It’s time retailers flexed their employee experience muscles

The employee experience is a hot topic at the moment. There has been a lot of research looking into the impacts of both positive and negative employee experiences and how it affects a businesses bottom line.

According to the Harvard Business Review, organisations that prioritise employee experience are more competitive than those that don’t, generating double the average revenue.

However, improving the employee experience is not a new concept. In fact, back in 1918 the founder of Coles, Sir George Coles said a proprietor “has to have contented staff.” In doing so, those staff will look after the business.

Whilst the sentiment remains true, much has changed when it comes to what a good employee experience looks like.

Today, you would be forgiven for thinking that a great employee experience involves entertainment, free meals, or a bar and gym in the office. We regularly see and read about the world’s biggest businesses, with plenty of revenue to play with, building campuses with a whole host of company perks.

But, how does this play out in the context of retail, where margin-pressure continues to see the decline of once dominant brands? It is very hard to imagine retailers implementing an instore gym, bar or chef. More likely, we will offer discounts to local businesses but is this really the best way to improve the employee experience?

A good employee experience has nothing to do with perks

Whilst there are many definitions for the employee experience, at Ascender believes it hinges on the relationship between the employer and employee. Employees can simply no longer rely on a ping pong table in the office, Wednesday pizza’s or Friday drinks – these are nice-to-haves but may not address the diverse needs of the modern employee. Influencing the foundations of your relationship with your employees is about impactful personalised offerings.

Core to this relationship is employee pay. Staff members commit to working for your business in return for remuneration. Whilst this may sound basic, a number of businesses still aren’t getting this right, with our research showing more than one in four (28 per cent) Australian employees are not paid correctly.

Furthermore, Financial wellness is playing an ever more integral role in employee productivity and engagement. Studies around the world highlight how financial stress can significantly impact an organisation’s bottom line. Recent research from AMP estimated the cost of employee financial stress on Australian businesses to be over A$31 billion annually.

As such, getting pay right is the foundation for creating a positive employee experience, as well as an engaged and happy workforce.

How pay flexibility can further improve the employee experience

To better address financial stress and enhance the pay experience, forward-thinking employers are now offering flexible pay, which allows employees to access their income as they earn it. Smart payroll technologies are enabling this functionality, with key players like Earnd leading the way, whilst ensuring businesses are compliant with local regulations.

For retail employees, this is a game-changer. No more counting the days until payday, employees can now access a portion of their wages when they need it most. Even better, flexible pay can enable employees to set their own personalised pay schedule to meet their financial obligations and goals in their personal lives. This is a huge win for employees and can help them avoid falling further into financial stress.

For retailers, offering this benefit to employees pays. Not only does it reverse the productivity drain financial stress causes but it can also increase morale, retention and engagement in your teams.

It can also act as a significant differentiator for your business to attract top talent. More and more, skilled employees are looking for flexible work arrangements or personalised offerings. By enabling pay-on-demand, businesses can meet these criteria and offer an experience today’s new breed of star employees are coming to expect.

So, whilst retailers may not be able to offer an instore gym or bar, we can help employees meet their financial obligations by stepping up and providing a flexible pay model. This will help drive a fundamental shift in how people work, allowing businesses to keep pace with the changing requirements in the labour market and unlock the full potential of their workforce. Not only does flexible pay enhance the employee experience, but it will ultimately help employees tackle financial stress, leading to a more engaged, productive and high performing workforce.

Written by: Ben Bontia at Ascender




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