Where Have We Gone Wrong in Retail Recruiting?

The Canadian retail industry comprised of more than 2 million jobs in 2018, according to Statistics Canada. Yet despite having a high number of open positions, employee turnover continues to be an issue.

According to data from LinkedIn, the retail sector has the second-highest talent turnover rate (13%), trailing only the software industry (13.2%).

In addition, many retailers have been reporting staff shortages. A recent survey from IDC and Telus found that 47% of retail respondents report facing a skills shortage.

A 2018 survey from BDC found that in the retail trade, only 22% of respondents said it was “east to hire” new employees in the past 12 months. However, 54% — more than half of the respondents — said it was “difficult to hire.” 24% said it was “neither easy nor difficult.”

All that said – where are we going wrong in retail recruiting?

Top Retail Recruiting Challenges

1. Hire better managers

There’s an old saying that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. While that saying may not be entirely accurate, it does present an important point: the people we work with play a big role in our job satisfaction.

According to Gallup, 70% of a team’s engagement depends on the manager. In a study of 7,272 U.S. adults, Gallup found that nearly 50% had left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.

This can also trace back to hiring for “soft” skills (more on this in #4). While it’s important for managers to have organizational skills, they also need to have empathy and understand the people they are working with.

Some of these skills can also be trained, such as helping managers avoid micromanagement, overly harsh criticism, and other traits that send good employees packing.

2. Focus on creating a consistent hiring process

Having a strong, consistent hiring process can go a long way, however, this is particularly challenging for retail, especially when hiring across multiple stores. What do candidates need to provide with their application? Do you perform background checks — for example, credit checks for cash-handling positions or reference checks?

In some cases, the responsibility falls on the store manager — who may not be trained as a recruiter. In others, the store manager isn’t even involved, so they may not have as much investment in the choice.

Finding a balance between efficiency and personal touch is critical here.

A good hiring process can not only help you find better employees, but it can also allow you to reduce the turnover of existing staff by limiting (or avoiding altogether) bad hires.

The cost of a bad hire is much more than just the time it takes to recruit and onboard a new employee. A bad hire can have an insidious effect on your customers and employees, especially if the problem is not dealt with soon enough.

And unfortunately, it often takes far too long for hiring managers to address performance issues. Robert Half reported that it took 44% of hiring managers less than a month to realize they had made a bad hiring decision, but it took an average of 16 weeks to let the person go.

3. Create a good culture

We can’t talk about recruitment and employee turnover without talking about the working culture — including competitive wages, benefits, consistent scheduling, and so on.

Studies show that these incentives can go a long way to keeping employees – especially when opportunities are abundant in other industries.

Yet, culture doesn’t only relate to pay and benefits. As the workforce becomes more educated than ever, we need to look at the type of roles we are offering — and find ways to make them more meaningful.

According to Harvard Business Review, from the end of the Second World War through the 1970s, corporations filled the majority of their vacancies (90%) through promotions and lateral assignments. Today, however, that is only happening with about a third of positions — or less. Having a clear career trajectory and opportunity for advancement can be a big engagement and retention driver.

According to Retail Next, ownership and autonomy are also increasingly important for job satisfaction. While some decisions might have to come from the head office, it can help to give employees at individual stores the chance to contribute ideas and innovate within their own store.

4. Hire for “soft” skills

With regards to skill shortages, many employers in the retail industry are saying that recruits don’t have the skills necessary, especially as automation increases.

However, more and more research is showing that it can be beneficial to hire for attitude vs. skills.

The LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report for 2020 reported that soft skills, such as empathy, openness to learning, and adaptability, can predict a person’s success more than their hard skills.

These people skills can be hard to gauge from a resumé (especially if you are using an applicant tracking system that is keyword-based) — which is why a good hiring process is essential.

5. Don’t skip training/onboarding – and make it ongoing

Recruitment doesn’t end once an employee is hired. It’s also the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the new hire recruit is trained properly. But too often this step is skipped or passed on to other employees without communication.

A strong onboarding process benefits both the company and the recruit as it sets expectations for the role, makes sure the necessary knowledge is imparted, and helps flag performance issues early — and potentially address them.

Research from Glassdoor found that companies with a strong onboarding process improve retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. Conversely, businesses with a weak onboarding program are more likely to lose these individuals within the first year.

Training also shouldn’t stop at the hiring stage. Ongoing professional development can teach employees valuable skills, shore up problem areas, and provide more meaning and opportunities for your people.

If retail recruiting continues to be a challenge, why not consider boosting your warehouse or in-store staff support with outside help? Storesupport Canada has field teams across the country that can help shore up staff shortages.

Get in touch today to learn more about our people support. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit www.storesupport.ca.

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