With 2015 fast approaching, the retail industry will soon have a moment to catch its collective breath as the holiday shopping season comes to a close. One area that will continue to be a major priority for retailers in the New Year is providing a memorable in-store experience for customers.

Retailers have a tendency to forget the most important factor when it comes to customer experience: their employees. In reality, the success of an organization is dependent on face-to-face customer engagement and that engagement improves drastically for organizations that make the effort to create an employee-centric workplace. Sure, senior executives need to make smart business decisions, but it’s the associates and store managers who drive the engine of the business. The right investment in HR technology can boost employee morale and have a direct positive impact on customer service. This is especially important in the retail space, where employee turnover rates are high. How can retailers develop, retain and actively engage their best employees, while automating HR practices that are beneficial to them?

Think about your target employee: Millennials

The tech-savvy millennial is the new face of the retail workforce. Typically born between 1981 and 1996, millennials are set to become the largest generation in the workforce in 2015, yet hiring managers say it’s increasingly difficult to find and retain them. Recruiting millennials is critical, as this group possesses the emerging technology skills companies need to remain agile, innovative and fresh against competition.

Whether they understand millennials or not, retailers must develop strategies to keep their star employees engaged. This new generation of employees wants scheduling and task optimization tools that empower them via their personal mobile devices, and deploying these tools will be essential for driving employee satisfaction and performance. Mobile equals flexible, efficient and convenient, and ultimately that’s what millennials crave.

Generational differences aren’t an excuse: Build motivation by embracing technology

By recognizing these new expectations, employers are one step closer to eliminating disjoints in thinking between managers and employees. Despite all the sociological hand-wringing declaring millennials to be a “Me Generation,” they are quite misunderstood—much like the managers who hire them often misunderstand the best way to utilize technology in the workplace. This new workforce is confident and fully plugged-in, and retail management strategies must embrace new devices, applications and social networks, like instant messaging and Skype, to ensure once manually-performed processes are integrated with these associates’ way of life.

A study by Elance-oDesk & Millennial Branding found that 39 percent of millennials have had difficulty in finding a job, while 53 percent of hiring managers have had difficulty in recruiting millennials. The irony can be resolved, but it comes down to flexibility—not just in how retailers schedule employees, but in using technology to keep their workforce inspired. There is no need to reinvent the wheel—traditional business hierarchies and organizational models aren’t the problem, but they should be refined with a more rounded egalitarian approach. Show your employees that their happiness matters and their lives beyond the sales floor are important. If you want this generation of employees to feel engaged, they need to feel as though they have a voice. The right technologies – used the right ways – can give them just that.

Millennials aren’t selfish – they’re a generation of native technologists who inherently possess certain skillsets that previous generations must learn and integrate. Not investing in these technologies not only inhibits your workforce, it is a disservice to your customers and a threat to your company’s long-term success.

Encouraging work-life balance: A new era of influencer work scheduling

With work and life now so intertwined, some view work-life balance as a red herring. As one of the most significant drivers of employee retention, and a primary reason millennials may choose a nontraditional professional career track, work-life balance isn’t code for avoiding long hours. Rather, it means fostering an organization that encourages collaboration, provides flexible working environments and gives exciting growth opportunities to employees. By giving employees more control over their schedules, employers are creating an environment where the personal needs of the workforce are heard and can be easily met. A study conducted by the Intelligence Group found that millennial employees were so keen on flexible work that they were willing to give up pay and delay promotions to achieve it.

Collaborative scheduling is an opportunity for retailers to shift the scheduling dichotomy, creating new processes that meet employees’ evolving needs and giving them a sense of empowerment. Collaborative smart scheduling management tools enable employees to have control over when they work, and features like shift swapping and bidding for shifts via employees’ mobile devices helps to streamline the scheduling process, benefitting both the retailer and employees.

As technology evolves year after year, so should HR. Creating actionable plans on how to draw and retain the best from the competitive talent pool is only part of the balancing act. Employers must meet the expectations of millennials while being careful to avoid alienating older employees as they break down the technological barriers that stand between. This cross-generational workforce is an opportunity to learn, integrate and shake up traditional workplace HR functionalities to ensure they create an environment that honors employees. It will be crucial to identify how to nurture your employees’ strengths and strategically explore how your organization will flourish in 2015.