How Do We Solve Retail’s Staff Shortages?
8 October 2021
Author: Jasmine Waters
Whether you’re a recruiter, employee or merely an outsider looking in, it’s not a surprise that the retail industry is in a spot of bother when it comes to finding new seasonal hires. Like many others, a large portion of retail employees were made redundant throughout the pandemic, which some members of staff now refer to as the “Great Resignation”. The UK is continuing to see product shortages across the country, and the additional concern of retail shortages is a worry for the upcoming festive season. Can staff shortages be solved, and how can we plan ahead?
What do staff shortages look like?
If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that brands need to understand if there’s any reason applicants are actively avoiding them—and nip it in the bud as soon as they can. We know there are plenty of potential employees out there, but many don’t want to compromise on positions that are gruelling and low in pay. Retail job applications are increasingly rejected, many of them highlighting an urgency in their description as seasonal staff are in hot demand. Some brands are deciding to offer attractive financial benefits, although they arguably need to go beyond that. Applicants are continuing to prioritise money, alongside a sense of flexibility, quality time with family and career development. As a result, brands must shift their perceptions of their own workforce.
Can brands make up for lost time?
We’re all aware of the continued low margins in fashion retail’s history, often resulting in traditionally low pay for sales workers. But how do brands reframe this is staff shortages continue? There’s a possibility to hire fewer members of staff that receive high pay and more training. New tasks for sales workers could include livestreaming product demos, and virtual try-ons. There’s a need to be crafty about what the role of the sales associate looks like, in order to entice more people to apply. Additionally, there needs to be a balance between new tasks and overload. Focus on upskilling could be a way to mitigate this, as employers feel a greater pressure to provide more opportunities.
In essence, it’s about remaining human. When it comes to seasonal working, employees don’t want to be treated as though they exist solely for the brand itself. It only takes one negative experience for someone to document it on social media. A great way to entice more applicants is for them to hear about positive employee experiences during the last 2 years. A brand looking to have its focus on the human experience of working will be a successful one.
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