This week we released the results of the 2016 Supermarket Department Manager Survey, conducted in partnership with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Harold Lloyd Presents.

This first-ever industry study of the men and women who really make our stores run had a number of eye-opening findings. Please contact us for a full copy of the report.

Among the key survey findings is that respondents largely disagree that “Our department receives enough labor hours to effectively complete our work and serve the customers.” The fresh departments, led by bakery and meat, disagreed the most with this statement. In other words, one of a few things is happening, or they are occurring in combination:

We are missing sales opportunities, with department staff unavailable to assist customers when they need it. Supermarkets should be using people to differentiate from price-impact formats and certainly from online grocery alternatives.

Guests are not as satisfied as they could be with our in-store service. our research on customer satisfaction by day part suggests that during peak selling times – weekends and weekdays in the late afternoon/ early evening – guests are not receiving the service they desire.

We are overworking our department managers and their staff, fostering an environment of stress and potentially of low job satisfaction.
Some tasks are not being accomplished fully or at all, impacting how our departments look and/or operate.

Department managers are clearly feeling the friction between managing their expenses and meeting the needs of their customers. On the survey when asked (in open-ended fashion) about the biggest challenge they face in doing their jobs effectively, “not enough time/hours” and “tighter payroll/labor budgets” were among the top responses.

Much has been said about the need for retailers to view employees as assets rather than as expenses. The business case in today’s environment could not be more clear-cut. Now we have another set of data to challenge the way we currently operate and underscore a critical opportunity for the industry.

To read an article about this study in the October 2016 issue of Progressive Grocer Independent, click here: Department Managers Speak

Written by Doug Madenberg, Principal, The Feedback Group