The Current State of Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is a hot topic right now. With labor costs up by double digits and forecourt and backcourt margins remaining relatively flat, attracting, retaining, and optimizing the output of the workforce remains a leading issue for Fuel Retail and Convenience Store executives.
Glenn Plumby, Senior Vice President Operations, Speedway, was interviewed on NACS Convenience Matters podcast on June 19, 2017, where he mentioned, “[The] hidden cost behind labor is the turnover cost. That is a very expensive issue.”1 Plumby went on to say that “Training has been our number one focus,” and that employees need to understand “the Speedway way to do things, to understand exactly what it takes to fulfill the customer’s needs.”
The NACS and Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council published a report in 2016, presented by Dr. Blake Frank, PhD2, where Frank stated that, “The turnover rate with highly engaged employees is much lower than that of non-engaged employees, and it is not unusual to find 30-50 percentage point differences in turnover between engaged and non-engaged employees.”
“Studies show that employee engagement is positively related to annual revenue, year over year improvement in operating income, return on assets, profitability, shareholder value, and diluted earnings per share.” Frank continued. “These findings are very strong and consistent, involving thousands of companies, diverse job levels, and millions of employees.” One study covering 192 firms found that high engagement firms were 22% more profitable than low engagement firms.
According to Convenience Store News 2016 HR & Labor Study, the turnover rate for store associates in the convenience store industry stands around 54%, with many reporting this number increased over the previous year.3
The Right Medium to Engage the Most Desired Employee: Millennials
According to NACS, the most current Bureau of Labor Statistics projections show that the number of 16- to 24-year-olds in the workforce will decline by more than 13% between 2014 and 2024.4 And, the best way to attract workers today is to better understand them. Better understanding leads to more success with recruiting, engaging, motivating, and retaining workers.
When communicating with millennials, the most desired employee for Fuel Retailers and Convenience Stores, it is important to understand generational differences. Unique traits in millennials have been shaped by formative life experiences, which have created both psychological and sociological distinctions. Millennials, for example, are the first generation of digital natives. Millennials are more comfortable engaging on their phones, in apps, and via text messaging, than they are engaging in traditional classroom settings, or watching stale training videos on a TV, or filling out paperwork by hand.
This cultural, generational difference is a particular challenge for Fuel Retailers and Convenience Stores which have entire company-wide training programs designed and operationalized for the generation that came just before millennials.
We believe that in order to attract, train, engage, and retain the millennial workforce, a mobile-first approach is required.
How to Engage on Mobile
What can be done to decrease employee turnover and increase employee engagement? We have several recommendations for pragmatic mobile programs that work for millennials and all generations of your workforce.
- #1: Get Peer Advice
- Allow employees to ask questions and seek guidance from other employees, whether associate to associate, manager to manager, top down or bottom up. Employees want a way to get their issues resolved fast.
- #2: Roll Up Input from the Front Lines
- Provide front-line employees with a fast and easy way to run their ideas up the chain. Further, to make front-line input part of culture and operations, require it from employees. It’s part of the job.
- #3: Systematize Socialization
- Millennials are especially social. If they don’t feel like they’ve found a community and established emotional bonds with those around them, they won’t stay. Create a program that systematically socializes employees with one another in a safe, friendly environment where people are encouraged to form personal bonds.
- #4: Measure Engagement and Employee Satisfaction
- Once an employee is in your mobile engagement program, their level of engagement and commitment to the program can be easily measured. Automatically provide positive reinforcement for employees who are not engaged. Provide praise and encouragement for employees who are engaged. Identify employees who just cannot and will not become engaged and resolve the issue before it creates more losses for your business.
- #5: Make Resourcing Social
- Allow employees to see their shifts, see the shifts of other employees, request certain shifts, or trade shifts with one another. Resourcing is one of the most unloved part of the job. It doesn’t have to be that way. Make it fun and engaging.
- #6: Increase Productivity
- Turn your processes into checklists that employees can easily follow and “check off” as they work. Your managers will be able to track what’s been done and you’ll gather valuable data on the output of your workforce over time.
- #7: Reward and Recognize
- Identify those rock star employees. Recognize them for their accomplishments, reward them for stellar performance and do it publicly. This will create an environment the re-enforces the kind of self-motivation and behavior you want in your workforce.
- #8: Increase Brand Equity
- Train employees to be advocates and ambassadors for your brand. They’ll be better equipped to deal with your customers. Your customers will have better experiences with your brand and your revenues and profits will be the proof.
Employee engagement is more crucial to success today than ever. Millennials are key to that success and cracking the generational code is not insurmountable. Mobile is an effective medium for engaging millennials on their terms and driving the business outcomes you need.
To learn more about Stuzo’s employee engagement solutions, a pat of Stuzo’s Open Commerce PlatformSM, click here.
- Miracles by Speedway
- How does Employee Engagement Improve Business Results, by Professor of Business Management at the University of Dallas and former Head of Employee Research at a large convenience retailer
- C-Stores Tackle Turnover Through Employee Engagement
- NACS Magazine, A Generational Lens, August 2017