Whether retailers know it or not, they may not have control over their digital workplace. More and more employees are using several different chat apps, like Facebook Messenger and What’s App, and different devices to communicate, trade shifts and deal with day-to-day work-related issues. This leaves the door open for inconsistencies in processes, inefficiencies and liability as messaging is taking place over public networks.

Too many organizations have a lax attitude when it comes to managing their digital workplace. Some even commend their employees for finding innovative ways to handle their own scheduling and pass corporate messages along. But these businesses are losing visibility into what’s going on behind the scenes. I have heard story after story of the digital workplace gone awry and in a world of privacy and strategic alignment where we’re seeing schedules, communication between employees and shift swapping posted on the internet, all without manager approval, this can have serious consequences for an organization’s brand and corporate culture.

Why you need to take control

Communication
One of the key issues the digital workplace solves for companies is that it provides a comprehensive, highly interactive, secure communication channel. Most hourly employees don’t have access to company email and instead rely on meetings with their managers or postings in the back office to get corporate information or see their schedules. This one-way communication strategy and lack of personalization leaves no opportunity for staff to provide feedback back up the chain. Many digital workplace platforms provide communication vehicles that can be tailored for a specific audience and enable two-way communication between store employees and corporate. Employees are then stitched back into the company fabric and are given a voice, so they feel like they’re part of the company instead of just being talked at by it.

Performance management
For some time, HR thought leaders have been talking about how antiquated the performance management and review process is and want more real-time functionality. Figuring out a winning strategy can be difficult because organizations are working too fast and want more frequent feedback. The digital workplace gives you the potential to adopt an in-the-moment performance feedback loop, allowing for better information, more collaboration and transparency into the work that employees do.

Mobile training
Another area that HR professionals are excited about is mobile training. Today, if someone wants to take a training course they go to their Learning Management System through a browser. Being able to get and give training on a mobile device makes it much more accessible. Depending on how it’s presented, technologies can provide training materials, which can include targeted content, videos, quizzes, surveys and rewards, on any mobile device and at any time.

How to take back control: A digital workplace strategy
The digital workplace is more than workforce management. When you really start to delve into what an effective digital workplace looks like you get a Pandora’s box of different functions that hit nearly all facets and levels of the organization.

Set priorities
Companies can too often get side-tracked and stuck in an analysis paralysis of sorts when it comes to implementing a new digital workplace strategy. Different parts of the organization will want a piece of the pie when they see all the functionality and options that a digital workplace platform affords. Retailers can struggle to prioritize different initiatives, so the first step is to ensure you have a clear understanding of who needs what and when.

Driving the most value
You can then move into performing a cost-benefit analysis and figuring out appropriate feature function capabilities to drive an appropriate roadmap. It’s critical here that you steer clear of deploying in silos. If it drives value for your organization, you don’t need to implement all scheduling functionality and then all communication functionality; instead it can be highly effective to complete deployment in bits and pieces. You’ll serve multiple teams at the same time and provide each with the biggest benefit first.

Roll-out and training
Change management is one of the most overlooked parts of any implementation, but the digital workplace makes it easy. The tool itself can be used as its own change management and training vehicle. When users log in for the first time they’ll receive training about the platform right on the platform itself. Tracking and managing adoption is critical both now and in the future. You’ll see what users like and don’t like, ask questions and fine-tune as you go along.

Maintaining Control
Unsecure networks and social chat apps, with their inherent lack of corporate visibility into how staff are communicating, are the wrong tools for retailers. Though these applications are faster than email, they fail when it comes to data protection, security and user support needs. It’s time for retailers to take back control of their digital workplace, which includes much more than just chat apps. Offering employees mobile real-time options for scheduling, training, communication and team messaging will ensure retailers can maintain control of their corporate culture and flow of information.