PepsiCo’s retention recipe starts with technology
In an employment landscape with a lot of turnover, in which people are leaving the workforce altogether and wage increases are failing to go as far as they once did with employees, PepsiCo has begun investing in technology and automation and operational changes to keep its workers happy, fulfilled and on-board. Steven Williams, CEO of PepsiCo North America, explained how in a keynote session at the 2023 NRF Big Show.
PepsiCo has found that process-streamlining technologies can help to remove friction in simple processes, which increase employee satisfaction and retention. For instance, updating handheld devices allows for ordering from the distribution center by scanning, rather than requiring employees to key in order information manually.
The company has also implemented technology to enable flexible scheduling, letting people work more hours per-day for four- or even three-day weeks instead of the traditional five-day a week schedule.
“I think it is very important that even in these traditional businesses, we figure out how to give employees what they’re asking for or they’re going to continue to quit,” said Mr. Williams.
In industrial settings, PepsiCo has found that taking steps to improve safety, such as when performing automating accident-prone tasks in the warehouse, can help improve the retention of warehouse workers.
With employees concerned about not just safety, but overall working conditions, the company has made a concerted effort to improve all of its facilities. This includes non-frontline/office environments like distribution centers, which once tended to be overlooked as places in need of amenities for employees.
“Guess what, [distribution centers] need break rooms,” said Mr. Williams. “They need places to gather.”
And the company has launched initiatives to give employees more recognition and encourage a focus on mental health. The latter has included bringing in a psychologist for sessions to discuss the importance of getting help if necessary.
“I used to think, I want to keep my employees safe, go to work and come home like they came in,” said Mr. Williams. “That’s not enough anymore. You have to do that and be concerned with their overall well being … People are different today than they were three years ago.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What processes do you see companies streamlining with technology to make for better employee experiences? What other non-pay improvements play the biggest role in retention?