Gap Stores have introduced a new strategy for dealing with its employees which has reaped huge rewards for little expenditure and may have relevance for market trading.
According to an article in Inc. Magazine, Gap conducted a trial in 28 of its stores pitting “control stores” against those which introduced consistent work schedules for their employees.
Traditional wisdom said that keeping employees “on their toes” with “lean and mean” staffing arrangements was the way to go. This study proved otherwise. A number of measures were introduced to give employees more surety –
1. Managers were no longer able to change shifts at very short notice.
2. As many employees as possible were given guaranteed hours per week.
3. Rosters were posted at least 2 weeks in advance.
4. Consistent start and end times for shifts.
5. Rostering more staff for peak periods.
The stores that embraced the more predictable work environment achieved a 7% productivity increase which was worth a staggering $3million to Gap.
Now, we mentioned a possible relevance to market traders and here is the connection. Traders are required to perform an incredible variety of different tasks in their small businesses ranging from the bottom of the pile (cleaning and other menial tasks) to more high level things like forward planning, business loans and leases, bulk buying contracts, and so on. Getting some structure and predictability in place is important for efficient operation and the more we fragment and create uncertainty, the less efficient we are going to be.
Traders are constantly crying out for direction and surety. The whole debate over tenure is based on that desire for surety. Things like renewal are always going to throw a spanner in the works, and innovation will always have an unpredictable element, but the easier we can make that process, the more productive we can be. Sometimes traders don’t help that process with their own complications and sometimes it is apparent lack of empathy from management that is the culprit.
Maximising surety in the retail environment is not easy but if the Gap experience is any guide, the rewards for all participants might be substantial.