As NRF 2018 fades from view, I am once again impressed with the continued evolution of employee engagement software and the buzz it’s getting with retailers.
To be fair, “employee engagement” is too narrow of a term to describe the growing collection of solutions available to retailers. Generally, these solutions are all mobile-first, employee-centric tools designed to provide a better employee experience for a retailer’s hourly associates. The depth and breadth of the tools vary from vendor to vendor.
There are those vendors like Shift Messenger that provide a simple communication and shift swapping tool. While these schedule management solutions are not sophisticated, they are intended to be implemented and adopted quickly.
Then, there are tools like Nudge, actively positioned as an employee engagement solution offering communications, performance management, and training. Cambeo is similar, but provides a broader set of tools that includes task management, surveys and analytics. Interestingly, neither tool offers schedule management.
Finally, there are solutions like Shyft and WorkJam that are evolving to be something different. WorkJam has found its stride as a digital workplace platform for the hourly workforce, providing a broad range of employee-centric capabilities via a consumer-grade user experience. Shyft, on the other hand, seems to be moving towards a full-featured, mobile-first WFM solution.
Retailers were looking for proof points about what organizations are using these solutions, how they are being used and how effective they are. Today, there are many more projects around this technology. For example, I participated on a panel with Macy’s and Target Australia to discuss how these retailers and others are using WorkJam in their stores right now. Among other topics, we touched on the challenges in hourly engagement, experiential learning, transformative communication and internal crowdsourcing of labor. You can watch the session here.
From a workforce management perspective, while there were no major announcements at NRF 2018 (see why this event tends to be low-key from a WFM standpoint in my blog from last year’s NRF) we did see some interesting developments from the leading vendors. Here’s what we learned:
Kronos continued to highlight the release of its new centralized WFM platform – Workforce Dimensions – announcing that specialty chain retailer Brookstone recently signed on to implement the solution across all stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Kronos has also released v8.1 of its Workforce Central product, showing continued investment in this solution.
Infor’s latest release of Infor Workforce Management, includes streamlined open shift management through a Shift Billboard feature. Through the schedule, store managers can now send open shifts to a billboard where qualified and available employees can view and pick them up via their mobile phones. It is workflow driven to meet business rules and makes it easier for managers to find a shift replacement.
JDA Software announced enhancements to its SaaS Store Optimizer solution that allows retailers to track inventory accurately, so they always know where items are located and how many are in stock while, at the same time, updating store associates’ tasks. The JDA Store Optimizer then uses this precise inventory data to automatically identify, prioritize and assign tasks that sales associates need to carry out.
StoreForce Solutions is continuing to focus on delivering StoreForce, its sales performance platform, underpinned by a specialty retail WFM system, called WFM+. WFM+ is focused on driving positive sales growth and better customer experience. This is a foundational shift from the way traditional WFM vendors approach labor planning in specialty retail. WFM+ not only optimizes labor spend to opportunity, it continually assesses associate sales performance and puts a retailer’s best performers on at the peak times.
Workforce Software continues to rollout integration of its WorkForce Suite for Retail time and attendance and scheduling solution. Additions to the latest release include a fully customizable report design-and-creation module to give retailers better visibility around workforce scheduling operations and expanded mobile capabilities for shift swapping.
Ceridian is continuing to make headway with leading retailers announcing that hundreds of brands like DSW, 99 Cents Only Stores and David’s Bridal are leveraging the Dayforce HCM platform to automate their human capital and workforce management processes.