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We always love an opportunity to talk with industry leaders about the challenges and insights driving their organizations – and The Millennium Alliance’s virtual assemblies last week didn’t disappoint. We spoke to retail and marketing leaders across a wide range of organizations looking to prioritize and invest in the employee experience in the coming month – and a few key insights came up again and again. 

Here are six things we learned at The Millennium Alliance’s transformational retail and CMO virtual assemblies: 

1. The labor shortage is real…

As businesses reopen and The Great Return brings employees back to work, the war for talent is leaving even top employers understaffed. There are a number of issues organizations are pointing to as the cause of this crisis: return trepidation, burnout, subsidies competing with minimum wage, and an increased focus on finding meaningful work, to name a few. To address the labor shortage head-on, organizations need to shift their focus to engaging and retaining the employees they do have. 

2. …and status quo doesn’t cut it anymore

For many organizations, the past couple years have kept them in survival mode, with a skeleton staff and band aid solutions to rapidly-changing protocols. But as the new normal emerges, organizations are ready to address, improve, and standardize their employee experience – and their employee communication process. As part of this new focus, organizations (finally!) are seeing that a one-size-fits-all approach to communication doesn’t work – their deskless and deskbound workers need very different tools.  

3. Scaling culture can be a challenge

We’ve all seen the stats around employee engagement as a driver of retention, sales, and performance – but scaling that company culture can be a challenge for frontline organizations employing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of workers that are distributed across the country or globe. Finding ways to keep a strong culture and forge connections with the frontline will be make-or-break for organizations in the coming months. 

4. The goal of employee communication is clear: revenue

Once upon a time, employee communication was a nice-to-have for HR departments looking to share intel on new programs and protocols. But now, organizations are seeing a direct connection between a well-informed frontline and higher sales. Particularly in frontline and deskless organizations, where employees traditionally have less access to standardized intel direct from head office, there’s a huge opportunity to invest in a communication strategy to boost product knowledge and share best practices that will empower associates and boost sales. 

5. CX is driven by EX

We are screaming this until our throats are sore, so it was great to hear industry leaders saying the same thing: happy end engaged employees provide the customer and guest experience that organizations dream of. And – here’s the important part – a happy employee isn’t just a well-paid employee. Employees want clear information, a sense of purpose, and a feedback loop so their voices are heard.  

6. The power of loyalty

Ah, loyalty programs. We’re talking a lot about loyalty programs with retail and especially marketing leaders, because of how much value is in the data – not to mention the customer retention it fosters. The challenge we’re hearing is inconsistencies in program deployment and in-store execution that can negatively impact that valuable data and customer retention. That’s where the associate comes in. The role of the frontline in mobilizing a loyalty program can’t be overstated – and that requires a robust communication strategy to ensure consistent information is getting to the right employees, at the right time.