9 engagement tactics to try with your grocery workers

Posted on: July 3, 2024Updated on: July 9, 2024By: Paige Magarrey

What is the grocery workforce experience? An associate working behind a register comes to mind, or someone on the floor helping customers. But the grocery workforce spans a much broader scope of people across multiple markets and myriad teams, from bakery and produce to back-room workers, comprising a complex network of skills and connections. 

And so too can the experience these workers face be disparate and varied—especially when the tools, support and resources they have access to aren’t consistent and aligned. In other words: grocery organizations bring together an interconnected but highly diversified network of workers like no other, but that can lead to fractures and disconnects in the employee experience. And the less aligned these teams are, the less the organization is able to perform—and succeed. That’s where employee engagement comes in. 

Employee engagement for grocery workers

Often, employee engagement is seen as a nice-to-have to keep workers happy and loyal. But employee engagement is far more powerful than that. Engagement has the ability to unite and align the sometimes-massive workforces that grocery organizations employ under one guiding light. It can rally workforces toward common goals and common driving forces. If it’s done right. 

And to do it right, you need a proper employee engagement plan, with the engagement tactics that make sense for your organization. 

What are employee engagement tactics? 

Employee engagement tactics are the ways an organization meets the needs of its workers to foster a sense of meaning, productivity, satisfaction and happiness at work. Many of them are derived from Gallup’s Q12 engagement survey, which highlights 12 core needs to be met to improve employees’ productivity: 

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  4. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
  8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  10. I have a best friend at work.
  11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

Employee engagement tactics are the tools in your toolbox that help you meet these core needs. One word of warning: try not to get too bogged down in the “how” of these tactics. Just think about the tactics you’d like to offer your people that best align with your engagement goals, and you can build out a broader strategy from there (Check out our Employee Engagement playbook for a full step-by-step approach!).

Employee engagement tactics to try

Here are nine tried-and-true engagement tactics to try with your grocery workers:

1. Employee recognition 

Employee recognition tops the charts as a primary ask from employees. In fact, 43% of retail employees name recognition as a leading driver of happiness and success at work. 

2. Employee rewards 

Are rewards and recognition connected? Yes. Are they the same thing? No. If recognition is all about acknowledging hard work, rewards are what you do with that acknowledgment—whether it’s through tangible prizes, perks or other offers. 

3. Company mission and purpose 

Sometimes, what your people are looking for is the “why” behind what they do each day at work. This is closely related to the broader culture and the values a company embodies on a daily basis. 

4. Role and expectation clarity 

Connected to company mission and purpose is a clear and direct understanding of what an individual’s role is in contributing to that company mission. Often, confusion over roles or expectations can waste time and drain engagement. 

5. A sense of belonging and inclusion 

Everyone wants to feel like they belong at work. So building a workplace that actively prioritizes diversity of voice and opinion, and equitable access to the resources and support that workers need to thrive, is a crucial need. 

6. Mental health and wellness programs 

Particularly timely as organizations continue to navigate out of the disruptions caused by the pandemic, there’s a strong need to address burnout and mental health concerns. 

7. Employee development and growth 

Upskilling and career pathing have been major topics for L&D leaders across frontline organizations for the past few years. This is especially true in supermarket organizations where the need to retain and engage staff through forward progression is crucial. 

8. Community engagement 

For many teams, a strong connection to the surrounding community is a critical component of employee engagement—particularly as the world is disrupted by elevated levels of theft, violence and volatility. 

9. Feedback and idea-sharing 

The need to feel heard is a foundational need for all humans—but at many and frontline organizations, the challenge is to address the scale and scope of making hundreds of thousands of workers feel heard, on a daily basis.

What to do with your employee engagement tactics

Engagement tactics are just part of the process. Pulling them into a broader strategy will include the tools you’ll need to engage with your people, and the touchpoints you’ll use to leverage your tactics. 

For example, If you wanted to use the recognition tactic you might leverage your frontline LMS as your tool to tie recognition directly back to the training and skills you want to encourage. Then you might leverage recognition badges to build out a recognition program. 

And when you’re ready to put your tactics to use, get our Employee Engagement Playbook for the ultimate field guide to engaging and enabling every single worker in your grocery organization, at any scale.

Paige Magarrey

Paige Magarrey is a writer, editor and content marketer obsessed with telling epic and informative stories about the frontline experience.

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