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Nowhere is the customer experience more vital to the long-term success of a business than in the retail industry. This is particularly evident as retailers work to ensure that brick-and-mortar shopping experiences are as convenient and personalized as those offered by their digital counterparts.

In this evolutionary period, retailers must recognize that the employee experience is at the heart of the customer experience. Whether you are trying to draw shoppers into physical stores, increase traffic to your online site, or boost downloads for your brand's mobile app, the redesign of the employee experience requires an approach that is just as data-driven as the customer experience approach.

When it comes to redesigning the employee experience in any industry, compensation must be a top-line priority. But this also means rethinking compensation for our multigenerational, tech-savvy, and work-life balance-focused workforce.

A recent beqom survey of 1,200 actively employed adults in the United States shows that workplace benefits matter. While cold hard cash in the form of holiday or year-end bonuses is the most important workplace benefit to 36% of workers, an even larger group (38%) ranks flexible work hours or remote work options as tops, both difficult perks to offer brick-and-mortar employees. However, another 19% said more or unlimited vacation time was most important in a benefits package.

Meeting employee expectations goes a long way for retailers looking to improve employee retention, create seasonal hiring roadmaps, and increase overall employee productivity. With that, here are some ways that retailers can meet the demands and expectations of employees through pay transparency, workplace diversity, and pay equity.

Align compensation plans with employee expectations

Improving your employee experience means meeting and anticipating expectations for your current and future workforce. This appears more challenging than ever before given that today’s workforce comprises five generations. Employees across such a wide spectrum of age ranges have varying financial priorities—from paying off student loans to coming up with a mortgage down payment, to saving for retirement and more.

It’s worth remembering that that compensation is not synonymous with salary. Across generations, the workforce is demanding more flexibility than ever before, which is why companies might consider offering alternative benefits—such as gym memberships or childcare allowances—that accommodate for individuals' busy lives.

Recognize and reward talent with equity

In 2019, pay equity shouldn’t be a question for business leaders to ponder. And yet, when it comes to compensation, pay disparity continues to perpetuate the American workspace. Almost half of our survey respondents feel that women are not paid fairly despite equal skill, performance, and experience, and close to one-third believe employees in their workplaces are paid less due to age or race.

In the same way that AI-based SPM software can offer employees transparency into how their productivity impacts their compensation, retailers can take advantage of technology to measure performance against a variety of factors that actually contribute to performance — like experience, education, skill sets and more — while removing the arbitrary and discriminatory factors like age, race, and gender from the compensation equation.

By leveraging AI and predictive analytics in the hiring and onboarding stage, retailers can eliminate unconscious bias from the compensation equation by making compensation fair, based on a variety of rules that could include education, experience, and certifications — but not race, age, or gender. Once a candidate is onboarded, retailers can continue to evaluate, incentivize, and reward employees against a number of factors that contribute to the only thing that matters: their overall performance.

But for employees, it isn’t enough for a company to be diverse; they must also compensate, promote, and reward talent with an eye toward fairness.

Build trust with transparency

The power of transparency is not to be underestimated in our data-driven and socially empowered world. While once a taboo topic, our survey shows that more employees are comfortable discussing their salary information with colleagues and with their employers making compensation data available across the company.

It’s up to retailers to give employees the tools they need to understand not just what they're being compensated, but why. Doing so will have a significant impact on employee trust, satisfaction and productivity. When paired with the power of AI, pay transparency can also be pivotal in increasing motivation across the organization.

This approach not only will build trust among your staff and show them that their contributions are valued, but also address the retail industry's high rate (and high cost) of employee turnover.

Retail’s state of evolution from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce means leaders need to look at big-picture change management, without focusing solely on customer and shareholder satisfaction, or even on corporate profit growth. Retailers have an enormous opportunity —and obligation— to redefine the employee experience for current and future workforces if they want to stay relevant. When it comes to creating attractive compensation plans, AI makes fair and equal pay easy to achieve and seamless to navigate.

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