There is no question that franchise businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. From dealing with supply chain obstacles to enduring cash flow problems and labor shortages, franchisees have been on the front line of this economic roller coaster and have been met with the continuing challenge of attracting and retaining employees. Understanding the changes in the workplace brought on by the pandemic is essential to running one’s business successfully. The following four trends are shaping the franchise workforce in 2022 and can help franchisees stay proactive in the current climate.
People & Purpose Will Drive Workplace Culture
The pandemic has caused many workers to question the type of work they want and where they want to do it. Businesses that interact face-to-face with customers, as do hospitality and retail ventures, have struggled the most in this tight labor market. One question that rests heavy on many owners’ minds is what do workers want today and how can franchise owners meet those needs and expectations? In one word: purpose.
According to ADP Research Institute’s (ADPRI) “People at Work: A Global Workforce View” study, optimism around job security fell to 86 percent from 92 percent pre-COVID. Uncertainty about health and safety as well as the effect of new variants has made workers seek employers who provide more than just a paycheck.
Organizational culture has a vital role to play in influencing an employee’s purpose. Another studyby ADPRI found that U.S. workers who feel they are strongly connected to their employer are 75 times more likely to be fully engaged than those who do not feel connected - in other words, feeling seen, heard or valued. Connection is also about belonging and trust. ADPRI’s research found those who trust both their teammates and their team leader are seven times more likely to feel strongly connected to their organization. Not surprisingly, employees that feel connected are less likely to leave.
Due to the tight labor market, workers have more options, and they are choosing companies that offer a genuine connection and a positive working environment. ADPRIfound that highly competent employees who love what they do are eight times more likely to be strongly connected compared to those who dislike their current role. In addition, those who love their work are four times more likely to stay with their organization. To attract this emerging workforce, franchise owners need to emphasize what makes them different from other employers. It’s important for franchisees to ask themselves: “does my business express a positive environment to work at with a strong team culture where each employee feels valued? Do I offer flexible scheduling that recognizes the other priorities in my workers’ lives, like family and other non-work activities?” In short, the goal is to find out what is meaningful to the talent you seek and find a way to pragmatically provide it. For example, many franchise owners are offering early access to earned wages (“work today, get paid today”), discounts and memberships.
Reliable Data & Expertise Will Power Resiliency
An ADP survey found nearly 20 percent of U.S. companies with 25 to 99 employees express they are currently facing challenges with compliance and regulatory issues, which will most likely continue as local and national governments adapt to the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. To navigate these conditions, franchise owners will need to rely more heavily on real-time data to tackle compliance proactively and guide decision-making.
Because franchise owners don’t always have the time or appropriate resources, they need convenient and cost-effective tools that can help them manage human resources issues like these, such as software that provides templates for employee handbooks, non-discriminatory policies and necessary employment forms that automatically update with changes in the law. These technologies can also provide insights to help manage the business better, like gaining access to trends in payroll, time and attendance and turnover. Being able to compare one’s business data against local and national benchmarks can also enable one to be more competitive in the current labor market.
Greater Innovation Will Accelerate Growth
To meet the demands of this new economy and grow their businesses, franchise owners need to automate HR tasks. Technical innovation in how employees access essential HR tools like timekeeping and access to benefits will save time and provide peace of mind. Mobile solutions, for instance, allow employees to “clock in” no matter where they are working and also enable real time communication with shift workers which gives business owners staffing flexibility. This technology also encourages self-service so employees can access their personal hours, pay, benefit information and more all from their smartphone or tablet.
There are also hundreds of applications available that can integrate with one’s HCM system and add functionality, such as software for recruiting and hiring, performing background checks and onboarding new employees. There are even applications that offer free COVID-19 testing and access to medical professionals for physical, mental and behavioral health issues.
Visibility Will Be Redefined
One trend that will continue to impact franchises and the workplace in general in 2022 is employee mobility and visibility. During the pandemic, many workers chose to relocate. According to ADPRI, in the past year, three quarters of the global workforce made changes or planned to change how or where they live, with that percentage even greater (85 percent) among Generation Z, workers in their late teens and early twenties. This increasingly more mobile workforce is willing to change locations if the job is right, and, with virtual interviews, franchise owners can reach this new workforce.
Employee visibility has changed as well. With concerns about health, safety and family caregiving responsibilities, more people want to work remotely. While not all franchises can accommodate this, it’s important to keep it in mind and be flexible about how and where work gets done.
About the Author
Neema Ardebili has been with ADP for 14 years, co-leads the ADP Franchise Advisory Board and has expertise in a multitude of important topics related to industry HR best practices.