For this, the latest episode of the 3Sixty Insights #HRTechChat video podcast, our guest was Michael Spataro, chief delivery officer for Legion, a provider of advanced technologies for workforce management (WFM). Michael and I enjoyed a wide-ranging, at once practical and philosophical discussion of organizations' relationship with their hourly workforce in the retail and service industries. Legion's software excels in helping employers in these industries support a strong, positive employee experience for their hourly staff.
In the summer of 2020, Legion published a report sharing the findings of a survey the vendor conducted. Respondents comprised about 500 wage and hourly employees and approximately the same number of managers, all in retail and the service industries. An top-line breakdown of the many findings is available in this press release.
According to the survey’s results, notably, two out of three top reasons for leaving an organization are essentially the same for employees and their managers. For wage employees, these top three reasons are a lack of scheduling empowerment, poor communication, and an inability to get paid early. For managers, the top three are the lack of tools that would make it easier for them to communicate with their employees, an inability to get paid early, and a desire to reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks such as scheduling.
Note that for the one that is not as similar, it pertains to the same issue nonetheless: scheduling. Notice also that all these concerns leading managers and their staff alike to leave their jobs in these industries all have to do, palpably, with the quality of their experience with the employer. If an employer were to address these, the payoff in their workforce’s relationship with the organization’s customers would probably improve significantly.
How do we know this? Michael and I delved into it a bit. For one, it’s a fundamental respect for the Service-Profit Chain, a well-documented idea detailed in Harvard Business Review. The central tenet of the Service-Profit Chain says floor associates satisfied in their work and its effects on their work-life balance are more apt to treat customers well, which, in turn, leads to better retention of both.
With this in mind, we discussed the past two years' impact on employee satisfaction in these types of roles. It hasn't always been the case everywhere, but the majority of hourly staff have long struggled to thrive in these industries. It can be thankless work. It isn't just the pay, which has tended to be low. The entire employee experience has historically left a lot to be desired in these types of roles.
For hourly jobs in retail and the service industries, as Michael puts it, the pandemic has precipitated a major power shift in the employer-employee relationship. All I will add is that the past two years have brought a festering inverse of a healthy Service-Profit Chain to the surface. Look at it either way, and the ramifications are clear.
"There’s no shortage of workers, but the availability of workers willing to do retail or hospitality jobs, where the employee experience is poor, has dwindled," Michael says. They're holding out for better pay and better conditions overall. It’s the reality of the Great Resignation in these sectors among these employee demographics. Call it the Great Resignation or something else, even. The terminology doesn't matter so much. What does matter, far more, is that the pandemic created a scenario wherein employees in these kinds of roles have been able to exert more influence over the conditions of their employment and its effects on their overall lives.
“It’s more than better pay," Michael says. "Employees want to interact with their employer" in much the same way they do as customers "with every other company in their life.”