Blue Yonder is committed to helping its customers face the unexpected. To provide insights into the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on supply chains around the world, we are delivering a blog series to help anyone looking for support and advice. Our experts, who have spent years in the supply chain industry, share their insights. 

Organizations have been battling store closures, panic buying and much more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Managing employees’ safety and health, stock levels, supply chain disruption, store recovery, and customer service during this crisis has become a herculean task. Many organizations have had to close their doors either by choice or by regulations. This will have both an immediate and longer-term impact.

Challenges like this call for new ways of thinking and actions. Here are some suggestions to help you manage and support your staff while operations are disrupted:

  • Engage, train and retain 
    • Recognize the heroes and think about creating a wall of fame
    • Use video conferencing to connect with all levels of the organization
    • Work on improving associates’ skills and product awareness
    • Talk about new products or promotions that will be introduced upon reopening 
  • Communicate… communicate… communicate
    • If you have an internal website, update it often to keep employees engaged and aware of changes
    • Run a town hall meeting for all associates
    • Poll your staff for suggestions on process improvements 
    • Use this as an opportunity to strengthen your company’s culture
  • Practice self-care
    • Encourage associates to maximize their at-home breaks with positive activities like baking, yoga or purging clutter
    • Take time before each meeting for a coffee/tea break and some casual, non-work-related conversations
    • Keep spirits high by urging teams to share how their creatively maximizing extra time with fun videos or pictures

Customer routines are changing as we self-quarantine to avoid infection and transmission.  Organizations are struggling with supply chain disruptions and unprecedented changes in market demand that are impacting when and where labor is needed. At the same time, organizations are having to implement new remote working policies for the first time for traditional on-premise roles. A deliberate strategic approach must be taken to manage the workforce and plan. Preparing now is critical because your business could be affected by COVID-19 for a long time to come.  As long-time industry experts, here are some workforce management considerations to help you navigate and plan for your organization during this unprecedented crisis:

  1. Use dynamic forecasting that drives demand, so the right location has the right associate scheduled at the right time, doing the right thing with the right skill. 
  2. Start thinking about format changes including dark stores.  This will benefit your community and associates
  3. Consider local trends when planning labor demand.  Different locations will have different needs.
  4. Consider new client shopping trends and expectations to ensure accurate prep and demand coverage.
  5. Maximize shift coverage by sharing associates across locations with shift marketplace to drive optimum coverage while meeting the needs of the individual associate.

Allow associates to leverage their mobile devices to update availability, location and work preferences in real-time and do electronic call-offs. To overcome the challenges of a changing competitive landscape while creating a sustainable competitive advantage for your organization and turn this crisis into an opportunity seek out industry experts who can help you adapt and rebound.

Know that we are committed to supporting your business and helping you navigate through these uncertain times. Learn more here.  

Stay tuned for our second installment in this blog series where we discuss demand, forecasting and scheduling during times of crisis. 

We are all in this together.

Marty Reynolds, Lindsay Eavenson, Julie Hunt, Vikas Porwal