Empathy, Innovation, Inclusion: Cornerstones of Modern Retail Human Resources Strategies - Retail Council of Canada
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Empathy, Innovation, Inclusion: Cornerstones of Modern Retail Human Resources Strategies

April 29, 2024

Retail Council of Canada’s Human Resources Conference on April 25, 2024, brought together over 150 HR professionals to discuss pivotal insights into the retail industry’s workforce dynamics. Some key takeaways of the day: 

  • Listening with Empathy: Amidst the array of tools available, including AI, the paramount importance of genuinely listening to retail employees cannot be overstated. Pay is significant, particularly during times of inflation, but other concerns such as workload, training, and feeling heard are equally crucial. A focus on empathetic listening fosters a positive employee experience, which translates into enhanced customer satisfaction and ultimately better business outcomes.
  • Alignment with Company Values: Employees value knowing and aligning with their company’s values. Feeling connected to the organization’s mission enhances engagement and loyalty.
  • Insights from Industry Leaders: Notable speakers like Robert Laufer (Browns Shoes) emphasized the importance of emotional intelligence (EI) over artificial intelligence (AI) when interacting with C-suite executives. John Mortimer and Shelly Patel (Canadian LabourWatch Association) revealed insights from frontline retail employees, highlighting motivators beyond competitive pay.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Sessions, in particular the session led by Rochele Padiachy (Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion) delved into weaving DEI into business plans, emphasizing intentional allyship and intersectionality in leadership. The intersection of retail and DEI was explored, showcasing how diverse teams enhance innovation and product development.
  • AI in HR: Experts like David Lloyd, (Dayforce) discussed how AI can revolutionize labor forecasting, payroll compliance, and talent management. AI-driven innovations aim to enhance efficiency, accessibility, and talent development while mitigating biases.
  • Employee Engagement Strategies: Examples from Deb Craven (Longo’s) demonstrated practical approaches to revitalizing team member engagement, emphasizing the significance of listening sessions, department-specific dialogues, and embracing discomfort to foster meaningful connections.
  • Business Inclusion: Pina D’Intino’s insights into the Canadian Business Disability Inclusion Network highlighted the importance of incorporating tools, education, and assistive technology to foster workplace inclusivity.

In conclusion, the conference underscored the imperative of understanding and addressing the diverse needs of retail employees, aligning HR strategies with company values, promoting DEI initiatives, leveraging AI for enhanced HR practices, and prioritizing employee engagement to drive success in the dynamic retail sector.