As I have repeatedly stated, the retail staff is in charge of serving consumers and selling your products. This is exactly what we want and hired them to do! We did not pay them to sit in front of a computer all day reading emails. As a result, communicating with those personnel is frequently tough.
After having joined the retail industry from a company where everyone WAS reading emails all day, it was a real wake up call. I remember trying to figure out how the heck I would communicate new policies and processes to the masses. Group emails are just sooo easy to write up and push send! Within a few weeks of starting with the company I made a huge mistake by changing a company policy and emailing all of the managers about the changes that would be affecting them in the future. This turned into a huge uproar! Not only was I only able to reach a few of the managers by email but I neglected to think about how they were accustomed to receiving this sort of communication. Mind you this is a company of maybe 300 employees at that time and probably only 35 people had company email addresses. PS – This was only 3 years ago! This situation taught me I have to figure out ways to communicate with the employees and managers in a retail environment.
Over the years we have tried a few things which have worked and we still use today. Here’s a few that have passed the test.
Meetings – be a real live person
I know we all despise meetings and how many of them are ineffective, but it is really vital to engage with employees face to face. We needed to revise the job descriptions for every position in the organization a few years ago. Yay! We’re all aware of how much labor this involves. Instead than blasting out emails and asking individuals to make changes, we had meetings with each functional area. We included employees at all levels of the organization. People who held the job, those who handled those roles, those who managed the categories, and so on. They everyone contributed ideas, and HR oversaw the process. It was a fantastic collaboration, and everyone was ecstatic to be a part of it.
The trickle down effect is another effective strategy that can frequently work well for a simple implementation. It doesn’t work well with complex policies when employees need to hear it “from the horses mouth,” as I’ve discovered. Management is supposed to meet with their direct reports twice a month, followed by those supervisors meeting with their workers. The knowledge I share with senior management should ideally work its way down the organizational ladder. Sometimes it’s just easier to go to the other sites and offer the fresh stuff yourself. This ensures that the receivers hear the message in the tone you intend and that any queries or concerns are addressed immediately. Then, after a few weeks of the managers utilizing the new application, go back out and check in with them to see what is working and what isn’t.
Paper – Old School
I know this is going to sound really old fashioned but it still works. The company I work for still delivers a paycheck or check stub to every employee. Once a month the HR office with the contribution from all areas of the company publish a flyer, which is attached to a paycheck. It has upcoming important dates, new hires, people who transferred, fun facts, employees birthdays that month (up until a few weeks ago), and any other important information we want every employee to know about. At the bottom of the flyer is a simple quiz about the information in the flyer the employee can complete and earn an incentive the equivalent to $1. Employees can earn these incentives in a variety of ways in their jobs and save them to buy things at our Employee Store. In this day and age where everything is digital, it’s sometime fun to keep things old school and simple.
Digital Communication – New School
This can be in a number of forms: Intranet, a smart phone app (if your company is large enough), Facebook, Twitter, emails, TV screens in break rooms, employee/manager portals, etc. Again, my company is on the slower track with this sort of thing. But recently we added flat panel displays in all of our employee break rooms. Now a days TV’s are everywhere. I have noticed recently that there are TV’s in most restaurants, you used to only see them in sports bars. We update the TV’s every other week with similar information to what we put on the flyers. Implementing a new policy or process, announcements, new hires joining that location, who to contact with various concerns, fun factoids, are all great things that you need to communicate with the masses. The TV’s have really helped reiterate information that we are communicating through a few different channels.
These are just a few tactics that have worked well for us in a non-techie world.
What has worked well for communicating with the masses in your company?