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How a Better Employee Experience Can Motivate Your Staff During the Holidays

How a Better Employee Experience Can Motivate Your Staff During the Holidays

An employee experience needs to be intentionally designed and empowering, even during peak periods like the holiday shopping season.

If you think about it, there are actually two kinds of holiday spirit: the one expressed by consumers looking forward to spending time with loved ones, and the spirit that leads retail employees to do their best on the job. Brands who are seeing better business outcomes are paying close attention to the latter category.

We’ve all had great experiences with retail associates who bring joy to holiday shopping:

They’re the team members who are proactive to reach out before being asked for help.

They are patient when shoppers are stressed or don’t offer all the necessary information right away.

They manage to convey the same warmth through digital channels like e-mail or chat as they do in person.

Customers might never learn the names of these retail team members, but they remember the experience that employee provided and how it made them feel. They’re the people who come to represent the retailer in those customers’ minds, almost as much as a brand logo.

When employees offer a great customer experience, people tend to assume it’s based on the training they’ve received, or their previous experience in a similar role. When employees fail them, however, it becomes apparent that the company isn’t creating the best experience for its own team.

An employee experience needs to be intentionally designed, and to empower people at every stage of their journey with a company. This not only includes when they go through onboarding but day-to-day coaching and mentoring, and support to handle peak periods like the holiday shopping season.

Technology plays an essential role in creating the best possible employee experience. It has become the key to success because brands of every kind need their teams to help lower costs, drive efficient growth, and exceed expectations with “customer magic.”

A technology-driven employee experience can contribute directly to a more motivated team by:

Saving time, effort and hassle

While associates may be needed on the store floor, there are plenty of other retail employees who could perform many of their most important functions successfully from anywhere. Technologies that allow them to cut down on commuting and finding parking spaces can leave a lot of energy that goes into serving customers better.

This not only includes tools to communicate and collaborate like Slack. Centralizing customer data into a single platform can help unify a decentralized team. A platform like Customer 360, for example, helps align disparate business functions and avoid duplication of effort or human errors by offering a single source of truth that houses customer profiles, past purchase history, and more.

Allowing talent to shine brighter

Retail work used to involve a lot of sorting through lists of product inventory, updating spreadsheets with sales totals, and starting each marketing campaign from scratch.

Automation brings a radically convenient “set-it-and-forget-it” opportunity to a wide range of common retail business processes. This allows employees to automate and scale previously manual tasks, allowing them to devote more time to value-add activities that only a human can do, while simultaneously providing a better experience for customers.

For retail employers, meanwhile, automation often simplifies complex processes and can help them save on IT costs, as well as the cost of acquiring and keeping customers.

Getting answers–and taking action—faster

An effective workflow is important in any organization, but particularly in retail. If employees aren’t sure whether to call, e-mail or text their colleagues, they can waste time and cause frustrations. If getting information about a customer requires digging through an array of applications, service and support operations begin to plummet.

A great employee experience offers team members technologies that accelerate their time to value. This can include the use of tools like Slack, which is tailor-made for organizing collaboration based on specific projects or teams. They can also use their CRM to connect the same data across marketing automation and customer service platforms. That way, staff can not only see what’s going on within the retailer at a glance, but move more quickly on the insights they see.

Celebrating and encouraging outstanding efforts

The holiday season is all about giving, and that doesn’t just mean the gifts consumers give to their families and friends. For retailers, employee experiences become richer when they incorporate mechanisms to recognize and reward the work that has been done.

This can happen at a broad level, through an employee all-hands event, or even virtually in a video call. Think about how you can use data to highlight outstanding contributions from the team, or draw out behaviours and strategies that allow coworkers to inspire each other.

Instead of an “employee of the month,” for instance, how about a “Customer Magic Moment” of the month, where you tell stories about how a team member exceeded expectations? Bonus points if the story shows how technology can be used to achieve a similar result by anyone in the company.

Motivation can also come through employer-driven opportunities to develop skills. Think about whether you can offer team members time to use resources like Trailhead to upskill or reskill in areas that will advance their careers. It’s just another way to say “thank you” in a way that feels genuine.


The pressure of the holiday shopping season can be something of a stress test for your employee experience. Once it’s over, consider holding a post-mortem to check in with the team and assess where you could improve.

There might be processes ripe for automation that have never been tackled before. In other cases you might learn of areas where digital technologies can be used more effectively through additional training.

No matter what you do, remember that optimizing your employee experience means you’ll be even better prepared for the next holiday season – and all the key moments in between.

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