6 Strategies for Helping Grocery Stores Succeed in the Midst of Labor Shortages

By October 8, 2021 Blog, Grocery
elderly woman carrying dustpans in a grocery store

The ongoing pandemic has fundamentally changed the labor market for grocery and convenience stores. While still building back your workforce, you’ll probably have a leaner team for the foreseeable future. That means doing more with less.

Grocery stores can attract more workers and increase productivity with 6 initiatives:

  1. Making it easier for employees to be productive
  2. Creating a positive work culture
  3. Increasing efficiency
  4. Reducing errors
  5. Standardizing onboarding training
  6. Coaching effectively

It may seem daunting to tackle these strategies while still recovering from the pandemic.

But here’s the secret to success – start by implementing digital checklists and audits in your stores.

These tools help you turn a lean team into a dream team, even while the labor shortage rages.

Help employees succeed every day with digital tools.

When people feel good about the work they do, they’re more likely to stick with it. You help them succeed by making sure they know what to do and how to execute each task.

  • Make it easy to do the right thing.

    Put daily procedures in a mobile checklist for employees to follow. They won’t have to think about what to do, which takes pressure off them even when business gets hectic.In fact, research at Florida State University found that having a to-do list for tasks not only helped people complete the work but also freed their minds for focusing on other distractions that might pop up, such as a customer asking questions or a last-minute delivery.

    The digital checklists save data to the cloud which you and your managers can access any time. You’ll have real-time reports on employee performance, even when you’re not on location. You’ll catch developing crises early, when managers can address them proactively.

  • Create a positive culture.

    We’ve all worked in a toxic environment where it seemed management didn’t care about employees. But usually, management does care; they just don’t have the right data and the time to build a culture of support and empathy.Digital checklists combined with mobile digital audits quickly compile performance and compliance data for individuals, teams, and regions. They show managers where workers are struggling and what they need. For example, if teams aren’t finishing key tasks or maintaining certain quality standards, they might need additional equipment or more training.

    When management has the information and time to support workers, employee satisfaction and loyalty rise. That culture shines through in the customer experience as well, helping you grow revenue in a challenging economy.

Digital checklists and audits reap more business-boosting efficiency from each person hour.

With fewer people, grocery and c-stores have less time to spend on unproductive work. Teams need to prioritize activities that nurture the business.

  • Streamline procedures to accomplish more with less.

In a difficult labor shortage, grocery and c-stores often don’t have the time to figure out where time is being wasted. It’s a catch-22:

      • How can we get the performance data we need to run the business if there’s no time for data collection?
      • How do we know where to find efficiencies if we don’t have accurate performance data?

Digital checklists and mobile audits break you out of the trap. Because they’re in a digital format on handheld devices, they take little time to complete, and the data is instantly available for reports and analysis.

Checklists reveal which tasks aren’t getting done and how long procedures are taking. Then managers have time to review current practice, work with employees, and adjust the steps to save effort and improve success rates.

  • Reduce errors and time-wasting rework.

One of the biggest time and money wasters in the grocery and c-store business is problems caused by mistakes. If people get busy or distracted, they make errors. Depending on the mishap, you could lose business, suffer a safety incident, or incur the labor costs of re-work.

In areas where mistakes have critical consequences, such as aviation and medicine, professionals have long relied on checklists to prevent lapses. With a checklist in hand, employees won’t forget the required PPE or proper temperature settings for food storage, for example.

Integrate data-driven training and coaching for continuous improvement.

In a labor shortage, you need to get new people engaged quickly; you need veterans to take on more responsibility; and you need to retain good people with experience and know-how. That means investing more in training and on-going coaching. Better trained employees are more satisfied and loyal. They also treat customers well, which attracts more shoppers and drives business.

  • Ramp up skills at onboarding.

The first few days of training are crucial to an employee’s success. A comprehensive onboarding program increases the likelihood an employee will stay with your company and start contributing earlier. But managers often don’t have the time to run onboarding for every new employee, so newcomers are left to fend for themselves, which escalates turnover and exacerbates the problem.

Using a digital checklist, however, managers can put training in rookie’s hands. They can follow the steps to review videos and procedures, meet with other employees, shadow more experienced people, and debrief with management. Completing the onboarding checklist, new folks get to know the company and culture and become a contributing member of the team in just a few days, even if managers’ schedules are full.

  • Continue training with performance-based coaching.

    Coaching is one of the most important ways to retain employees, keep them happy and increase their efficiency. But effective coaching sessions must focus on positive feedback as well as detailed recommendations for improvement.

The best feedback that employees will trust is based on data. If you have a report of completed checklists and audit results for the last several weeks, you can show individuals exactly where they shine and where they fall short.

With clear performance records, managers concentrate coaching discussions on real problems and how to solve them. Employees have the gratification of professional development, and productivity improves, even with a leaner team.

MeazureUp’s digital checklist and mobile audit applications put the power of efficiency in your hands.

Whether you’re facing a labor crisis or not, MeazureUp saves management time, monitors performance at every store, and reveals new ways to grow margins.

  • Ensure compliance and safety.
  • Maintain brand standards and customer experience.
  • Leverage smart technology for proper food storage.
  • Check employee temperatures for COVID-19 safety.
  • Create a data log for audits.
  • Log performance data.
  • Reinforce training and procedures.
  • Improve employee satisfaction.

Try out MeazureUp for free here and see how it can help ease your labor shortage.