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Ensuring Associate Safety During Time Studies

September 15, 2020

Workforce Productivity

There’s no getting around it – across the United States, retail has shut down more than 40,000 stores because of the COVID-19 crisis. Yet supermarkets are seeing a spike in traffic and labor demand. Amid droves of mass hiring for grocers comes a greater challenge of preparing all associates for the additional tasks and processes required for stores in the age of social distancing. But with store managers needing to manage their operations effectively, as well as track and lead continuous improvements in their processes, how can they do so while also ensuring associate and community safety?

Efficient, Safe Time Studies

Time and motion studies were developed for consistent, assembly-line work. In retail, however, traditional forms of time studies involve massive amounts of data collection and expensive third-party consultants, who can cost up to $250,000 across a few months of time studies. Since the pandemic hit, hiring others to conduct in-store time studies has added health risks to the list of obstacles that can dissuade retailers. However, with mobile systems of time measurements, it’s possible to avoid the process of adding additional risk. A system that lets you crowd source this information through your associates can eliminate this risk and help you build maintainable, baseline labor standards for the long-term. However, since labor processes themselves have changed in the era of COVID-19, you’ll want to start from reasonable expectations.

Pre-Built Templates

Examples of labor standards you may want to include are cleaning plexiglass in checkout aisles, gathering cleaning supplies, putting on or removing face masks, and activities around portable hand washing stations. Either way, by setting an expectation beforehand, the process of determine time measurement scope becomes simplified. It becomes easier if you have a way of automatically calculating the number of observations needed to develop an accurate labor standard for a new task or process for your stores.

Prepare For The Post-Pandemic Normal

One thing for sure is that the current pandemic environment can only last so long. Just as it’s important to adjust accordingly, it’s also critical to remember what “normal” was. ServiceSense automatically identifies outlier data within your labor standards collection, guaranteeing high accuracy and minimized manual error within how your measurements are calculated.
A smart time studies solution may even have AI capabilities built into it, helping you corroborate your time observations by comparing calculated standards with your real-time data in your back office systems. You can easily transfer new standards calculated into your Workforce Planning system.

There’s no playbook for retailing in an international pandemic. Supermarkets, convenience, and food retailers face both public health and sustainability concerns. We hope that through offering retailers a chance to easily deploy and crowd source time studies, they can help your associates the perform vital tasks needed to support their local communities and stay safe.
Reach out a Nextenture consultant today if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you navigate this challenging environment.

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