There’s a massive shift in the way that organizations communicate with its employees: the conversation is now two-way, dynamic, and can even be facilitated beyond the physical workplace.
Each year, the global consultancy and professional services firm Deloitte publishes its Global Human Capital Trends report - a look at the key issues facing business leaders when it comes to managing employees and the working environment.
According to the report - based on a survey of more than 11,000 business and HR leaders - online collaboration platforms and work-based social media will be at the forefront of workplace communication and collaboration over the next five years.
And it easily makes sense; as the younger generations (aka the 'millennials') of developed countries move into the workforce, the ways in which they communicate have joined along with them. You may not know (or care) if you should ditch your Snapchat account in favor for Insta-stories, or if it’s called a “tweet” or a “twit”... but we bet that your sales assistant Sally does. And there are many benefits to engaging with these millennial employees; in five years time Sally could potentially be your store manager, or perhaps move into an operational role at head office.
Source: Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, 2018
The other thing about Sally is, like most of us, she believes that the future of retailers will be dominated by the digital and online world. While it’s true that online retailers certainly come out on top in terms of customer convenience, it’s important to remember the one thing that will never change - the customer will always be human. As humans, we crave social interaction and experiential experiences, which can only be provided in-store. And interestingly enough, the data actually proves that consumers will spend more when retailers are able to provide an outstanding in-store customer experience.
Therefore, the key to ensuring longevity of your physical retail locations is to engage your employees to improve on the in-store experience provided to your customers. And who will be providing that experience? You guessed right, it's going to be our millennial Sally!
How to engage with millennial employees
If you want not only Sally, but the rest of your staff, to deliver exceptional in-store experience then there are three things you should be focusing on to engage your millennial workforce;
1. Empower employees to become brand experts
As an employer, you’re responsible for providing your staff with the right tools in order to complete their job function well. And if you provide your employees with better tools, you’re enabling them to provide a better customer experience. If an employee has the right tools and knowledge to easily answer a customer query - for example, the availability of stock in another store or more information on a product - they will be raised to “expert” status in the eyes of your customers.
2. Build effective employer/employee relationships
Employee engagement is so important for building a stronger relationship - it’s the key pillar in transforming your staff into brand experts that are truly engaged with your business. And the difference between having engaged employees that will advocate your brand, as opposed to non-engaged employees with facial expressions that practically scream “get me out of this place!”, is absolutely vital in the cut-throat world of retail.
Like most millennials, Sally also loves memes.
3. Give them a platform to be heard
It’s important to remember that your employees are the voice of the brand to your customers, as well as the voice of your customers to your brand. So listening to your staff is just as important as talking down to them, and perhaps even more. The magic will happen when your staff feels both properly informed and connected to the wider business.
So, what do I do next? Create an open group chat for my business?
Easy there, tiger. At the end of the day you’re still running a business, not a college-run “vegan collective”. The opportunity for your organization to be at the forefront of this shift in behavior is to take the reins in terms the platform your employees are using to both collaborate and communicate. And a platform that mimics the social behavior that your millennial staff is already using, and also used to, is when your internal comms will reach them most effectively.
Maybe those crazy kids are onto something with all those Twits and their Snapchat's?!
By providing your employees with an enterprise social network that allows them to easily connect with the rest of the company, you’re not only ensuring that you’re GDPR-compliant, but also empowering your employees to work autonomously and provide an outstanding experience to all of your customers. And by choosing a dynamic platform that can adapt to the changes we will see in social media over the next five years, you’ll be future-proofing your business in order to meet the requirements of your workforce.
Ultimately, it’s all about adjusting your communication style and leveraging technology to promote employee engagement. And as they say: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em! #truth
Written by Louise Blair
All the way from "down under" Louise has joined Speakap to help businesses to build better relationships with their workforce. When she's not busy producing the Frontline podcast, you might catch her running... while listening to a podcast.