Future of work: 3 questions digital commerce leaders should be asking

Some are attributing The Great Resignation (or colloquially, The Great Quit) to the 15+ month break from a traditional work lifestyle that allowed people rethink their priorities, but it’s so much more than that. As NPR reported, four million people quit their jobs in April alone, “in search of more money, more flexibility, and more happiness.”

Leaving a job in pursuit of greater compensation makes sense, particularly for the 740,000 people who were in the hospitality industry and were looking for better pay and a safer work environment. The same goes for those who were in a job that wasn’t a good fit – either due to the nature of their role or the inflexibility of their hours – but were waiting out the worst of the pandemic before they gave notice. 

And happiness? We can’t argue with that; if there is one thing the at-home orders gave us, it was time. Time to examine what is truly important and what makes us happy. Whether it means a career transition to a mission-driven industry with positive impact, or to a company where you feel heard and a culture that fits your values, or a job where it is possible to be part-time, so you can spend more time with family… these were all valid, and even encouraging, drivers of change. 

There is a reason, though, that more than half of the 31,000 workers Microsoft surveyed in March 2021 gave for considering quitting their jobs, and it was burnout. Some 54% said they are overworked, and 39% are downright exhausted.  

In our fast-paced world of digital commerce, those numbers might even be higher. In a recent survey, 4 in 10 respondents said they were “overwhelmed by the pace and quantity of work.” And these aren’t advertising or operations managers at quickly scaling DTCs. These are ecommerce professionals at large companies, with annual revenue of more than $100M. 

So as you consider “the future of work” at your own organization, consider asking yourself – and your leadership team – these questions:

Which tools & training are we giving employees to work smarter, not harder?

These same professionals we surveyed are also struggling with the rapidly changing environment of ecommerce with a majority admitting that “constant change” is a challenge, from accurately forecasting sales in changing market conditions to keeping up with performance and understanding how the business is performing in real-time. 

Without the right tools and technology in place to not just report on these changing variables, but to aid in decision-making via a combination of data science advances and automation, it’s no wonder these employees feel overwhelmed and overworked. There is simply too much data, too quickly, for any human to keep up – let alone get ahead of it. During COVID, many organizations invested in technology to empower their ecommerce teams. Did you?

Are we creating the right organizational structure to support modern business outcomes?

Just as the strategies and systems of brick-and-mortar commerce didn’t translate directly into the world of ecommerce, the new world of work requires an entirely different approach. If you haven’t seen our Co-Founder and CEO Paul Palmieri’s essay on the first principles approach to ecommerce, go read it on DigitalCommerce360

In it, he talks about the need to take things apart and test assumptions in order to truly innovate. In retail organizations, the traditional structure was functions like marketing, finance, supply chain, inventory management, etc. all in their own departments. A digital commerce organization, however, should operate as a unified hub that has clear business outcomes and cross-functional support.

How are we fostering an environment of connection and transparency?

While easier said than done, organizations have many ways to prove their commitment toward creating a more equitable workplace that retains employees, writes a recruiter at Career Club for Entrepreneur. While she was referring to the power of listening and taking action on employee recommendations and requests, in the digital commerce space there is also the creation of transparency in the value chain. 

That is, when data silos are broken down and a CFO, for instance, can quickly see the impact of the removal of a digital marketing bid ceiling on a particular SKU that increases profits by 24% that month, you bet they are going to commend that digital marketing manager. Vice versa, as well. Employees who are directly connected to the outcome of the business and can see the impact of their work on the bottom line are more likely to stay, as they are invested and can see the valuable part they played in the end result. 

At Tradeswell, we are committed to asking ourselves these same questions! Learn more about our team and values here.

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