COVID-19 has turned the retail world on its side. We’re still figuring out how to work within this new normal, and one thing is clear: communication is key. Given the ever-changing nature of this public health emergency, effective communication across the organization is essential to keeping customers informed, employees engaged, and ensuring that work is kept on track while still ensuring precautions are taken at every level. In today’s reality, the consequences of getting this wrong have never been higher.  

The Aha Moment 

This really struck home on one of my recent zoom happy hours with my friend, Elysse. She works in a high-volume restaurant, which, like so many others, has recently been forced to rethink their business model. Listening to her talk about the tough spot they are in made me realize how hard it is for everyone right now. From retail to food service we are either underwhelmed or overwhelmed with demand, neither of which is great, but there are things restaurants and retailers can do to help mitigate some of these challenges.   

Feeling out of the Loop 

One of Elysse’s biggest challenges is regarding communication. She doesn’t feel like she is getting all the information she needs to be successful during her shift. With her workforce being cut in half, she does not hear all the conversations she used to and is not getting updated on what happened during previous shifts or new procedures she needs to follow.    

During times of crisis, it’s critical to communicate directly with both employees who have been quarantined and those who are still on the floor. Leaders need to keep all associates in the loop by sharing health and safety procedures and best practices, and perhaps most importantly, keeping everyone connected.  

Ways you can use Mobile to keep employees grounded and connected 

Retailers and restaurants understand how critical consistency is right now, so if they’re not already, they should consider actively auditing their stores to ensure everyone is following critical standards. I heard from another friend, Steph, about how important this is to her staff. Steph manages a grocery store and told me about all the changes going on in grocery and how it’s “a madhouse”. She said one of the things helping her and her employees through this time is keeping track of what tasks they need to complete every day by using their mobile devices. The corporate office pushes out assignments to be completed and Steph can walk through the store, audit them, and make sure tasks are done properly, i.e. the plexiglass being installed for cashiers and 6 feet markers on the floor for customers. Her list is getting longer and longer, but she said this is one thing that keeps her grounded and connected to her employees.   

Communication Tip: Use signs and surveys 

Elysse and Steph have also seen quite a few notifications pushed out to employees on social distancing rules while in breakrooms, common areas and stocking shelves. Retailers are doing all they can to keep their stores open and employees safe and ready for the demand of the public. Steph mentioned that her workforce management system was also pushing out surveys and quizzes to employees to ensure they know the rules regarding the wearing of personal protective equipment, customer numbers allowed in the store at a time, and cleaning requirements. She said the surveys are on-demand and the results go directly to corporate so they can institute immediate changes if necessary. It’s a new world these retailers are living in and they are using all methods available to help their employees be successful. 

We’re Here to Help 

As we continue to learn about this trying time, we will continue to share what we know with you including ways to keep your employees engaged and safe. We hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and well during this trying time. If you have questions about how to leverage your system during this time, please reach out to us or visit the Community page to see the FAQ on COVID-19. 

Published: Monday, April 20, 2020