The Weekly - June 2, 2020 - 8

The Pulse

Assistant Manager Johanna
Breed works with a customer at
Great Outdoor Provision Co. in
Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

tion weekly at minimum. If you haven't been talking to staff weekly, start now.
Use email to share documents, manuals, and to
disseminate information. Zoom is a great tool for
talking through big news, and even to get into the
nitty gritty of why you are making certain decisions. But nothing beats a phone call. Not everyone
feels comfortable speaking up in a group. Talk
one-on-one; your staff will feel heard and you'll
gather information that will inform your decisions. Let staff know there isn't a playbook carved
in stone, and that store policies will change as the
new retail normal evolves.

Retail is reopening. Here's what you need to be thinking about as
you staff up your store. By Berne Broudy

shop and laid off staff, and your full focus has been
on simply staying in business. As stay-at-home
orders relax and stores reopen, the next big challenge is bringing furloughed employees back to
work. And it's not as simple as typing names into
a schedule. Use this guide to transition to the new
normal as smoothly as possible.
Strong leadership makes people feel
more confident.
We all hope for a return to business as usual. In
the end, that may not happen. But proper prior
planning, clear communication, and a willingness
to be flexible will help you and your employees
navigate the next phases.
Staff up before you open up.
Don't wait until the day you'll open to the public to
bring employees back. You may need to reconfigure your store with wider aisles, directional aisles,


and Plexiglas at the registers before you welcome
customers. Having staff implement those changes
is empowering. Bring staff back to help complete
seasonal changeovers, merchandise, and tackle
deferred maintenance and other projects you've
wanted to get done.
The more time employees spend back in the
store doing their jobs, the more comfortable they'll
feel at work. Being with their "work family" before
the store is inundated with customers will ease
employee concerns and help people feel safe. It's
also an opportunity for staff to dial in new protocols like mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing.
Communication is key.
Your employees have likely been barraged with
conflicting information about COVID-19. Make
sure you know the CDC guidelines, state and local
regulations and recommendations, and help your
staff understand the facts. Start talking to staff
well before you open, and continue the conversa-

Plan for the new normal.
Do you need staff for curbside pickup, concierge
shopping, or a door greeter to count customers?
You may need to hire people for new positions.
How much traffic you'll have when you reopen may
be a moving target. If your staff have downtime,
train them in other tasks. Teach floor staff to restock or pack and ship web orders. Ask employees
with extra time to write about a great local hike or
favorite piece of gear for your blog or newsletter.
The best choices might be hard choices.
It may not be appropriate for all staff to come
back, and that's OK. Most retail employees are
customer-facing. If a staff member has a serious
health issue or their home or family situation
makes broad-based interaction with the public
suboptimal, and there isn't an option for them
to WFH, their continued employment may not
be good for you-or them. When you can, make
decisions with individual employees based on
the best strategy forward.


How to Bring
Your People Back

Take a phased approach.
The shutdown happened in phases; reopening
will happen the same way. Some employees will
be psyched to get back to work as soon as possible.
Some staff will feel nervous around a lot of people.
Do what you can to help people ease in. Determine
if some jobs-like buying, marketing, or even customer service-can be done remotely. If your state
limits how many people can be in the building,
some staff may need to keep working from home.


The Weekly - June 2, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Weekly - June 2, 2020

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The Weekly - June 2, 2020 - Contents
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