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Hot workforce management tech rollouts from a cold winter

Equipping employees with the right technology helps keep them around.

Retailers avoided employee discontent during the winter of 2021-22 with innovative technology solutions.

As the industry spent the winter dealing with labor shortages, and chains including Best Buy cited the omicron variant as having a negative impact in staffing, many retailers turned to technology to keep their employees feeling engaged and appreciated.

Following is a closer look at how Walmart, Kroger, and Sephora utilized workforce management innovation to keep the labor supply warm even as temperatures dropped.

Walmart is making its Walmart+ program, initially launched in September 2020, available free to all full- and part-time Walmart U.S. associates working in the company’s stores, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. This adds nearly 1.6 million members to the offering.

In addition to serving as a reward for their work, Walmart said providing employees with free membership enables them to use Walmart+, provide feedback and also offer customers first-hand information on its benefits.

Walmart is extending free Walmart+ membership to U.S. associates following a promotion for American Express Platinum cardholders it launched in October 2021. Holders of the American Express Platinum card (which has an annual membership fee of $695) who use their card to purchase a monthly Walmart+ membership can receive a statement credit which covers the full monthly membership cost of $12.95 a month, plus applicable taxes.

Kroger is leveraging solutions from microlearning technology provider Axonify to streamline the hiring, training, engaging and motivating of its nearly 500,000 grocery associates in the ongoing face of disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Internally, Kroger brands its Axonify training solution as the “Fresh Start” employee app. Associates can download the app on their own mobile devices, or also gain access via shared corporate devices. Employees are encouraged to log in as soon as they start their shift, and are introduced to Fresh Start during the first day of their onboarding process.

Since launching Fresh Start in 2021, Kroger has been using the Fresh Start app to provide three-to-five-minute training programs focused on all areas of employee well-being, featuring corporate executives and professional health leaders. The company closed out fiscal 2021 with 15 million Fresh Start sessions among 100,000 associates

Looking ahead, Kroger will deploy the Fresh Start solution to focus on training store associates about the “friendly” aspect of its “full, friendly and fresh customer experience promise. The company also intends to expand the scope of Fresh Start beyond its retail supermarket division to the supply chain and manufacturing divisions.

Sephora is unifying its global human resources (HR) practices in response to its strong international growth during the last decade. The beauty giant is deploying SAP’s SuccessFactors as its global Human Resources Information System (HRIS) for all countries and employees.

In addition, Sephora is deploying mobile-accessible solutions from Qlik to help corporate HR staff manage local employee needs, jobs, and recruitment requirements. By developing an initial Qlik application – called People Trends, available on mobile devices via the Qlik Sense mobile HR platform, Sephora can now provide managers with a single view of all HR data from which to make informed decisions.

This capability allows all managers throughout the Sephora organization to work with data that is always updated in real-time, regardless of the country they are based in. The Qlik solution is structured around four functional areas: employee engagement, talent development, recruitment, and HR organization and effectiveness. This Qlik application is dedicated to data visualization, and is intended to serve as a main driver in the overall HR digitalization process.

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