Rethinking Employee Development for the Retail and Wholesale Workforce

CoachHub · 27 July 2022 ·

When we think of the retail and wholesale workforce, images of cashiers and sales associates generally come to mind. But, it’s not just the front line staff that make organizations in these industries run smooth. Today’s top retail and wholesale companies rely on a large number of corporate employees who perform critical roles. So how can you ensure employee development programs are optimized for this broader cross-section of workers?

The retail industry is rapidly evolving. The rise of e-commerce, the decline of brick and mortar locations, and the influx of young workers with different expectations have changed the face of what it means to work in this sector. Here’s how to innovate your approach to employee development.

Create opportunities for career progression

Given the challenges of recruiting candidates in the current job market, it makes sense for organizations to focus on their reskilling and upskilling practices in order to retain and advance the teams that are already in place. Employees are looking for workplaces that will promote their career goals. Not sure how well you’re doing in this area? Here’s a simple tip: Just ask your employees. Here are some possible survey questions to help you understand how well the career pathways you’re creating are a fit for the needs of your employees. 

  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how well does our organization as a whole support you in your professional development?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how well does your manager support you in your professional development?
  • Do you feel like you’re progressing professionally at this organization?

Use your survey data as a starting point to understand the work you still have to do in order to create meaningful career development opportunities for your organization.

wholesale employee at work

Build a culture of resilience

As shifts in global demand occur, the retail and wholesale sectors have an opportunity to embrace a culture of continuous learning and development. Whether the industries’ strategic priorities lie in attracting and retaining skilled talent, working with employees to meet their professional and personal needs, or in shifting mindsets and policies to meet the digital and social expectations of the next generation of consumers, it is clear that companies need to invest in their people.

Organizations should look to prioritize creating a more stable and resilient work environment. COVID-19 has caused high levels of stress for retail and wholesale workers. Many workers are concerned about adapting safely back to an in-person workplace. Others are concerned about what has changed about their roles and have an uncertain outlook about their futures.

And even without the pandemic, retail and wholesale workers have been grappling with the direct or trickle-down impacts of volatile market conditions as well as ever-increasing pressure to learn and master new systems and technologies.

To properly arm employees with the skills they need today, employers should focus on helping their top talent develop the soft skills necessary to respond to rapidly changing processes and market shifts. This new style of employee development is less about in-class training and more about one-on-one, personal connection.

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Ensure everyone has access to resources

Technology is a key enabler of employee development, and can help with training and coaching, mentoring, individual development plans (IDPs), performance management, employee engagement and retention. But, there’s a common mistake organizations make when it comes to employee development technology. Often, they limit who has access to it.

Democratizing access to learning and development technology is a major step toward improving the way you help your employees grow. Technology-based learning platforms allow you to communicate with employees in real time. They also enable you to get feedback from your employees about how they are progressing through their IDP or other learning initiatives.

With technology-based coaching tools it is possible for managers to provide on-the-spot feedback and coaching when an employee completes their training. This can be particularly useful if an employee receives negative feedback following the completion of their training module or course – it allows them an opportunity to discuss this without having to wait until their next scheduled performance review meeting with the manager.

Bottom line: The future of work is personal

As an employee, your relationship to work is changing. You want to be more involved in your own development and in the success of the company as a whole. In addition, you want to be more involved in your own career trajectory. The way we work continues to evolve, with new skills being developed in radically different ways—including virtually—such as improving the customer experience, efficiency and workflow (to name just a few).

That’s where digital coaching comes in. As the retail and wholesale workforce of today moves towards a more flexible, highly-skilled and educated future, the importance of individual coaching is increasing. Digital coaching is one of many tools vital to overcoming these challenges; it provides organizations with a competitive advantage by engaging their employees in an effective way and providing them with appropriate development opportunities that meet their needs. This approach can be used to support every aspect of your organization’s people strategy, from onboarding through training to retention.

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CoachHub is a leading global talent development platform that enables organisations to create personalised, measurable and scalable coaching programmes for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organisations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 80 languages. Serving more than 1,000 clients worldwide, CoachHub’s innovative coaching programs are based on proprietary scientific research and development from its Innovation Lab. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB Capital. CoachHub was certified as a carbon-neutral company and consistently measures, reduces, and implements strategies to minimise its environmental impact.

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