January 12.2018, 10.31pm
Retail Rostering and Netflix’s Bright – what do they have in common?
The controversy over the poor reviews of Netflix first big budget movie “Bright”, should send shockwaves up the spine of every leader in the retail space.
How does a movie provided by an online streaming service matter at all to retail, or indeed to HR?
Consider that as you read this, that whether or not you are a Netflix subscriber, it’s possible you’ve experienced or consumed at least one piece of news concerning the film “Bright”.
Press feedback and consumer reviews have been questionable at best for this new movie. However, the most recent headline to hit the news, is that Netflix has given the green light to a sequel to the film – a sequel which is set to burn their pockets to the value of 100 million USD. An incredible investment to make for a film that has been much maligned by critics across the globe.
Forbes went to far as to publish “Congratulations, Netflix! You can make a visually grotesque, dreadfully dull and hopelessly convoluted would-be franchise action movie just as well as the stereotypical Hollywood machine!” Scathing words at best!
How did a movie which critics and customers alike have negatively reviewed in such volume come to have such a level of investment – and how is this related to retail rostering?
The goal for studios is simple – produce films that have a built-in audience to lower the risk of investment, while at the very same time increasing global box office receipts and licensing revenue. This strategy is very dependent upon the pre-buzz and critical reviews of the cinematic universe films. We’ve all been swept along with the “hype” wave. Bad reviews and bad performance of just one entry put the entire franchise at risk, if it flops at the Box Office.
Netflix doesn’t have this problem to deal with at all; their ease of access, their subscription fees and their reputation precedes them. They most certainly care about viewership, but they care much more about subscriber growth and subscriber retention. Whether or not critics like the film is almost completely inconsequential. In fact, negative reviews like those that Bright received may be good news for Netflix. Any buzz is going to drive viewership, even negative buzz.
For consumers, there is absolutely no risk or incremental cost to make their own decision on a Netflix entry, they are already paying for the streaming service. The have invested in that product. If these same subscribers choose to see a film at the cinema, with their spouse, for instance, they are investing not only the approximate €16 to €20 to see the film; they are leaving their home and probably spending more on concessions.
Why does it matter to retail at all? Quite simply, because this is the new competitive landscape for retail overall.
Film and retail – what’s the connection?
In this case, we’re equating “retail” to “film”, but consider just about every other basic retail a consumer takes – ever retail transaction from banking to dining. The consumer has options, choices, and is more discerning about what they get for their money and the value they receive. If a retail transaction is easier, perceptively cheaper, more convenient for them and delivers a reasonable experience, a consumer will opt for that type of transaction first.
In this new competitive landscape – this user friendly, value for money, ease of access environment – it grows increasingly more difficult for a retail outlet to compete on accessibility, convenience, and speed. This leaves the consumer experience as perhaps the last most impacting element of the retail transaction that can be controlled.
In other words retail is going to have to compete at the experience level because if they can deliver an unmatched, unrivaled, enjoyable experience, consumers will feel as though their money was spent not on just the product at hand (film in our example) but the entire consumer experience.
What impacts the retail experience more than anything else? Well, it isn’t a what at all it is a who. The people that are required to deliver a top-notch customer experience are going to become much more critical for the survival in the retail space. Absolutely everyone from those managing the floor, the visual merchandise, to those that keep the space clean and tidy, all become difference makers.
Managers and leaders in the retail industry know that the customer is king and success is ultimately driven by creating the best customer experience possible. But they also know that there are myriad factors that go into delivering a world-class customer experience, each one of crucial importance – and each one coming with their own list of challenges and frustrations.
Treat employees as customers
Marketers use customer experience as a metric for a good reason. It tells them what a customer wants and helps them to introduce strategies that will attract and retain customers.
It makes sense for HR to apply similar tactics to gauge the employee experience in their organisation, to look for positive or negative patterns, and to make improvements where they can.
Unhappy workers are unproductive so an engaged workforce is a business priority.
A customer-centric approach to HR requires you to manage your employees’ interactions within the organisation to ensure employee satisfaction.
Focus on the bigger picture
Employees increasingly expect organisations to provide a seamless employee experience from hiring to retiring. The intensive efforts that go into interviews, onboarding, orientation and training can no longer be allowed to fizzle out once an employee becomes an established member of the team.
If anything, it becomes more important to support an employee once they establish themselves as an important asset.
Your workforce is your greatest brand asset so ensuring that they’re happy, engaged and content at all stages of the employee lifecycle is key to your future success.
Workforce analytics has always played an important role in the retail HR environment, but with the breadth and depth of data available nowadays, it’s not being utilised to its full extent. Rostering is one key area that can really benefit from embracing the opportunities offered by predictive analytics.
Predictive analytics allows managers to better forecast future needs and demands in their stores based on historical data. This then allows them to roster more effectively, ensuring enough staff members to cope with busy periods, while eliminating wastage and inefficiencies by not over-rostering during quieter periods.
Most managers are used to rostering for traditional periods such as Christmas season and summer holidays, but predictive analytics can take this to the next level. By integrating with sales data from a till system, your rostering software can generate auto-rosters that are perfectly tailored towards your specific needs and can constantly adapt to fast-changing trends. This has the additional benefit of freeing up managers’ time and allowing them to focus their efforts on more value-adding tasks.
Bring employees into the process
Too often, employees are overlooked in the roster creation process. Of course, allowing employees too much input when creating rosters can make an already difficult process a complete nightmare. But there is a balance to be struck, and you should endeavor to make employee input a key part of the rostering process.
When employees feel they have no say whatsoever they may become resentful and it can affect motivation. Whereas allowing them to have their say can increase engagement and motivation among employees, which has a range of positive outcomes for the organisation. Engaged employees are more likely to stay longer with a company, while they’re also 22% more profitable and 21% more productive.
Mobile technology can allow employees select preferred shifts, easily swap shifts amongst each other, check their rosters on the go, all while ensuring the right skills are available on the shop floor at all times and workplace compliance is maintained. Employees are empowered with more control over their work schedules, managers can use their own time more efficiently, and the organisation enjoys the financial benefits of an engaged workforce – it’s a win-win-win!
Build a workplace for the future
Another challenge facing organisations is to adapt to disruptive technologies and to create an environment that will attract digital natives. Using technology to give employees a better work-life balance is one way to improve this experience, whether it is through working remotely or through flexible hours.
Building an experiential workplace also requires a continuous loop of communication and a greater focus on individuals, including their goals and needs. Self-service HR software offers employees the means to give increased feedback and allows them to chart their personal development with ongoing managerial input.
It can empower employees, help them develop better peer relationships and make them feel more invested in an organisation.
How it all ties together
Ultimately, an experiential workplace is about focusing on each person and how they are interacting with both the organisation and the people around them. Experiences have always shaped how we view people and whether we want to spend time with them. Employee experience is no different.
The challenge facing HR is to develop an environment that can offer a positive employee experience, a culture that will support it, and the strategies to provide it for existing and future employees.
Retail managers should pay keen attention to the ongoing development of Netflix’s “Bright”, and also take a look at what Cinema owners are doing to improve the return on consumers entertainment investment. What they are likely to find is that suddenly matters such as employee communication, rostering, and retention are more important than they have ever been before. Make experience count.
By Bruce Walcroft