Last week, more than 200 executives from over 100 retailers attended the 13th Kronos Retail and Hospitality Executive Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Kronos holds these summits twice per year, once at KronosWorks in the fall and again in the spring.
The spring event is hosted by a retail client, and this spring’s host was URBN, the parent company to Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN and Terrain. This agenda followed the Kronos proven formula: a keynote delivered by an industry thought leader, a current trend or topic impacting retail workforce management, a retail-specific product update, and lots (and I mean, a whole bunch) of networking.
Until recently, these summits have flown under the radar but over the last couple of events, Kronos began using the Twitter hashtag #RHExecSummit to promote the events’ content. So, it seems about time that I join them on the social media bandwagon, and begin blogging about the event.
With that in mind, here are my three takeaways from this spring’s Retail and Hospitality Executive Summit:
1. Employee Engagement
The theme of this spring’s summit was “Employee Engagement” and Kevin Kruse, author of Employee Engagement 2.0, provided the keynote. Unlike a lot of employee engagement discussions where the benefits are obvious, and the method of achieving engagement is less clear, Kruse said that leaders can improve employee engagement through their actions.
According to Kruse, leaders need to focus on three things to build engagement. They need to provide employees with a path for growth. They need to give employees recognition. And, they need to build trust with their employees. Kruse used a number of case studies to illustrate his point.
The most compelling case study focused on Doug Conant who took over as CEO of Campbell Soup in 2001 as the company was dropping in value and losing market share. At the time, employee engagement was incredibly low and Conant believed that if they could improve employee engagement, they could turn the company around. Over the next 10 years, he did just that, raising employee engagement to best-in-class levels.
2. Scheduling Fairness
Last year’s New York Time article featuring Starbucks Barista Jannette Navarro put a name and face to a growing frustration among the retail and hospitality industry. The article foreshadowed new scrutiny on retail scheduling practices that has played out by the New York Attorney General’s investigation of on call practices, the San Francisco Retail Worker’s Bill of Rights, and numerous articles that describe how unfair retail schedules are for workers.
It was with that back drop that Charlie DeWitt, a big thinker on retail industry topics at Kronos, spoke about scheduling fairness and what it really means for retailers. DeWitt distilled the discussion around scheduling fairness into a few key points that centered on adequacy of hours, schedule predictability and schedule stability. He then demonstrated a dashboard that Kronos has prototyped using their Workforce Analytics module that gives retailers near real-time visibility into key metrics needed to assess how equitable schedules are to employees.
3. Kronos 8 Release
Kronos Vice President of Product Management Bill Bartow announced that Kronos 8 was released to manufacturing and would be available the week of May 26, 2015. New features include new enterprise archive capabilities, improved historical corrections, current week forecasting, and lots of new analytics content.
While there is a lot of new functionality in Kronos 8, it is the removal of Java that has customers most excited. Kronos is now rendering almost all of its end-user facing UI with HTML5 making administration much easier. But, Kronos did more than port screens. Screens were redesigned to improve both the usability and responsiveness of the user experience.
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The next Kronos Retail and Hospitality Executive Summit will be held at KronosWorks in November.