Managing employee needs remotely

by Gys Kappers. We have seen a significant increase in the need for local businesses to start engaging with the frontline, non-desk workforce, especially in critical sectors such as the retail industry.

by Gys Kappers. Over the last five years, we have seen a significant increase in the need for local businesses to start engaging with the frontline, non-desk workforce, especially in critical sectors such as the retail industry.

Globally, organisations are continuously changing, however, over the last few months, the world has seen an unprecedented shift in operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses and families find themselves facing various unfamiliar challenges, while trying to deal with the new way of life that has been forced upon us all. The rapid change that businesses have had to undergo is also unprecedented; and now more than ever, employees need to feel safe and be able to access the right information from the right sources.

In the retail sector specifically, we have seen retailers adapt rapidly under these restrictions to keep the needs of employees front and centre, and to ensure that customers are satisfied. Employees need to remain well informed and motivated during these challenging times. Even as the restrictions begin to slowly lift, leadership need to communicate with employees more than ever before.

The importance of internal employee communication was recently highlighted by the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 Global Report, which revealed that employees regard communication from their employer as the most trusted form of information. As retail organisations continue to engage their employees about business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic – specifically around strategic operations and return to work programmes – the trust between the employee and employer increases. The research shows that trust can be increased by 78% by delivering clear and engaging communication.

In the retail sector, key factors to include in employee communication relating to COVID-19 business continuity plans include:

  • Communications from leadership: CEO videos.
  • Trusted, current information about the pandemic.
  • Personal hygiene advice as well as hygiene processes to follow at work.
  • Schedule management and digital payslip delivery.
  • Policy changes within the business.
  • Certified, digital work permits that employees will need access to.

As a mobile-first digital employee engagement solution, we have seen an increase of more than 600% in user activity on our platform since the outbreak of COVID-19. In an effort to inform and motivate their frontline employees, the CEOs of the businesses we partner with are regularly sharing personal video updates about this new way of life and the new way of work. For the first time, employees have a personal message being delivered to them directly through their mobile phones via the Wyzetalk app.

The communication teams within these retailers are, in real-time, informing their people of what is happening in terms of the pandemic, including government and company updates, personal hygiene best practices, hygiene programmes and business policy changes, to name a few. Digital schedule management for employees in the retail sector is critical. Our solution integrates with schedule management software to deliver updated schedules and travel programmes directly to employees on their mobile devices.

An example of this is the recent enabling of the delivery of secure, individualised digital permits to retail employees needing to return to work. This has helped retailers immensely in terms of getting employees back to work, eliminating the need to print and physically deliver permits. Recently, local retailers have also started digital payslip delivery with two-factor authentication.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is positive to note that retailers are recognising the communication needs of their employees. By doing so, they show employees that they are being heard and engagement levels increase, which in turn leads to a dramatic reduction in staff turnover, a decrease in absenteeism, and higher productivity levels. Above all, it results in safe, healthy and informed employees.


Gys Kappers is CEO of Wyzetalk, a mobile-first digital employee engagement company enabling organisations to communicate with their workforce on any mobile device, anywhere in the world –  while aiming to make workplaces more human.


– Receive the Retailing Africa newsletter every Monday and Thursday • Subscribe here

– Take advantage of Retailing Africa’s ‘Pay-what-you-can’ business support package • Read more