How to Use Technology to Deliver Creative Solutions for Hiring and Retention

Employee at a donut shop shares a tray of donuts with a customer

In 2021, more than 47 million workers quit their jobs. By taking a closer look at what has happened in the labor force, the last two years can be better described as “The Great Reshuffle.” Even though hospitality and retail industries have had the highest quit rates consistently above 4.5 percent, hiring rates have outpaced quit rates since November 2020. While many workers are quitting their jobs, even more workers are getting re-hired somewhere else. How can retail, hospitality, and food service companies attract these workers?  

To be an employer of choice, companies in these industries have worked to extend new benefits and opportunities. We spoke with business leaders from across all three industries who shared how they adjusted their business practices to attract and retain workers. One thing they all have in common is recognizing the importance of exploring different ideas for their workforce and opening the door to how technology can bring that vision to life. 

Onboarding Made Fast and Simple

Offering a smooth and quick onboarding experience can make a difference in retaining new hires in a tight labor market. At Westside Donuts, a large Dunkin’ franchise in New York, the Director of Operations Wyclif Kpanou offers on-the-spot onboarding for new employees, and it’s made a huge impact for new hires and managers. Through their UKG solutions, new hires can easily enter in their pertinent information on day-one and quickly get started in their new roles and earn wages. This means less time is spent on filling out forms, making photocopies, and eliminates the delay to starting work. And frontline managers no longer need to handle cumbersome and repetitive tasks related to onboarding. Instead, they can focus more valuable time on key training needs for new hires and other high-value tasks and responsibilities.

“The biggest benefit was not having a delay to onboard new employees,” says Kpanou. “The fact that you can have everything done on the spot—such as have the link sent to the employee, have them log into the UKG platform and fill out the onboarding forms—is a big asset for us. And for those who want to work for us, they have found our onboarding process very easy.”

There are other ways to make employees lives easier too, such as offering direct deposit and self-service tools like online access to W-2 forms. Kpanou adds, “Knowing that the job market is so tight and difficult, and everyone is offering new perks, it’s also about how you can make an employee’s life easier at work. It’s these little things that employers often overlook, but when you put all these small things together, they can help you with employee retention.”

Support Scheduling Flexibility and Mobile Apps

Workers in the retail space have reconsidered their priorities since the pandemic, and research suggests that more workers are seeking jobs that provide scheduling flexibility. As an early adopter, URBN—a portfolio of global consumer brands that includes Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, and more—has leveraged its UKG solution to offer flexible schedules to employees. “There are a lot of functionalities we have utilized like shift swap, open shift, request to cover. The pandemic has shown us that having an easy way for employees to quickly adjust schedules and coverage is critical,” says Liz Zdankiewicz, manager of workforce management at URBN.  

While URBN has evolved its scheduling practices with support from UKG solutions, another impactful technology feature has been the Dimensions mobile app. “The mobile app was a major driver for us to move to Dimensions,” says Zdankiewicz. “It enables employees to pick up shifts, do shift swap, and more right from their devices. We do have a very large portion of employees, if not almost all, who are millennials and Gen Z-ers that basically use their phones for everything. The Dimensions app allows us to meet them where they are.”

Another benefit URBN was able to fully take advantage of with UKG solutions was the ability to use its technology features to streamline administrative tasks for managers. Through this streamlined approach, managers at URBN have more time to be out on the sales floor. “Employees feel more supported because now it’s not just them on the floor, they’re seeing their superiors on the floor…they’re seeing more of that visibility, which also allows for them to feel more supported and want to continue,” Zdankiewicz said. 

Gain Actionable Insights with Your WFM Data

Once a company implements new business practices to attract and retain employees, UKG solutions can also provide valuable insights into the performance behind newer practices. Stephanie Reed, corporate director of workforce management at Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, which owns and operates regional amusement parks and water parks, recognized this by using UKG Dimensions for gathering employee data. “Workforce management itself is down to the data: How many people do we need? Do we have any people to support? Do they have the equipment to support?” says Reed. “We’re looking at work-life balance and using that data to make sure we’re making better decisions.”  

Through UKG Dimensions, Reed is working to assess attendance and headcount. “I look at things in the system—we’re just pulling in the attendance module. I’m excited about that reporting because it will help me fine-tune my shrinkage data, such as how many call outs do we have at a certain point in time? Where does it peak? Where does it ebb, and how can I tie that into headcounts?” explains Reed. “I rely on the system to track the labor side of it.”  

Adapt to the Future of the Frontline Workforce

As the retail, hospitality and food service workforce continues to evolve, companies exploring ideas to support employee growth and long-term retention will go hand-in-hand with technology. With various ways to use technology for new business practices, UKG provides employers the ability to adapt today to what employees will want tomorrow.  

For more information on how UKG solutions improve the employee experience, check out our Life-work Technology white paper.