ReThink Productivity Podcast

Insights from the Productivity Forum 2023 and beyond

September 24, 2023 Season 1 Episode 135
ReThink Productivity Podcast
Insights from the Productivity Forum 2023 and beyond
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

 Fresh off the heels of the stellar Productivity Forum 2023, we're bursting with insights and raring to go. We'll reflect on the forum's triumphs and introduce you to our latest gem: "Every Second Counts". It’s a treasure trove of advice, case studies, and context on everything productivity. Hold on to your seats, because we're also unveiling ReBudget, a game-changer in online labour budgeting. Plus, we'll chat about Saturdays reclaiming their crown as the prime shopping day and all the challenges this brings to recruitment and optimum productivity.

As we look forward to the Productivity Forum 2024, we'll share our vision and what it will take to make it an even more unforgettable experience. 

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Productivity Podcast. We're recovering from the Productivity Forum 2023, which was held at the time recording last week in Birmingham. Sue's back to say hello, hello, and we're going to reflect on the event, aren't?

Speaker 2:

we Sue.

Speaker 1:

We are, so over 100 people attend. I think it's biggest to date.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, biggest turnout today, yeah.

Speaker 1:

In various incarnations over the last kind of 10 years, if you take lockdown out of the way. A couple of interesting points before we get onto key themes. I know we talked about the book before, but that was the official launch, if you want to give people a bit more insight into the book.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it was official launch day, so everybody that was there got a copy to take away. Every second counts. It's called and it's about, obviously, productivity the books written in chapters, that each one is about the questions that we're most frequently asked. So it's not intended to be something that you start to read from front to back, but it's there as a resource to dip into. So each section will give some context about the challenge or issue that's being addressed, talk about different ways of tackling it, cover different case studies, so how other people have tackled it, and then finishes with some quick wins.

Speaker 1:

And if people who couldn't make the event want to get hold of a copy.

Speaker 2:

Well, they can either contact us, or it is on Amazon or it's about to be on Amazon very soon.

Speaker 1:

And there are two signed books floating around. Aren't there after people asked us to sign them on the day, which was a strange one, first one for me signing a book.

Speaker 2:

It's the first time we've released a book, so that's why.

Speaker 1:

Well, there you go. And then we told everybody about ReBudget, which is our plans to take our Excel based labour budget model, put that online and then do some really neat things with AI, machine learning to help be more predictive in lots of areas, as well as the kind of obvious how many hours, fts and costs do I need to run my shop, warehouse, restaurant by week but also some really cool and intuitive things around other areas. So that seems to generate a lot of debate and lots of conversation, which was great. I think it's probably worth calling out Andy Gray, who's scribed live, scribed the day, which people are amazed at. So for those of you that don't know or weren't there, andy basically has some big sheets of paper up and, as people are speaking, he's turning that into visual reminders of the conversation and the panels and the presentations that people did. I've seen it probably once before, but one. I haven't realised how hard those people work until I didn't realise how amazing it was. So, again, some really great feedback. There's some photos, online, mystery, remote address, the let's talk about key themes. So tricky day for us because we're busy, we're presenting, we're trying to pull things together and get people in the right place. So some of it feels like a bit of a blur, but I think one of the interesting things that came out of one of the early sessions was around Saturdays now being the key shopping day again. So, based on the fact we may all be working hybrid, working from home, we now go back out traditionally on a Saturday. So they made me think about kind of the times running shops, where that's probably when we had most of our part-timers, most of our students, most of our younger team members, so really reinforced, you know best when busiest. Have you got your best most experienced people at the times when your customers want them. That's Saturdays, closely followed by Sundays. Now.

Speaker 2:

And I think one of the other challenges that people talked about was the challenges of recruiting, and a lot of them were carrying vacancies and again, you know it's always a challenge when you're carrying vacancies. The pattern of those if those vacancies are all on your part-time is that falling on Saturday, you can end up with a disproportionately poor experience on Saturday, and we were joined again by Dan Will, who's always really insightful around what's happening with footfall. So she's from MRI footfall and she was talking about kind of conversion rates and how perhaps people aren't. One of the challenges for Saturdays is, yes, they're busy and then conversion rates drop.

Speaker 1:

And within that, I think there was some interesting insight around the fact that time of day as well. So we're kind of shopping slightly later. So it's about again placing those shifts in the right area, making sure you've done all the stop work wherever possible, all the all the algorithmic stuff I'll call it now that can be done and checked off at whatever time before you get the variability of kind of customers coming in with different requirements, different requests, and it linked to another presentation as well around trying to define contract hours. Yeah, and there was quite a bit of debate in one of the panels around how do you get to the sweet spot. We talked historically about people being driven to a more part-time, split over fall, split over full-timers. There's a reason why people are part-time and it's typically because they can't be flexible, can't be full-time parents, childcare, other job commitments and I suppose, a real recognition that nobody's got the right answer to what is the optimum contract 12, 14, 16, 15, 32, 39, 48 hours, what is it? And that? Maybe that's specific by organisation, maybe geography, maybe by type of, you know, generation you are, if you're a Gen Z or Gen Y or those other things again that we talked about on the day.

Speaker 2:

I think the reality is an individual worker's flexibility will be unique, won't it? So a lot of them will have multiple jobs, like I say, they might have different caring commitments and just different preferences for for how they want to work. So I think just thinking part-time equals super flexible is not the case anymore. If it ever was no.

Speaker 1:

I remember we were in a previous life pushed down a kind of 60-40 route of part-timers and, yes, we ended up with lots of heads, but we reality is probably didn't end up with any more flexibility, because it was the full-timers that do the extra or plug in the gaps, unless it was college holidays or you know, people, people, circumstances slightly changed.

Speaker 2:

And yet the challenge is, as you go back to Saturdays being the busier day, just having flat resourcing over the operating window doesn't work for most businesses because most of them have peaks in either customer demand or workload, and if you aren't able to flex at all, then actually it's always a challenge. I mean you get into debates about well, what work can you move out of busy periods and put it into quiet periods where you're talking Saturdays that are getting busier? You know in food businesses, then you know your peaks are always around you look main meal times. If you don't use any part-time, if you haven't got any part-time flexibility, it really does limit your ability to to meet demand effecting that all means you have to carry a lot of extra when you're quieter.

Speaker 1:

Yeah and shrink was clearly an emotive and hot topic for everybody, not necessarily a key theme in terms of the speakers and what we talked about, but certainly in all the breaks and the networking everybody was struggling with. You know how do you combat it? How do you stop becoming an organization that locks everything up and as a counter at the front? We know organizations that have historically worked like that, but how do you stop becoming one? Because it was such a challenge, along with recruitment, along with retention, along with the other rising costs around energy and rates and rent that that exist there. The big, I think, other story, which isn't new news at all, but was an interesting debate along the theme and threaded throughout the day in terms of theme, was around kind of marginal gains. So process variants, individuals doing things different ways, bringing new people into the business, and I think the turnover stats that I quoted was about 57%. So more than one in, more than one out of every two people that join a retail hospitality organisation over the last 12 months leaves within one year. How do you stop training in bad practice, how do you reduce process variants and how those little, little tweets can add up to the sum of a big benefit?

Speaker 2:

Yes, there was discussions about how you can take seconds off something that you do a lot and it can save millions, and the impact of when a business is scaled across a lot of sites. Then a small saving really adds up to a big number over time. But we then talked about the fact that when you make in these small changes, they can get outweighed by the fact by variance in how people are working. So if you just think about people putting stock on shelves, if you make that quicker and easier so for example, going to more, you know, straight to shelf packaging, so you're putting out outters. If the colleague does that by walking backwards and forwards, holding one box the length of an aisle, you could easily outweigh any benefit that you're getting first, as if they had the trolley closed down. Then we're working really efficiently. And that's some of the challenges. When we see we're currently measuring how long things take and where people have made process changes to see the impact of that process change, they can be outweighed by the fact that you get these variances in ways of working. As you say, we talked quite a lot in the sessions about people and communication and obviously getting through the messages of this is how we'd like you to do it this is the most efficient way is and doing that consistently. When you've got an ever changing workforce and probably working across multiple hours, so you haven't got the same management team in all the time, it's quite a big challenge.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I agree, and kind of all the key things throughout the day were around people, so taking people on the journey, not doing to them, making sure they've got the right support mechanisms, that the leaders are in the right place as well, that there's tools in place to reach those frontline workers or the people that are typically difficult to get to because of shifts, because of hours work per week. So that was a big theme as well, around how you get there and communicate with those people. Some real life stories as well that were shared, which were good.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think there's quite a few conversations about tools that will be used to free up leaders time so that they could focus more on that consistency of communication and being leaders rather than the admin person that's stuck in the back.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so lots to think about, lots to share, some great interaction on the day, great to see so many people. As Sue said, we've got a provisional date for next year, so we'll start to publish that on LinkedIn and socials. Let people register for the event and then we will follow up with confirmations as it starts to come through.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and I think all the sessions were all brilliant and actually there was some just as good conversations happened in the breaks and things. So, as always at our events, there's a real benefit for people out of networking. So you know, people always find that they're dealing with similar challenges. So whether they're in the same sort of industry but you know not direct competitors, whether even in different industries you know those challenges of managing marginal gains, getting your people in the right place, making sure you're doing it all in a way that means your team are engaged and committed to it, and delivering great experience for your customers is kind of a constant challenge everywhere.

Speaker 1:

Well, hard work starts now, preparing for next year and creating an agenda that's as good as, if not better. Yeah, good Court, please. Thanks to you.

Productivity Forum Reflections and Key Themes
Challenges of People and Communication

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