According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, retail is the most important occupation in the U.S. The $13.20 hourly average wage is steadily rising with companies such as Amazon.com increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour, and Target setting a 2020 goal to do the exact same. Despite this rise, retail workers’ needs are increasing faster than their wages. Employers can offer better benefits to their workforce to meet the needs of their employees, and increase engagement rates.
Why employees don’t engage
There are many reasons employees don’t take advantage of their benefits. Employees may not know what benefits they have or why the benefits are not relevant to them.
Employers and employees can benefit from increased benefits engagement in many ways. This includes reducing stress and absenteism in retail. Employers can also gain insight into their employees’ needs, which can be used to tailor the benefits they offer. There are many ways to improve employee engagement with benefits.
- Increasing awareness. Regular communication with employees is the best way to raise awareness about benefits. Retail employers may find it difficult to communicate with employees in a way that they will respond, as many of their employees work in shifts. To reinforce benefits availability, communication should be both in-person as well as digital. This will allow for flexibility and effectiveness. Employers can remind employees of their benefits by sending them emails, text messages, flyers, and handouts.
- Be an example. Employees look up to their coworkers to learn how to interact with benefits. This is especially true if they are receiving their first benefits. Experienced employees and retail managers who advocate for benefits in the workplace will be more inclined to encourage others to do the same. It’s also true that employees who aren’t encouraged to discuss benefits with their managers will be less likely to do so.
- Gamification Gamification is a great way to engage employees and make benefits more interesting. Many benefit providers make it easy for employees to participate in company-wide contests. These contests can be leaderboard-style with prizes or friendly competition. Employers who are unable or unwilling to give cash prizes or physical prizes can offer discounts on merchandise or a bonus day.
- Encourage employees to give feedback: Even though they are already using their benefits, companies should still make time for their input. Employees will have opinions about the benefits package. This could influence the way other employees interact with it. Employees should have a positive experience with their benefits. This will help spread the word. Employers should address concerns raised by employees early to prevent negative peer feedback from affecting the adoption rate.
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Adding New Benefits
Employers may not offer the right benefits for each employee, which could lead to low engagement. Retail workers have different needs and demographics than employers. It’s important for you as an employer to be aware of these. Are there any parents who need childcare? Are they recent college graduates and are currently paying off student loans Are they eligible for financial wellness? These questions may help you decide which benefits should be included in a package.
Employees will use benefits that are relevant to them more often if they are more useful. These benefits can be discussed with employees by companies via anonymous surveys or with managers.
Retail employers can achieve better results by offering benefits that support employees. This will result in less stressed employees.
FAO Schwarz: Back from The Dead
FAO Schwarz was the iconic toy retailer that closed its last New York City Fifth Avenue store in 2015. Is it dead? Not quite. ThreeSixtyGroup, was the buyer of FAO’s intellectual property. It opened a new flagship in New York’s Rockefeller Plaza in November 2018, to great fanfare. Will this brand revival succeed or not?
Many of us can recall brands that we loved and then lost, brands to which we were emotionally attached, such as Oldsmobile, Woolworths, Brim coffees, Amoco, Blockbuster and Brim coffees. If the right conditions exist and it’s done properly, brand revival can sometimes succeed. Think of Polaroid and White Cloud. These brands were brought back after being out of business for many years. While brands can fade quickly from the market, they are not as easy to forget. Strong brand equity is often lost.
Let’s look at what it takes for a brand to come back from the dead and how FAO Schwarz meets these criteria.
First, awareness must still exist. This includes emotional attachment, authenticity, and awareness. FAO fulfills this requirement. Although it was gone a while back, the memories of FAO are still vivid. Many people, across generations, grew-up with FAO, and still have fond memories of the wonder and experience of the store.
The second is that there must be an unmet market need. Toys”R”Us (TRU), a retail giant, was recently liquidated. This left billions in toys sales searching for a new home. While Amazon.com, Target, and Walmart.com have taken a large share of the market, there is still plenty left. This is a lot of empty space, which FAO can fill with a unique selling proposition.
A resurrected brand must also have a compelling story to tell. FAO clearly has a “story” The new store, which spans 20,000 square feet, will offer even more experiences than the old one. Along with magic shows and a station for remote-controlled cars, the life-size piano that was immortalized by Tom Hanks’ “Big,” move will be available.
Strong brand management and strong marketing support are also essential. Although it is too early to know if ThreeSixtyGroup has the necessary resources, the Rockefeller Plaza marketing campaign is a positive start. FAO must attract customers only interested in toys. There are no televisions, food, or apparel available at Target and Walmart.
Fifth, competition must be considered. FAO will face the greatest challenge. Walmart, Target, and Amazon all have increased their toys offerings. They offer more floor space and more online support. Amazon also offers a printed catalog for the holiday season. Party City, Ace Hardware and Costco are all jumping on board. FAO will face stiff competition, but it is known for its unique experiences.
Sixth, new owners cannot repeat the mistakes that led to the brand’s demise. FAO was unable to sustain a large number of stores, excessive inventory, and inability to keep pace with e-commerce. ThreeSixtyGroup will reduce inventory, for better or worse. It will source much of its product assortment from itself (branded “FAO”), and limit its real estate by focusing only on “stores within stores” and franchising.
Consumers must “feel the power” of a brand in order for it to be successful in revival. Every case is unique. While the six requirements mentioned above are essential, sometimes a brand has more power than they realize with consumers. FAO Schwarz is, according to my instincts, a powerful brand.
FAO Schwarz is in a good place if it plays its cards well. It is powerful to have a strong brand memory. For me, this brand is making a comeback.
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