How to Support Grocery Store Employees During the Coronavirus Crisis

19 March 2020

Retail news & trends | Grocery Retail

The world is a pretty scary place for everyone right now. For grocery store employees, however, this is a particularly stressful time.

Ever since the general public was advised to self-isolate for the foreseeable future, supermarkets have become increasingly chaotic and stressful places to be. Stock is depleted practically as soon as it hits the shelves, with people stockpiling toilet paper, pasta, and basically anything else they can lay their hands on.

Inevitably, this is taking its toll on staff, most of whom would probably rather be self-isolating - especially when panicking customers lash out at them because there are no more cans of soup on the shelves.

Grocery store employees really are serving on the front line in this crisis. Without them putting themselves at risk by coming into work every day, who knows where we’d be?

Here are some ways you can keep up morale in your stores and help your staff do their job as best they can.

Provide them with plenty of support

As we said, working in a supermarket right now is tough. Employees are just as worried about the pandemic as shoppers are, but they still have to get out on that shop floor and go above and beyond to help things run smoothly for everyone.

The main role of HQ during this time should be doing their utmost to support their frontline employees. Maybe they need advice on dealing with difficult customers, or a little extra guidance on things like restocking procedures, rationing certain items, or making sure more vulnerable members of the community are catered for. Whatever it might be, stores need to feel supported - even if area managers can’t physically visit stores for the time being.

And remember, keeping up morale is extremely important in a crisis. Starting or ending the day with a motivational message or announcement will put staff in the right frame of mind to keep going.

Plus, showing recognition of the amazing work your employees are doing - even giving a special shout-out to those who really go the extra mile - will add a little extra boost to their day.

Keep the lines of communication open

Supporting your teams in this way is a lot easier when there are proper communication channels through which to do so.

Keeping comms focused, straightforward and collated in one place will allow staff to easily understand instructions and get on with their busy days.

And let’s not forget, in times like this it’s important to make sure that store teams are able to communicate back to HQ. Of course, they are your eyes and ears on the ground, keeping tabs on shopper behavior and demand for stock. But with the global situation changing rapidly day by day, it’s also essential for them to be able to get in touch instantly if an issue arises.

Get creative

Every industry is being impacted by COVID-19. The normal systems and procedures we’ve been using don’t apply right now, and a new set of best practices needs to be established.

It’s time to think outside the box a little.

Unlike a lot of other industries, grocery retail is doing well financially due to the public’s unprecedented level of stockpiling. This high consumer demand is not without its challenges, of course - we’re already seeing stores struggling to cope.

One way to combat this is hiring extra staff to help with restocking shelves and serving the overwhelming number of customers. Hiring more staff isn’t just a smart move for smoothing operations at a turbulent time - it’s a way of creating jobs for those who might have lost theirs due to the crisis.

It could also mean reassigning staff to different areas of the business that need more help, offering home deliveries, like Morrisons (if you don’t do that already), opening only to seniors or immunocompromised customers for the first hour of the day, or any number of other measures that will help not only the public but your overworked staff, too.

Agility is key in such a tough climate. Grocery retailers that are able to be flexible in their operations, and take the pressure off their teams in doing so, have the potential to come out of this stronger than before.

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Learn more about how YOOBIC help grocery retailers streamline store operations while keeping their frontline teams informed and well trained.

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