How Grocery Retailers Can Keep QA Teams Engaged and Retain Employees
December 12, 2022
Your buyers, category managers, and quality inspectors are an invaluable part of your team. Given the current labor challenges in the food industry, it’s critical to retain these employees. While we are hearing feedback from the industry that these Quality Assurance (QA) roles are relatively stable compared to other staff, it’s important to focus on increasing engagement to ensure long-term stability.
Here are 5 strategies to boost your QA team’s engagement and retention.
Take another look at your training program
Your training program is the foundation of employee retention since it determines whether your team is equipped to succeed. When employees feel they are doing their job well and have the resources they need to succeed, they are more likely to stay and grow with your organization.
- Is our training comprehensive enough? What gaps in knowledge do we have?
- Is the training interactive and “hands-on” enough? Does it give our employees a real sense of what the job requires?
- Do we offer our newer employees mentoring opportunities with veteran employees to pass on deeper industry knowledge?
- Do we have the right tools to help our employees ramp up quickly?
Don’t neglect the training needs of veteran employees either. Offer continuous education and training opportunities to keep everyone’s skills sharp.
Make your employees aware of career advancement opportunities
When employees see growth potential in your organization, they’ll be motivated to stay with you long term. Prioritize internal promotions before hiring externally. And as we mentioned above, keep your employees’ skills sharp with the right training opportunities so they’re ready when a new position opens up.
Many inspectors view their role as a stepping stone to a buyer or category manager position. Make sure you’re passing along the knowledge they need to advance their careers. For example, show them how the data they capture is used by buyers and category managers to guide sourcing, quality specs, and other decisions. This will help them understand the value of their work and expose them to other QA roles.
At the same time, focus on getting new inspectors up to speed quickly by improving your onboarding process. This will help keep your QA talent pipeline full.
Boost employee confidence
Provide them with the right tools for success
Rejections are the hardest aspect of a quality inspector’s role. New inspectors are intimidated by the possibility of a supplier requesting a USDA inspection. They may hesitate to reject anything until they feel more comfortable in their skills. You can boost their confidence by giving them the tools they need to do their jobs well. Let them know you’ll back up their decision if a supplier chooses to contest it.
What does “backing your employees up” look like on a day-to-day basis? It starts with the right resources. New employees find it hard to rely on their own knowledge when deciding if they should accept or reject a shipment. Take some of that pressure off by providing a resource library. This could include a copy of your quality specs, images of defects, and images of past “accepted” and “rejected” shipments.
Standardize Processes Where You Can
It also helps to standardize inspection processes across all DCs. This ensures your inspectors are on the same page with your quality specs and understand what should be accepted versus what should be rejected. Most importantly, ensure your inspectors capture and retain the right data so they have evidence of defects. It’s ideal to record inspection data in a digital format, rather than filing it away in a binder where it’s not easily accessible. Encourage (or even require) inspectors to document defects with photos.
iFoodDS helps inspectors gain confidence with our Quality Insights solution. Record quality metrics digitally in the mobile app and get instant recommendations on whether to accept, reject, or accept with issues.
Foster a sense of belonging
Employees want to feel a sense of belonging in their roles. Collaboration is key. Think about ways you can encourage your team to work together cohesively – for example:
- Help inspectors work together to complete inspections by providing digital collaboration tools. While paper is commonly used in the inspection process, it limits the ability to see which inspections have been completed and the results of those inspections.
- Provide clear communication channels that allow category managers and buyers to convey important trends – e.g., weather events that may impact quality from certain locations, or certain suppliers/commodities that have had issues in the past and need to be watched more carefully for defects.
- Promote transparency by making quality data visible across your organization. Provide quality analytics and reports to highlight key trends.
Empower your employees to make a difference in their roles
Ultimately, boosting engagement is a matter of helping your employees make a difference. Category managers and buyers are in a unique position to guide quality inspectors by watching larger trends, such as weather events or suppliers who have been consistently underperforming. Inspectors are the “boots on the ground” gathering data that can be shared with buyers to help inform future sourcing decisions. These different roles naturally feed into each other. Ask yourself if you’re enabling this to happen or inadvertently putting up obstacles.
- Do you make it easy for inspectors to capture quality data and document defects?
- Do you provide clear communication channels between the DCs and the stores?
- Does your QA team have full visibility into quality data and trends?
- Are your inspectors spending more time in an office doing paperwork than on the floor inspecting?
Inspections done on paper have their limitations. When you use a digital quality inspection solution, the data is made visible across your organization. Buyers and category managers can instantly alert inspectors to emerging trends and ask them to pay more attention to certain commodities or suppliers that may pose an issue.
iFoodDS helps retailers and their QA staff gain more insights from the quality data they collect.
Our Quality Insights solution is more than an inspection app. It enables your buyers to improve sourcing decisions and strengthen supplier relationships. This helps your category managers improve overall selection, quality, and freshness in your fresh food departments. Let’s have a conversation about how Quality Insights can transform the quality in your stores.