Tom McGee’s latest article in Forbes, “In Strong Retail Economy And Tight Labor Market, Retailers Tout Incentives,” highlights the challenges retailers face attracting and retaining top talent.
With job gains on the rise for the last 91 consecutive months, and unemployment at its lowest point since 2000, hiring competition is stiff. Younger workers, traditionally the core demographic for entry-level retail jobs, are getting snapped up by other sectors. McGee reports that the percent of teens working in health services has doubled over the last 20 years, and “increasingly, manufacturing firms, technology companies and other businesses are snapping up pools of younger workers.”
To recruit and retain talent, large retailers are sweetening both pay and benefits. In addition to upping its starting hourly wage to $11 an hour, Walmart has increased paid maternity leave from 6 to 10 weeks and introduced financial assistance for full-time or salaried employees adopting a child. Kroger recently expanded its benefits for long-terms employees to include $3,500 in tuition reimbursement for continuing education, certifications, and advanced degrees.
Apparently, there’s no end in sight. McGee writes, “Hiring managers have to dig deep for talent, because fierce competition for workers is unlikely to ease up anytime soon.” Unemployment is projected to remain low through 2020, and higher minimum wages as well as increased omni-channel competition are likely to keep payroll budgets tight.
I would suggest that there’s a “third path” retailers should consider to recruit and retain top talent. While signing bonuses and benefits packages certainly have their place, employee engagement and satisfaction should not be overlooked.
Great people want to do well, and they thrive when they have the tools they need to win. Store teams benefit when they know how they’re doing, where their opportunities and risks lie, and what they need to do to improve. From the head of stores of a multi-national chain to the newly hired part-time store associate, retail teams want clear goals, timely feedback, transparent KPIs, and most importantly, insights into what it takes to meet and beat their goals and win the sales day.
Motivated and engaged store teams create a virtuous cycle of success. Setting your teams up to win is crucial—not just to drive sales, but to create an environment where employees look forward to showing up for work.