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HR & Benefits News: Start Creating A Modern Workplace Today

Chris Cooley, HR
Chris Cooley

HR & Benefits News is a monthly column by Chris Cooley, co-founder of MyHRConcierge and SMB Benefits Advisors

In late June, John Yerger, my business partner, and I attended  what some call “the best and the biggest HR conference in the world,” the 2019 Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference.  After our trip, we realized two things are crystal clear: creating a better workplace is key to building a competitive advantage and the time to act is NOW.

Inspiring new ideas

Out-of-the-box thinking from HR thought leaders during the conference left us energized and inspired. John and I recently sat down to pinpoint practical ideas independent grocers can use right now. Here are two great ideas we’re sharing with the independent grocers we serve:

  1. Upskill Now! Teach new skills to unlock the full potential of automated Intelligence (AI) & build a competitive advantage.
  2. Connect experienced leaders (also called “modern elders”) and younger workers to mentor each other.

Upskill now to build a competitive advantage

There’s no denying AI is in play in the grocery business. Customers use digital apps to make grocery lists and clip coupons. They’re ordering online or running into the store, scanning and bagging groceries and then leaving without interacting with a cashier, grocery clerk or bagger. However, rather than making human workers obsolete, AI paired with people is recognized by many experts as the only way to develop a sustainable competitive advantage for the future. It’s why the majority of CEOs—66 percent—see  upskilling their existing workforce a top 10 priority, according a study fielded by McKinsey & Co.  The vast majority believe they must retrain or replace more than 25 percent of their workforce by 2023 due to AI.

“Keeping people’s skills in sync with fast-changing markets is the biggest challenge of our time,” according to Kelly Palmer, 2019 SHRC Conference speaker and co-author of The Expertise Economy. Check out the 7 guiding principles to help organizations—small and big—develop skills crucial to their current and future success.

Building “a culture where learning is part of the overall strategy” is key for independent grocers to effectively compete with the big guys. We urge you to take the first steps now. Make current workers your starting point as you upskill them to take advantage of new technologies. Develop their technical aptitude along with their critical thinking and communication skills. Use this opportunity as a steppingstone to create a workplace where learning is “something that people love and want to do.” View this fun downloadable infographic (or see below) to shed some light on the past versus the present of HR.

Connect younger workers with ‘modern elders’

As technology reshapes our interactions, people long for small gestures of kindness—a smile, a hello—that remind us we’re human. Grocers struggle to get younger workers to smile at, greet or even acknowledge customers—all essential to a great customer experience.

Enter the “modern elder” and a new way to mentor to help grocers address the lack of people skills and other workforce challenges by connecting older and younger workers to learn from each other.

Chip Conely, 2019 SHRC conference speaker and  author of [email protected]: The Making of a Modern Elder and Change Maker, advises we use mutual mentoring to harness the peer power of five generations to shape the modern workplace and society. This approach has younger workers learning people skills, leadership and strategic thinking from “modern elders,” while sharing their own wisdom in technology, cultural issues and lifestyle changes.

Mutual mentoring can help grocers tackle a host of workforce challenges including labor shortages, recognizing age in the diversity equation and encouraging HR compliance among workers.

Chris Cooley and John Yerger are co-founders of MyHRConcierge and SMB Benefits Advisors. MyHRConcierge specializes in helping small to mid-sized grocers throughout the U.S. Contact Chris at 855-538-6947, ext. 108, or [email protected].

The Modern Mentality of HR graphic

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