When it comes to workforce management, many retail and hospitality organisations struggle with functional silos across Finance, HR, Payroll, IR and Operations. Additionally, distributed work teams across Head Office, retail stores and independent franchise owners, the silos and complexities span geographically and motivationally.

Importantly, all these functions need to work together to achieve common enterprise and revenue goals. Without continuous communication and collaboration, it’s easy for each function to operate in isolation and fall out of alignment — especially when business processes or requirements change. When silo-driven breakdowns occur, it becomes increasingly risky to keep the business on track – especially when delivering mission-critical projects such as payroll transformation or retail POS overhaul.

Functional silos existed prior to the pandemic. However, it has since accelerated and increased since COVID-19 hit our shores – retail and hospitality companies have been forced to pivot operations, shutting stores and offering take-away or online sales. Team alignment here has never been more critical.

So how do these functional silos begin?

Workforce management involves many areas of the organisation across retail and hospitality. Some of Australia’s largest hospitality chains have over 40,000 employees that need to be looked after (see our latest case study here). Finance manages labour budgets based on revenue, forecasting and established Fair Work Awards models. Human Resources defines policies and enforces compliance with labour laws and regulations. Payroll calculates and processes employee paychecks, including complex payment models, legislations and requirements (ie. Overtime and child support payments). IT configures the workforce management, payroll, HRIS and people technology to meet specific business requirements. Operations forecasts, schedules, and deploys labour to consistently meet service levels. While this division of responsibilities may be straightforward, finding a way for these groups to work together seamlessly can be complicated.

All these functions are interconnected, so if changes happen in isolation or during a global pandemic, it can get out of control very quickly. With so many cross-functional interdependencies, there needs to be an established protocol for communicating changes and their impact across the workforce management process. For example, if a major food chain has to adjust the hours of operation at store locations, then each function needs to be aware to ensure staff payment, rostering, scheduling and forecasting is kept in check.

Retail and hospitality companies have had to adapt quickly in response to coronavirus. A shift to online ordering, contactless delivery and take-away only models have been taken up quickly while dealing with occupancy restrictions, social distancing mandates, and expanded cleaning routines. All of these require input from the workforce management functions which need to be aligned and in lockstep to ensure seamless transition.

So, if you’re working for a large retailer or hospitality organisation and experiencing some functional silos – here are my three best practices to break them down:

Create a workforce management champion team that includes key stakeholders from each function. Through regularly scheduled meetings, ongoing governance and collaboration, this team fosters consistent awareness and communication among functions, so nothing falls through the cracks. They are also then responsible for communicating changes to respective members of their teams to ensure it scales across divisions and locations.

Build a model that designates roles in the communication process – similar to the RACI model. RACI builds out a communication matrix of who owns the outcome (Accountable), who is doing the actual work (Responsible), who needs to be consulted (Consulted) and who needs to know (Informed). A RACI model is at the heart of good communication, which is also facilitated by communication technology such as news updates, Slack channels and highly visible Kanban boards of progress.

Lastly, have visible workforce management processes — from budgeting to execution to analysis — updated and analysed every week in an almost “war room” format will allow your team to gain an understanding of the wider functions at play. Every step is clearly documented, so it’s easier to spot bottlenecks or risks to business operations. This will also give you access to see where performance and process can be improved in the future for competitive gain.

Are silos getting in the way of moving your business forward? AgileXperts offers agile methodology and project rescue expertise to break down barriers in your workforce management systems. From people, process and technology, we cover the entire spectrum of complex enterprise people management processes. Let us know if we can help!

Businesses can email contactus@payrollexpertsaustralia.com.au or call 1300 287 213 for free first-step advice on how to ensure your Payroll processes can safeguard your Payroll compliance. Follow us on LinkedIn or sign up here to receive our articles direct to your email inbox.