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Visionworks Proves Harmonized Retail Is Crucial for Maintaining Employee Engagement

After more than a year of living under social distance guidelines, shoppers are notably rushing back to physical stores—signaling brick-and-mortar will remain a critical component of the retail landscape.


Although digital trends have been accelerated by the pandemic, consumers are looking for more than a quick-and-easy purchase. Now more than ever, shoppers are looking to connect with real-life associates. 


But despite shoppers’ willingness to return to physical retail, physical retailers must be ready for them—and that starts with smarter workplace practices that produce high levels of employee engagement. 


Successful businesses understand that employees should be at the center of every customer-facing organization. It’s a strategy eyewear retailer Visionworks knows well and thrives off of. 


During the National Retail Federation’s Retail Convergence Event, held June 21 to June 25, Visionworks’ Vice President of Human Resources, Compensation, and Payroll Services Robert Allison spoke with Ceridian SVP of Retail Strategy John Orr about how the retailer approaches culture and, in turn, how the employee experience impacts business outcomes. 


In the NRF Big Ideas Session titled Store operations, the associate experience, and their impact on profitability, Allison revealed how Ceridian, a  human capital management software company, is helping Visionworks bring its unique culture to life through a harmonized approach to retail operations. 


Eyewear is one of those unique retail categories that require incredibly knowledgeable store associates that can complete complex customer interactions. As a result, Visionworks’ success is tied directly to its ability to hire, train and retain the right candidates. 


“Our strategy is focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience while our culture is built around a sustainable work environment where our associates can thrive and serve the communities in which we work with” said Allison.


Orr, who leads Ceridian’s retail and hospitality practice, revealed that Ceridian helps retailers like Visionworks leverage its data and technology to help make informed decisions to support their customers and employee population— a concept he calls “intelligence at work.” 


This all feeds into how Visionworks approaches scheduling, provides benefits and manages its workforce. To ensure it’s providing a seamless experience for its employees, Visionworks leverages platforms like Ceridian’s Dayforce, a comprehensive cloud platform that combines HR, payroll, benefits, workforce management, and talent management in a single application.


With much of the retail and hospitality industry still facing labor shortages, Allison explained that retailers must have associates in place to handle customer demand while at the same time avoiding overtime that could create a negative experience for associates, thus leading to employees that are overworked and less engaged. 


“How our company executes its people strategy is crucial to the happiness of our employees and customers, as well as the long-term success of the business,” Allison said. “Associate engagement is one of the greatest factors maintaining customer retention.”


Data supports this as well. According to a meta-analysis by Gallup, approaching engagement as a business strategy yields clear and better results, with highly engaged teams showing 21 percent greater profitability. 


“In a world that is increasingly digital, a human approach is still incredibly important,” said Orr. 


To watch the full session between Allison and Orr, check out their Big Ideas Session on the NRF’s Retail Converge Platform, running now until June 25.