The retail industry is vital to the UK. Accounting for over 8% of all UK jobs and over 300,000 separate businesses, the retail sector is a formidable player in the nation's economy.
But with this size comes the perennial challenge of attracting and retaining the best talent in a constantly evolving landscape - a task that has become increasingly important, especially for SMEs.
Recruitment Challenges Faced Today
A major challenge for retailers is the issue of salaries and remuneration packages. While nearly 2.9 million employees work in the UK retail industry, according to a 2022 British Retail Consortium report, the average retail salary was paid £10.23/hour, compared to the UK all industry average of £14.05/ hour.
This coupled with the downward trend of the number of retail roles, creates a complicated environment for attracting top talent. The wholesale & retail sector accounts for the second largest number of vacancies, over 10% higher than prior to the pandemic, as highlighted by the BRC.
Moreover, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Summit Report found that 70% of small businesses struggle to find and retain skilled talent, a problem that's significantly more acute for smaller firms than larger ones.
Attracting the Best Talent
Attracting talent requires a multi-faceted approach, to ensure the best candidates are not missed.
Though not the be-all and end-all, a competitive salary is an effective tool for attracting talent.
It signals awareness of the industry, the economic status of the country, and a desire to support employees.
A quick look at our retail salary guide can help businesses benchmark their compensation packages.
Intentional Hiring Process:
This could involve using a recruitment agency, promoting from within, or leveraging referrals from current staff.
It is also important to consider the needs and barriers to different candidates in the hiring process and provide effective accommodations for this, including but not limited to neurodiversity, disability, and mental health.
Employee Benefits Packages & Inclusive Culture:
An inclusive company culture and a comprehensive benefits package can be key to drawing top talent.
Flexible working policies, team activities, and a leadership team that sets a positive example can contribute to a positive workplace environment
The impact of leadership on employee wellbeing is significant. A Harvard Business School study found an environment that fosters trust and growth can result in 74% less stress, 26% more energy, 13% fewer sick days, and 40% less burnout.
Retaining the Best Talent
Retaining talent is just as critical as attracting it. CentricHR suggests that “for high-turnover, low-paying jobs, expect to pay around 16% of the employees salary to replace them”. This increases the more advanced the role becomes. To keep retention high, the following strategies can be employed.
Career Development Opportunities:
A Pew Research Center report highlights that a majority of workers who quit their jobs in 2021 cited low pay, no opportunities for advancement, and feeling disrespected.
Strategies such as having clear progression pathways, regular feedback, career goal sessions, and mentoring schemes can all improve retention.
Recognising employees' can range from 'employee of the month' initiatives, incentive schemes, or meetings to discuss why they are valued.
However, it is crucial that pay reflects the job being done; without fair compensation, words of appreciation may ring hollow.
Monitor Employee Engagement & Burnout:
Employees that feel overworked and burnt out are far more likely to resign.
Regular employee surveys, reviews, and meetings can help prevent burnout and disengagement.
Encouraging an environment of trust can open up transparent conversations that help to address employee concerns promptly.
The Power of Digital Branding in Attracting Retail Talent
In today's digital age, your brand's online presence plays a crucial role in attracting top talent. A brand's reputation isn't just important to its customers; it also impacts potential employees' perception of the company.
Strong Social Media Presence:
In the same way vibrant store windows draw in shoppers, compelling social media presence can attract prospective employees.
The BRC found that 28% of the retail workforce are below the age of 25 – The demographic also most likely to engage with social media.
By using social media platforms to highlight company culture and share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your work environment, you can make your brand more attractive.
Online Employer Review Platforms:
Platforms like Glassdoor and Indeed give potential employees a look into your company from the perspective of those who know it best – your current and former employees.
Encouraging employees to leave honest reviews can help establish credibility and trust with potential hires.
Make sure to respond to these reviews, with confirmation of understanding and actionable change if required. Potential hires can see you care.
Engaging and User-Friendly Careers Page:
A careers page is often the first place potential hires will look to learn more about your company.
One that offers clear and comprehensive information about your company culture, values, and available roles, in an engaging or original manner can significantly improve your chances of attracting top retail talent.
With over 774 million users, LinkedIn is a powerful platform for attracting top talent.
Regularly posting content that showcases your company's achievements, culture, and opportunities can increase your brand's visibility and attract high-quality applicants.
Investing in SEO for Job Listings:
Just as businesses use SEO to improve visibility to customers, they can use it to increase visibility to job seekers.
By incorporating relevant keywords and providing comprehensive job descriptions, companies can improve their job search platforms ranking and attract more qualified applicants.
In 2023, your company's online presence is essential in attracting retail talent. Having a clear voice, prioritising the platforms your candidates engage with, and maintaining consistency with your messaging can create a strong digital brand and increase attractiveness to potential hires.
While money isn't everything, people need to be paid fairly – this is only enhanced by the current economic situation. Moreover, they require a positive and supportive environment; one where they see examples of colleagues succeeding and advancing within the company, from all backgrounds.
Attracting and retaining the best retail talent is no small task. It requires a strategic approach, a deep understanding of the industry, and a commitment to building an inclusive and engaging workplace culture.
But for businesses that rise to this challenge, the rewards are immense - a dedicated, talented workforce that drives the business to success.
Let's continue to champion better workplaces, equitable pay, and career advancement opportunities in the retail industry. The future of retail depends on it.