Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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January 2017 | | 109 its merchandising teams are able to plan activities around the times when traffic will be heaviest. On the associate side, Hannaford can now manage any number of associate preferences and requests, adds Stevens. "e scheduling tool en- ables us to easily manage associate availability and time-off requests. When we scheduled on paper, this was typically managed with a pile of sticky notes — which was not the most reliable method. Now associates can check their schedules from home or from a mobile device without the need to call the store and wait for someone to walk to the back room to check the schedule." e grocer is currently piloting schedule genera- tion that would give employees an extra week in advance to know their schedules, he says. According to Charlie DeWitt, VP of business development at Kronos, these employee-friendly methods are rapidly gaining ground in the retail industry, particularly as a new generation of Mil- lennials seeks more flexibility in the workplace. "We're seeing much broader adaption of mobile technology," he asserts. "Retailers are realizing that their employees want to be able to check their schedules and swap shifts, or even check their paystubs, from home or on the go." In fact, the overall concept of employee engage- ment is generating a lot of buzz in retailing circles, notes DeWitt. "In the early 2000s, I think people invested in workforce management and schedul- ing because they wanted to control labor costs, and they were worried about compliance risk. But in the last four or five years, really since the recession, the question that I get over and over again is, 'OK, we're doing a great job in controlling our labor costs and handling compliance risk, but can you do anything on the customer satisfaction side and on the employee side?' Because people are fundamental to everything the industry does. So if you have empowered, engaged workers, they're going to drive same-store sales, con- version, average transaction value, and so forth." Staying in Compliance In addition to its employee-friendly features, another bonus to workforce management technol- ogy is that it helps retailers maintain records for employee compliance. Hannaford's Stevens notes that by using Kronos' Workforce Timekeeper, the company has been able to "easily evaluate associ- ate hours over the look-back period defined in the Affordable Care Act and maintain compliance with this and other legislation." He adds that the retailer recently completed the deployment of Kronos InTouch time clocks in all of its stores. "We will likely use the inte- gration of timeclocks, time and attendance, and scheduling to assist with compliance schedule rules for minors," he explains. Hannaford is also in the process of deploying Kro- nos' Workforce Analytics. is technology, which en- ables real-time visibility into store performance across the entire enterprise, will replace a home-grown legacy tool that Hannaford had been using for 25 years. "Workforce Analytics will make it much easier for our scheduling managers to access productivity informa- tion and respond to shifts in our business volume," says Stevens. "All this information will finally be integrated with our scheduling tools and will make it much easier for managers to maintain service levels." While Workforce Analytics is one the newest systems being used in the grocery industry, there are other labor solutions that could gain ground in the coming years, notes Kronos' DeWitt. "Because Kronos is involved in a lot of different industries, we see technologies being adapted in other industries that eventually fall into retail," he says. "For instance, with our field services technolo- gy, we've been working with companies that replace auto glass or do cable installation, or even home health where nurses go out to deliver care in people's homes. We've already developed solutions for that, so if the grocery industry were to move more in the direction of home delivery, we could see that being a ready-made solution for them." PG Avoiding Implementation Pitfalls Charlie DeWitt, VP of business development at Chelmsford, Mass.- based Kronos Inc., has seen his share of missteps as retailers imple- ment workforce management solutions. Here are a few tips he offers to help make things go more smoothly, and ultimately help companies get their return on investment: To run a good forecast, you have to put forth some effort: "Algorithms are smart, but they're not that smart; you have to maintain the forecast," he notes. "So, for instance, if you have a snow day in February, you don't want that data polluting your forecast for the next year. Or if you're running a promotion and it's not exactly the same day of the promotion last year, you want to make sure you account for that. Don't forget that Easter is a floating holiday." Focus on change management: "With an information technology- driven project, you have to make sure that that the end users — the store managers and employees — can use the system," he advises. "Otherwise, it's useless. It can't be an afterthought. You have to involve those people upfront." Start simply: In the past, DeWitt says he saw retailers fall into the trap of "false precision." "Many years ago, retailers thought that the finer-grained your labor standards were, and the more precise you were, the better off you'd be," he explains, "but then they started to realize that not every cashier will take the same amount of time to run a credit card transaction, and not every transaction is going to be the same between different stores and different cashiers." Now DeWitt and his team advise retailers to start with straightforward labor standards, as well as straightforward scheduling and forecast- ing philosophies. "If you need to get more complex, you can always do that, but start simply and start to get value out of the solution. We'll be there with you to guide you along the way." Retailers are realizing that their employees want to be able to check their schedules and swap shifts, or even check their paystubs, from home or on the go." —Charlie De Witt, Kronos

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