3 Key Takeaways from NRF

February 6, 2023

by Kristin Brennan

Legion at NRF

We spent time with industry leaders, customers, and partners at NRF 2023 in New York last week. We’re still buzzing with excitement. Three breakthrough themes emerged for us:

#1 Optimization is Critical in the Face of the Ongoing Labor Shortage Optimization

The labor shortage was a key theme, and most agreed it isn’t going away anytime soon. According to Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders, “There’s been a shift in the economy, and labor is now wielding more power than capital and profits.” With this shift, it’s more critical than ever that retailers invest in solutions that will help them maximize labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously.

#2 Investments in Employee Experience Are Key to Frontline Retention

One of my favorite sessions at NRF 2023 was “Rethinking the company associate experience with PepsiCo Foods North America’s Steven Williams.” You can catch the PepsiCo recap here. Williams shared his views on managing an hourly workforce, “Flexibility is the new currency for frontline retention.” He added that Pepsi doesn’t have a business model without healthy, well-trained, diverse associates. “The frontline is the business.” That’s why they are investing in the employee experience. Williams added “that technology investments are employee investments” and acknowledged that they compete with the gig economy for labor. Pepsi needs to entice people to drive for them instead of Uber or Lyft. That means giving their hourly employees greater schedule flexibility and control to improve the employee retention rate.

Legion’s State of the Hourly Employee Report supports William’s statements about the need for greater schedule flexibility and control. The report shows that other than pay, scheduling flexibility and control, at 97%, are the top incentives that would motivate an employee to take a new job. A recent Legion survey on the hourly workforce also supports William’s statement about the impact of automation on improving the employee experience. Managers said the top three tools their companies could invest in to make their lives easier were: an automated scheduling tool (60%), followed by a compliant time-tracking tool (36%), and an automated demand forecasting tool (34%).

Increase Frontline Employee Retention Through Performance and Rewards

Williams also stated that investing in the employee experience isn’t just about wages and benefits. While hourly employees must be paid a living wage, creating a positive experience for frontline workers goes far beyond that. He said recognition used to be all about money. However, frontline employees increasingly want to feel connected and recognized for their performance. Retailers need to celebrate success. Performance and rewards for hourly employees don’t have to be complicated. It can be simple micro-celebrations and a thank you for being awesome. Legion’s survey on the hourly workforce found that other than pay, greater recognition and rewards was the second highest-ranked incentive most likely to persuade hourly employees (58.3%) to take a new job.

Build Culture and Connection with Hourly Employees Through Communication

Williams shared that to increase retention, hourly employees must understand the strategy and purpose of their employer’s business. Effective and compliant communication can be a significant culture driver. Frontline employees are the brand ambassadors and must be able to articulate the company story. Legion’s survey on the hourly workforce found that 84% of managers agree that efficiency and productivity would improve if they could communicate with employees through the same app employees use to view their schedules.

#3 Remove Friction Through Automation

Simon Biles to Cara Sylvester, EVP of Target, and Steven Williams of Peps all talked about the importance of teams. Sylvester said, “Part of looking out for the team is to actively look for ways to make your teams’ jobs easier. We are always actively looking to lessen friction for our team.” Steven Williams of Pepsi also shared that they are actively looking to remove friction from work. Automation is one of the best ways to remove friction for managers and frontline employees so they can focus on what matters most.

Turn Hourly Jobs into Good Jobs

Legion was founded in 2016 with the mission to turn hourly jobs into good jobs by maximizing labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously. We focus on using intelligent automation powered by Legion WFM to empower hourly employees with schedule flexibility and control, as well as freeing managers from administrative burdens to focus on increasing revenue and frontline employee retention rates. We know workforce management must fundamentally evolve to be intelligent, automated, and employee-centric.

Watch the replay of our Big Idea session: Maximize labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously. Contact us to see Legion workforce management in action.Contact us to see how Legion workforce management in action.