family members may have lost their jobs or become sick, making associates’ paychecks that much more crucial.
Employee engagement is the answer to making associates feel safe coming into work, and ready to adapt while on the job in a timely and complete manner.
“You’re at your job for most of the day, and we believe that true engagement comes from knowing that you have the ability to make change within an organization, and you see how your actions are supporting the greater good of what the company’s trying to do,” says Melissa Wong, CEO of San Francisco-based Retail Zipline. “Associate engagement is actually key to execution.”
A number of technology solutions focused on communication have gained traction during this crucial time, making employees’ jobs easier, keeping morale high and having a quick return on investment for the companies.
In Workers’ Hands
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Most employees are comfortable with smartphones in this day and age, so having an app in a much more intuitive format, closer to what they use in their daily lives outside of work, can help with adoption.
“If you make people’s lives easier, you’re definitely driving the self adoption into the technology,” Wong affirms. Retail Zipline has seen first-week adoption at typically around 90%.
To encourage adoption at Hy-Vee, Retail Zipline is donating a dollar, up to $25,000, to local food banks for every associate who logs in. Hy-Vee is also matching these donations.
“I really believe that stores have the opportunity to be the best manifestation of the brand and such a focal point in the community,” Wong says. “We wanted to make an individual store person feel like they can make an impact on giving to the community, even if they couldn’t actually donate themselves.”
From an employer standpoint, DailyPay integrates with all HR/HCM/payroll systems, the employer isn’t charged for offering the service to its employees, and DailyPay has raised a line of credit to support the early-access dollar amounts, so the company doesn’t have to change anything about how it processes payroll.
Employees can download a user-friendly app to access their earned wages — less any taxes or deductions, voluntary or mandatory — at any time. There’s also a saving feature if employees want to hide money from themselves. Fees for accessing the funds can range anywhere between $2.99 and $3.49, depending on same-day or next-day delivery, or their company.
“What we’ve seen is some companies will actually cover that cost for their employee, or they’ll subsidize it,” Mullen observes. “With Kroger, next-day access to their money is free, forever. For everybody outside of Kroger, which their next-day hasn’t been free, we’ve actually waived it during the pandemic, because we want people to have their money.”
In response, WorkJam almost immediately rolled out a health check module that’s highly specific to the pandemic. Many of its customers have made this survey mandatory before employees start a shift, having them answer basic health questions such as: Are you sick? Do you feel comfortable coming to work? Have you been around anyone sick? Do you feel safe?