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7 tactics for driving retail team performance

7 tactics for driving retail team performance

Driving retail team performance isn’t always easy. The ever-changing industry has left retail workers burnt out and disengaged. But even before the pandemic decimated workforces, concerns around retail team engagement were emerging. A benchmark study conducted by the Temkin Group found that the retail sector had the least engaged employees, with 50% being slightly or fully disengaged at work. But with brick and mortar stores becoming less transactional and more experiential, engaging retail employees to drive sales and improve the customer experience is more important than ever. 

The size of the retail industry and workforce is growing, employees are younger, communication is difficult, and disengagement is affecting the performance of retail teams worldwide. This we know. But how can you pull it all together? Yes, increasing engagement and your choice of communication channels are important, but understanding how to harness these options and drive your team’s performance is even more critical to success. Here are a few tactics to help you make this happen:

1. Set goals and establish KPIs

Communicating clear goals to your retail team is a critical step in driving the discretionary effort retailers need. It ensures associates are fully aligned on how their tasks contribute to the organization’s success. Work with your team to establish store-wide or company-wide sales goals. Are you working towards an overall sales target? Or are you focusing on selling a specific product or promotion? Then, establish key performance indicators to measure the success of the specific goals. KPIs could range from measuring customer satisfaction, sales, and gross margin, or sales per square foot.

Goal setting will help to create a sense of focus amongst the retail team. Working towards one common goal will give your store or company initial momentum to having a well-oiled, high functioning retail team.

2. Share, share, share information (then look for gaps!)

Consumers are informed like never before. When you’re mobilizing your team around specific KPIs in retail – whether it be for a product launch, new promo, or other key event – a crucial early step is ensuring your associates are armed with the information they need to really make the launch shine. 

“Customers have access to so much information that they’re often walking into a location with more knowledge than an associate,” explains Nudge COO Jordan Ekers in a recent interview. “We as consumers have all experienced this. That is completely broken and causing a fundamental shift where brands are investing more in their people.”

So how can retailers deliver the information associates need to drive memorable customer experiences? We recommend bite-sized info to avoid info overload. Then use knowledge testing to identify retention rates and cast a light on the gaps that need addressing.

3. Standardize task execution

Effective communication isn’t just about providing context on products and promotions. It’s also about being clear and direct on the tasks and processes associates are expected to complete. We’ve already talked about the importance of clear goals and KPIs, and ensuring your retail team knows exactly how to reach these goals through task execution is a critical component of keeping them aligned on how they can contribute to the overall success of the organization.

Our recommendation? Bake task executions and checklists right into your existing communication channels to keep everything corralled into one place (we can recommend a great one). 

4. Create a sense of challenge

Create a sense of challenge amongst your staff based on the goals and KPIs that you are trying to reach. Then, gamify the challenge to take motivation and performance to the next level. Applying game-design principles to non-game scenarios, such as reaching a sales goal, has the potential of increasing employee engagement by 48%. Try setting up a point system or leaderboard to motivate your team to reach the next goal. You can set up a challenge or contest manually, online, or through a mobile application. It will help to keep company goals in mind and will generate excitement amongst team members!

5. Foster a culture of learning

On-the-job learning should be continuous- even after employees have been onboarded and trained. It’s important to keep your employees updated on new products, promotions, and company-wide goals. Educating customer-facing employees is a key component to improving the overall customer experience.

That also might mean reinforcing tasks on an ongoing basis. The repeated recall of information can improve knowledge retention by up to 80 percent, so reiterating SOPs, tasks, and goals during huddles or through microlearning is a great way to ensure your staff is prepared. After all, a highly educated employee is an employee that will perform well. Organizations with a strong learning culture have proven to be 52% more productive and 17% more profitable than their peers.

6. Establish a continuous feedback loop

Make communication between head office and frontline employees a business priority. Provide a space for two-way communication, where employees can give feedback and get responses, whether it is through your digital communication platform or other feedback channel.

Getting continuous feedback from your retail staff can be beneficial to both parties. Does your frontline have ideas to make your next in-store promotion better? Are there inefficiencies that need addressing? Does the promotional material need clarifying? Asking these questions will help you build stronger relationships and create opportunities for innovation and problem-solving.

7. Retail employee recognition | NudgeCelebrate performance and achievement

The valuation of our work is directly tied to the amount of effort we’ve put in. The harder the project is, the prouder we feel of it, even if it does not generate big results. Try providing prizes, rewards, or even simple recognition to employees from their managers to celebrate positive performance. Acknowledging an employee’s achievements can all go a long way.

After all, according to our research, 40% of retail associates say recognition makes them feel engaged and motivated at work. Recognition is an important psychological need, which means it should be an important piece of your internal business structure.

Driving frontline performance and hitting those KPIs in retail starts with preparation and monitoring your workforce readiness on an ongoing basis. Once you start to hone in on those indicators, you can really start to unlock operational consistency – and retail team success.

15 companies taking employee engagement to the next level

15 companies taking employee engagement to the next level

Looking to retain your staff, increase revenue, and drive memorable customer and guest experiences? While there are many resources and technologies you can invest in that may provide a competitive edge, there is one resource that is infinitely valuable and often overlooked: your employees.

Investing in your employee experience to improve employee engagement can have a huge impact on the business outcomes that make or break frontline industries. For one, Forrester’s Employee Experience Index shows that 94% of the most engaged employees plan to stay with their employers for the next year. As virtually every frontline industry battles ongoing staffing issues, these numbers making investing in employee experience and employee engagement a no-brainer. In fact, according to The Deskless Report, 65% of leaders plan to invest more energy or budget into employee experience in the coming year – which means organizations that don’t start to invest more in employee engagement will quickly lag behind.

Have we convinced you to take a look at your frontline employee engagement tactics? Let’s start with a little inspiration: here are great examples of deskless and frontline companies with high employee engagement who are reaping the benefits of engagement, team performance, and customer satisfaction.

1. Arby’s

Arby’s is a company known for having great employee engagement and satisfaction. Even in tough situations, Arby’s looks to its employees for help. During a troubling time for Arby’s, CEO, Paul Brown, turned to his teams working in restaurants to find out what they would do to save the company.

By doing so, Arby’s gained a better understanding and perspective on the frontline experience and empowered their employees in the process. As a result, Brown made changes to improve the customer experience.

Arby’s continues to empower their teams and focus on the employee experience through various initiatives. Most recently, they introduced the Arby’s Brand Champ program, which aims to teach their teams how to engage more effectively with customers and to “better value and support Arby’s employees.” Since launching the program, they have communicated to over 70,000 employees that if they “take the time to understand Arby’s goals, Arby’s will try to understand theirs as well”. Arby’s is going above and beyond when it comes to the employee experience, ensuring that their employees are not only successful at work but also have the resources and guidance to achieve their dreams – whether they are related to further education or career development.

2. Best Buy

Best Buy has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the in-store experience and employee engagement. On Nudge’s podcast, Field Trip, Ron Tite of The Tite Group talked about how Best Buy “empowers their frontline staff to act in a way that reaffirms the values of the organization.”

He explains that Best Buy enables this empowerment by communicating to employees that “[…] the only thing you need to know is to be amazing. Whatever you think that requires for our customers – we trust you”. Empowering the workforce as Best Buy does creates better employee morale and, as a result, a better customer experience.

Best Buy is also very effective at engaging their employees in idea sourcing. They recently opened their “Experience Store” in Montreal to create a more interactive shopper experience, where people can test out the latest technology, from VR to drones or new video game systems. The concept for the new store came from sourcing employee and customer insights and ideas. For Best Buy, listening to their employees and customers ultimately allows them to move with retail market trends more effectively.


Health food outlet B.GOOD Restaurants is a great example of a brand that is effectively engaging their employees to improve customer loyalty. In an interview with Loyalty360, B.GOOD CMO, Kim Cerato, states that “a subpar in-store experience will cancel out even the most expensive of customer acquisition campaigns”. B.GOOD put their words into action when they involved their staff in their rebranding efforts and focused on training their teams to engage in customer interactions more effectively.

Cerato also spoke on how cultivating a strong culture has been crucial to B.GOOD’s success. In 2015, B.GOOD created an ordering app for customers to use in store. When co-founder Jon Olinto told employees that their pictures would be on the landing pages of the app, employees reportedly “reacted to the news with huge smiles and infectious chatter”. Showing employees that they are valued makes your employees feel like they’re a part of the bigger picture, which pays dividends in loyalty and hard work.

4. The Cheesecake Factory

As the only restaurant on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2018, the Cheesecake Factory knows what it’s doing. In fact, they’ve been on this list every year since 2014. A big reason is that, with menus over 250 items long and a penchant for consistency across its over 220 locations, the Cheesecake Factory is known for its high quality and continually updated training programs.

The focus on employee engagement goes all the way to the top; CEO David Overton cites training and recognition as top priorities within the organization, a key reason why he has a 93% approval rating among employees. The Cheesecake Factory recognizes its frontline associates’ great performance through its Wow Stories initiative, which circulates stories of great service across the entire company, boosting morale and spreading best practices.

5. Golf Town

Recognized as one of Canada’s 50 most engaged workplaces, Golf Town works hard to improve employee engagement and the associate experience across their stores. In the past year, they’ve collaborated with their store managers and associates to rebuild their core values: team, winning, adaptation, and authenticity. One of their most recent efforts to improve staff engagement was implementing Nudge into Golf Town locations across the country.

Using Nudge’s digital communication platform, Golf Town improved communication between upper management and frontline workers and increased engagement on in-store initiatives, such as events, promotions, and new offers. Within five days of launch, Golf Town achieved 78% adoption across their entire frontline workforce and have been able to achieve a 75% response rate using the Nudge app.

“Nudge is a game changer for the retail landscape, and has done amazing wonders for our teams who are highly engaged and have a place to share their voice, enabling us to better communicate with our frontline like never before,” says Golf Town president, Chad McKinnon. “It’s played a big role in helping us shift the culture and elevating the associate’s connection to their team, company and our brand.”

6. Home Depot

Recognized as one of Canada’s top employers for young people in three of the past four years, Home Depot has been committed to providing a great workplace for its associates. They care about making their associates feel part of the Home Depot family by trusting and supporting their frontline associates in many ways. Firstly, they give their staff the autonomy to give discounts up to $50 on any item in the store, for any reason they deem reasonable. Their staff are experts in the industry, and they treat them like such.

Secondly, Home Depot supports their staff to achieve their personal goals in many ways. Through Team Depot, their associate-led volunteer program, associates are able to work with local organizations to give back to their communities. Home Depot also offers support for associates in financial emergencies through the Home Fund, tuition reimbursement for associates pursuing higher education, and support for veteran and active-duty associates.

7. Hyatt

Hyatt’s choice to focus on empathy over perfection put them on an unconventional path towards success in the hospitality industry. Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt’s CEO, was quoted in a Fortune interview saying that the key to Hyatt’s success is “making sure that we are connected to the emotional experience that our colleagues and guests are experiencing and then designing their experience so that it is fulfilling for them.”

Instead of using a script when speaking to guests, Hyatt staff are free to be themselves during guest interactions. This creates a more authentic customer experience and encourages employees to establish an emotional connection with guests.

Hyatt not only utilizes empathy to create a better customer experience but also to create a better employee experience. Implementing the Housekeeping Flextime Program is a perfect example, where housekeepers have the option of leaving if they get their work done early, or to clean additional rooms to make extra money. Another benefit includes the Family Assistance Leave, which offers a minimum of 8 weeks paid leave to primary caregivers.

8. Nordstrom

Nordstrom is so famous for its world-class customer service that there have literally been books written about it. Those great customer experiences that they provide can be traced directly back to their amazing employee experience – they’ve been ranked one of the Top 100 Places to Work for 21 years. Take their somewhat mythical employee handbook which allegedly reads, in its entirety, “Rule #1: Use the best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.”

While it’s been revealed that this isn’t Nordstrom’s only rule for employees, they do take it seriously. Trusting their associates and giving them the autonomy to handle situations how they see fit creates a strong and positive relationship between staff and the company. This leads to high levels of employee engagement and a real desire for frontline associates to succeed and perform well in their roles.

How does Nordstrom ensure that their associates have good judgment? They hire and train according to their culture, sticking to their core values of trust, respect, communication, loyalty, empathy, and humility. They look for associates that display these characteristics and train all employees (including managers) to uphold them, making for a great work environment.

9. Patagonia

From providing on-site child care, to their policy that employees must surf when the waves are good (yes, even during work hours) – Patagonia understands that accommodating your employees’ needs and passions is the best way to create a great employee experience. While employee accommodation helps foster productivity and improved morale, the best employee motivator is instilling trust.

Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard’s key to a happy and productive workforce is to “hire the people you trust, who are passionate about their job, passionate about what they’re doing. Just leave them alone, and they’ll get the job done.” Granting autonomy and independence to the right type of workers allows for a better work environment and, in turn, happier employees.

Patagonia’s deep care for the environment has also led them to provide support for any of their employees who want to learn about the environment. One way that they do this is by funding up to 2 months of internship programs for any environmental non-profit.

10. REI

This sporting goods co-op consistently ranked in the top 10 companies for employee engagement, with some of the most passionate and happy employees out there. An REI Employee Engagement Index reports that 92% of employees go beyond what is required to help REI succeed and that only 18% of employees were seriously considering leaving REI at that time.

One of REI’s biggest efforts to improve the employee experience is through their “company campfire”. This initiative was launched to improve two-way communication between upper management and store clerks. REI also supports its employees by offering various efforts and benefits. Employees get an additional two days off per year to “go outside and get inspired,” as well as the third day off when REI closes all of its stores on Black Friday for their employees.

11. Sephora

Sephora has mastered employee experience by focusing on three key aspects: training, technology, and development. All cast members (their internal name for frontline staff) start with training on the three main product categories (perfume, makeup, and skincare) starting on day one, and continually get retrained on new products, techniques, and trends. Sephora is so committed to training that they even developed Sephora University with three locations globally, offering training to the frontline and corporate employees alike.

In addition to making their cast members industry experts, Sephora provides them the most cutting edge technology to use in store. From ColorIQ (their digital shade finder) to handheld registers, cast members are using world-class tech as often as they use a makeup brush, which makes their jobs easier and more enjoyable. This is key, especially when you consider that 93% of Millennials consider up-to-date technology as one of the most important aspects of their workplace.

Finally, Sephora prides itself on providing mobility for its cast members; whether that’s between positions, stores, departments, or even countries! One cast member has even grown from a Beauty Advisor to becoming the General Manager of France through Sephora’s commitment to growing, training and developing their top talent.

12. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has received top ratings for customer experience out of 9 of the top airlines. Their secret? Putting their employees before customers and shareholders. In a company blog post about culture, Southwest Airlines stated that “we believe that if we treat our employees right, they will treat our customers right, and in turn that results in increased business and profits that make everyone happy.”

A great example of when they put their employees first was in 2016 when Southwest announced their new employee uniforms. They asked 48 crew members to help design the uniforms, ensuring that Southwest employees would be proud to wear it to work. Placing priority on a lighthearted and friendly culture, Southwest also encourages flight attendants to add humor to their announcements. See for yourself – Southwest employees aren’t afraid to have some fun on the job, and that certainly pays off in terms of the customer experience.

13. Starbucks

Starbucks is a great example of a brand that understands the value their employees bring to the business, whether it’s putting a smile on someone’s face, or building long-term customer loyalty. Starbucks’ focus on its employees has not gone unnoticed. In fact, 87% of customers’ affinity towards Starbucks is driven by how the company treats its employees.

Since day one, they’ve focused on putting employee-friendly policies in place. For example, they support their staff by paying tuition for university and online programs. Another perk, all Starbucks staff can earn company shares through their “Bean Stock” program.

Even their organizational structure is designed to drive employee engagement. Starbucks managers refer to their team members as “partners” instead of employees. This light touch from upper management shows how they want partners to know that they play an important role in the bigger picture, which in turn, motivates them to work better.

14. Wegmans

Wegmans is ahead of the curve when it comes to employee engagement, experience design, and culture. Kevin Stickles, Wegmans’ VP of HR, stated that “our employees are our number one asset, period. The first question you ask is: ‘Is this the best thing for the employee?’.” In fact, Wegmans spent $50 million on employee development last year, $5 million in scholarships, and has been recognized as one of Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work list for over 20 years.

They also go above and beyond in making sure their employees have the resources and know-how to be experts in their area of work. Deli workers are sent on trips to France, Italy, Germany, and Wisconsin to learn about cheese, while butchers are sent to Colorado and South America to learn about beef. Wegmans is a prime example of extending the employee experience beyond the store, by providing a life experience to workers.

While competitors are skeptical that companies can both increase profits and invest in the employee experience, Wegmans has grown to become a $6.2 billion-a-year company. Plus, 94% of their employees state that they’re proud to tell others they work at Wegmans. That sort of brand advocacy is priceless.

15. Zingerman’s

The Michigan-based food business group is so passionate about employee experience that it launched a spinoff. “Zingerman’s Community of Businesses” includes 10 independent businesses in the Ann Arbor area: bakeries, a Korean restaurant, a cheese shop, a candy store, even a travel food tour service. And among them? ZingTrain, a training consultancy that drives the brand’s employee training program while working with other brands looking to take their employee experience up a notch.

At Zingerman’s, employee engagement isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have. “The more engaged employees are and the more they understand where you’re trying to go as an organization, and the more bought-in they are to where you’re going, the more they understand how they can have an impact,” explains Maggie Bayless, founding partner of ZingTrain.

The “complex ecosystem” of employee experience at Zingerman’s includes a written vision, decision transparency, a “training compact,” and much more. “Most people want to do a good job. They want to make a contribution. Yes, there are people that just want to punch the clock and go home. But I don’t think that’s most people,” says Bayless. “People spend a big chunk of their life at work. They want to be engaged and feel like they’re building something, and that their brain is being used. I think that for a long time people just didn’t think that was possible at work, so they didn’t ask for it. But I think people always would have liked it.”

The takeaway?

If you want to improve the customer experience, focusing your efforts on the employee experience should be your first step. Which example of amazing employee engagement are you going to try first?

4 tips for providing meaningful employee rewards and recognition

4 tips for providing meaningful employee rewards and recognition

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of a business. I recently saw a great diagram called the “Engagement-Profit Chain”, which outlines the business value of employee engagement. It looks something like this:

Employee engagement flow chart | Nudge

As you can see, employee engagement has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. But, what’s missing from this chain are the factors lead to the success of your employee rewards and recognition programs.

We know that employees need to feel challenged, motivated, valued, and well-connected at work. So, having a corporate culture that embodies a vision of continual improvement, strong communication – and especially employee rewards and recognition! – can help you get there.

If you invest a little in employee rewards and recognition, it can go a long way. According to research, companies spend 1% or more of payroll on recognition, 85% see a positive impact on engagement. To get it right, you need to make sure that you are giving meaningful employee rewards and properly recognizing your employees for their time, efforts, and successes. This can be a little trickier with frontline and deskless workers, but it’s worth it. After all, the more effective your recognition and rewards programs are, the more engaged your employees will become. So, what are the keys to success? Here are 4 tips for providing meaningful employee rewards and recognition to your deskless workers.

1. Employee rewards don’t always have to be monetary

Let’s be honest, we all love getting some extra cash or a gift card from time to time. In fact, gift cards are the most widely distributed employee incentives. But, it comes to a point where we have to question the meaning and value behind a gift card. With employee rewards, there is a major opportunity to provide employees with something individualized and meaningful. Even with limited resources and money, there is still room to get creative. Is there something else that is related and unique to your company culture? Is there a type of reward that would increase workplace socialization, such as team lunch or birthday celebration? These are things to think about…and it’s easy to learn what will resonate: just ask your employees!

2. Recognize more than just results

Effort is important, too. Employees often spend large amounts of time and effort on tasks or projects that aren’t generating big results (at least not right away). Plus, our valuation of our work is directly tied to the amount of effort we’ve put in. The harder a project is, the prouder we feel of it, even if it does not generate big results. The lesson? Make sure your employees are rewarded and recognized for effort and dedication. If they have put the time in and feel proud of what they’ve accomplished, they will definitely feel good about your appreciation. Recognition is an important psychological need, which means it should also be an important piece of your internal business structure.

Gallup quote on employee rewards and recognition | Nudge

3. Gamify your employee rewards program

Gamification is your friend. Games and rewards go hand-in-hand and are proven to be very effective at driving behavioral change, increasing workplace motivation, and increasing overall engagement. By introducing gamification, you can increase employee engagement by 48%. Try gamifying workplace initiatives, like training and development, by using leaderboards, badges, or points. Then, distribute appropriate recognition and employee rewards based off of involvement, achievements, and overall scores.

Gamification (and employee rewards) can help address knowledge gaps, too. Do you have a workshop on health and safety coming up? How about a digital marketing session? Use gamification, recognition, and rewards to celebrate employees who are most involved and active – or to incentivize those who aren’t. Take it a step further and continue to promote this learning and recognizing those involved by using games and mobile apps.

Gamifying employee rewards | Nudge

4. Make sure everyone (seriously, everyone!) knows

Why put all of the work into planning a recognition and rewards program, when there is no plan (or an ineffective plan) for implementation? Employees need to know when there is a system in place. Without awareness and a proper understanding, employee rewards and incentives will have little effect on engagement and productivity. Whether you are celebrating an employee achievement or encouraging adoption of new workplace technology, communication is critical. With today’s dispersed workplace, how will you make sure that all everyone involved knows about the program in place? Call out the programs in your communication platform or other channels. When awards or recognition are given, spread the news far and wide. Nothing gets employees excited like seeing these types of programs in action. 

3 strategies to activate your frontline while reopening

3 strategies to activate your frontline while reopening

As social distancing rules continue to be lifted, brands are experiencing the initial phases of recovery and opening their doors across the country. With customers starting to experience the “new normal”, it is clear that frontline associates are playing a more critical role than ever before, especially when it comes to educating customers on how to navigate the new in-location experience.

Experience-driven brands, including retailers, restaurants, and hotels, are being tasked with educating their entire workforce—existing, returning, and new. With government regulations, plus new operating procedures, they need to ensure employee and customer safety and satisfaction. The brands that will succeed in this new environment are those that are able to develop communication strategies that cater to the unique needs of these different employee groups while also inspiring them to exceed expectations. In doing so, brands can not only expect to successfully activate their workforce but also benefit from increased levels of performance across teams.

Multi-unit brands can start by providing associates with the information, inspiration, and insights they need to succeed under new market conditions. The strategies below outline ways brands can activate their workforce through accelerating frontline performance during location reopening and beyond.

1. Accelerate employee onboarding and recruitment

The speed at which your organization recruits and onboards associates during the initial phases of reopening will be paramount to long-term success. Brands that keep the lines of communication open with furloughed employees, ensuring they are engaged and connected to the brand, will be able to rapidly integrate waves of returning staff, in alignment with reopening schedules. Also, as operations continue to scale-up, brands will need to quickly hire new staff which they can prepare for by enabling returning associates to refer top talent from their own networks.

An effective re-onboarding campaign will ensure that returning associates have the information needed to get up to speed on new protocols and operating procedures. For example, with Nudge, brands are able to recognize and greet associates with a “Welcome Back” digital badge. This not only creates a welcoming atmosphere but also kick-starts a series of automatic, bite-sized communications that inform staff on operational changes and reinforces new behaviors.

For many, it is unclear who among the furloughed staff will be returning to work, so now is a good time to turn to your associates to boost recruitment. By tapping into employee networks, brands can rapidly scale their teams to access potential hires that may be great additions to the talent pool.

2. Ensure consistent execution

As business operations return to a “new normal”, brands will need to ensure alignment across the frontline more than ever before, especially during phased reopening plans. For most organizations, frontline managers will be the first employees to return to physical locations and will likely take the lead on inspiring associates as they come onboard. During this time of transition, headquarters will need to ensure frontline managers are equipped with the right tools to streamline operations and effectively reinforce new practices to meet expectations.

With team-based task management tools, frontline managers can align their teams by providing associates with a clear understanding of operational expectations. Rather than assigning tasks from headquarters, organizations can empower frontline managers to drive execution by creating and monitoring tasks for each location they oversee. By quickly informing associates of best practices surrounding new policies, frontline managers can play a central role in meeting heightened customer expectations and maintaining a competitive edge.

3. Increase brand alignment

Finally, as operations continue to fine-tune over the short term, brands cannot lose sight of the brand-employee connection. This connection will be a driving force behind the new in-location experience and a key motivator for associates to meet heightened customer expectations. Aligning employees to your brand, while fostering a sense of community, will be imperative after a significant time of disconnect. As employees return to work, organizations can empower employees to become brand ambassadors by reinforcing their mission, vision, and values, also creating alignment across teams.

With the goal of fostering passionate brand advocates that create differentiated experiences in-store, brands should plan to continuously communicate how associates can succeed in creating memorable moments in the customer journey. Using open-forum communication channels, brands can take things a step further by also creating a culture of feedback and gathering ideas directly from the frontline on what can be done to improve the customer experience. Associate-facing technology can be especially helpful when it comes to furthering the brand experience, giving employees an outlet to discuss tips, tricks, and best practices from their own experiences, which can be shared amongst locations.

By successfully implementing strategies that support recruitment, onboarding, execution, and brand alignment as part of their reopening plans, retail, restaurant, and hospitality brands can expect to gain a competitive edge by successfully activating their frontline workforce. To see these strategies in action, watch our 45-minute on-demand webinar with Marc Galloway, VP of Store Operations at Soft Surroundings.

Required reading: resources to help you support your frontline during COVID-19

Required reading: resources to help you support your frontline during COVID-19

There’s a lot of noise out there right now with growing uncertainties around COVID-19 and what it means for business. These factors outside of our control have created many unknowns for individuals and businesses, especially the frontline workforce. To help you stay up-to-date, we’ve gathered best practices and tangible advice from industry leaders and publications on supporting your most valuable asset—your people.

1. To stay informed

Required reading: Leadership is most important in times of concern or crisis

It’s important to stay up-to-date and in-the-know during an ever-changing situation. That being said, it’s also important to prioritize useful and factual information. Be selective with the type and amount of information you read, and focus on reliable sources (like the World Health Organization and CDC). Having foundational knowledge allows for a more clear understanding of potential implications for the business and how they will impact your people.

2. To provide reliable communication

Required reading: Demonstrating care in times of crisis

Your frontline workforce relies on clear direction and consistent communication for inspiration in times of uncertainty. It’s critical that you communicate regularly and in ‘real-time’. Having an avenue that allows for instant communication (i.e. mobile messaging) is crucial in situations that are constantly changing.

During periods of rapid change, issue regular updates each step of the way outlining your organization’s response. Frontline associates will be empowered through information sharing and clear messaging. Remain available for any associate feedback or questions, and encourage it. Signaling to your frontline that leadership is there for them adds a level of trust and camaraderie.

3. To be decisive

Required reading: Leading through COVID-19: Making smart decisions amid uncertainty

With a constantly changing situation, it can be daunting to make big organizational decisions without a clear picture of how it will impact the business. Although indecision feels safe short-term, in times of uncertainty, employees look to leadership for reassurance and security. Make the best decisions that you can right now and address important policies and procedures.

In times of crisis, certainty in decision-making magnifies employee trust, which in turn, dials down anxieties. The more pressure you’re under as an organization, the more intentional you must be to stay strong in turbulent times.

4. To show appreciation

Required reading: Coronavirus response: People first, economics second

Your people bring your brand to life, so let them know you appreciate and support them! Show your frontline that you value them by prioritizing their personal well-being in all circumstances. Developing the attitude of “we’re all in this together” builds a sense of shared purpose, community, and belonging. Rewarding and recognizing on-going contributions by employees is an important way to deepen connections in the organization.

Take time to prioritize and care for your people in this unpredictable situation. The ability to keep the frontline workforce engaged, empowered, and connected will ultimately impact the outcomes of this crisis. We will get through this together.