The Communication Breakdown in Retail and The Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel - how does it relate to a communication breakdown in retail

Found in the Book of Genesis, the story of the Tower of Babel, tells how the people of the world once spoke the same language. They worked together to build a tower that would reach the heavens. Just like with a communication breakdown in retail, God saw ambition as unappreciative and disorganized their language so that they could no longer understand each other. The tower was thus never completed.

This ancient tale resonates with many modern situations where communication breakdowns lead to misunderstandings, conflict, or missed training opportunities. In the retail industry, where businesses rely on effective training to stay competitive, a lack of direct channels between headquarters, line managers, and employees can lead to problems.

“If you’re successful in delivering eLearning, the learner won’t even be (nor should they feel the need to be) focused on the “e” part, they’ll just be focused on how awesome the “Learning” part is.”

Keith Phillips

One of the main issues research has shown is the difficulty of providing information or news to front-line employees. More importantly, training these deskless workers, who make up the majority of the retail workforce. These pa team members, who spend most of their time on their feet, often feel disconnected from the rest of the organization. They may have limited opportunities to develop their skills or communicate their feedback to management.

Retail Pain points

One of the main issues is the difficulty of providing information to front-line employees. This can arise from a communication breakdown in retail. More importantly, train these deskless workers, who make up the majority of the retail workforce. These particular team members, who spend most of their time on their feet, often feel disconnected from the organization. They may have limited opportunities to develop their skills or communicate their feedback to management.

Moreover, often front line-managers feel burnt out with having to keep on top of employee training or multiple product updates. Sometimes they may not have the necessary technological tools to follow up and track data.

As a result, retailers may miss out on valuable, knowledgeable team members, that would help improve their sales or customer experience. Employees could also miss out on career advancement or skills development. For example, a stockroom worker may have multiple health and safety regulations to comply with. They may need refreshing or updating regularly. Or a new product could be coming onto the market and be required to inform the whole team in many different franchises. A communication breakdown in retail occurs since without the necessary tools to communicate, train and develop, all this information simply gets lost and the team members are left feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated.

Furthermore, when deskless employees do not feel valued they may become disengaged. This could lead to higher turnover, low morale, and poor performance. Potentially damaging for retailers, who rely on frontline employees to deliver the brand promise and create memorable customer experiences. With better ability to monitor feedback and track training data, the frontline employees feel a closer connection to the product, ultimately developing a stronger passion for driving sales.

Utilizing Technology

When retailers decide to prioritize development, communication, and feedback, they foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and continuous learning. By leveraging technology tools such as mobile apps, or training platforms (or an all-in-one platform like Enabley) retailers can create channels for two-way communication.  This enables employees to learn or develop their skills and contribute feedback in real-time.

For example, a retailer could use a learning platform to share training materials with deskless employees and encourage them to respond with their questions or suggestions. The platform could include gamification elements to incentivize participation and recognize outstanding efforts and contributions.

Retailers can additionally use data analytics and artificial intelligence to analyze training data and identify patterns or opportunities for improvement. This will also help retailers make data-driven decisions that align with the needs and preferences of their customers and employees.

So while the Tower of Babel story reminds us of the importance of communication and understanding in any organization, by breaking down language barriers and creating channels for feedback and collaboration, retailers can overcome communication challenges and unlock the potential of their deskless workforce. By doing so, they can build a tower of excellence that reaches the sky.

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