Guest Column | October 29, 2021

Prepping For The Holiday Shopping Season? It's Time To Rethink Your Hiring Strategy

By Jeff Skinner, vice president of sales, Certn

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We’ve all seen the headlines about restaurants and stores that can’t find enough employees and must reduce operating hours accordingly. Retail workers are quitting at a record rate – in June alone, over 630,000 retail workers left their jobs.

And while hiring in the retail industry saw a slight decrease in openings in recent months, there are still a substantial number of openings across industries. That means competition for workers is fierce. With the busy holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, retail employers must re-think their approach to hiring strategy.

Addressing Retail Churn

Given recent events and the statistics from economic and labor analysts, it’s clear that finding the right talent and the right amount of talent is going to take some work. The current dynamic is that you’ll have one applicant who is applying to, say, five different companies. And, assuming compensation is similar, the applicant is probably going to go with the company that’s able to hire them first and give them a start date.

The industry is always going to be challenged with filling the funnel and getting talent to start as quickly as possible. With retail being high-churn, retailers need to be able to rapidly fill roles. Companies need to be able to hire quickly, without time-consuming processes that require too much work on the applicant’s behalf, and they need to be able to get them started in the actual role as fast as they can.

Examining The Necessary Changes

One of the best and most important ways to improve the hiring process has to do with attracting candidates in the first place. Two major ways of addressing this are incentives and the actual job descriptions themselves.

When it comes to landing the best hires, the job description goes a long way. It’s not just about what you want from a new hire; you also need to focus on selling your company as a great place to work. The most effective way to do this is by outlining your incentives up front.

There’s a place for both tangible and intangible incentives. Tangible incentives include things like salary, sales bonuses, insurance, and leave/paid time off. These are the things that keep employees happy now. Intangible incentives are what helps with staff retention and reduction of turnover. These include things like workplace culture, training, career growth opportunities, flexibility, and more.

Take Another Look At Background Checks

Once you’ve found suitable applicants and done the requisite interviewing, the next step for many companies is a background check. The approach to background checks is going to vary – for some companies, everyone gets screened; for others, it’s just manager-level positions, and still others don’t do them at all.

The key to background checks is that if you do use them, the process must not become burdensome to your candidates. It needs to be done quickly and smoothly since most applicants in retail are likely to take the first job they’re offered. So, for retailers who need qualified candidates quickly, a background check process that takes days and requires a lot of work on the candidate’s behalf isn’t going to fly.

And that’s where it’s important to understand that not all background check companies are created equal – you need one that can provide fast, seamless checks that don’t interfere with your ability to hire quickly. While this is important in many industries, it’s especially key in retail – and even more so when it comes to needing to hire many people quickly as the pending holiday shopping season requires. In addition, these checks provide a safe environment for your employees, without jeopardizing time-to-fill goals.

Fully Staffed, Fully Ready

The retail industry was hit especially hard by the pandemic, thanks to lockdowns and supply chain interruptions. These woes have been compounded by the mass exodus from the industry and the struggle to fill open positions. Adding fuel to the fire, we’re approaching what promises to be an extra-busy shopping season. This means that more than ever, having dependable talent will be essential.

Market forces are such that it’s no longer enough to send out a bland job description and run days- or weeks-long background checks. To fill your open positions, you’ll need to let retail applicants know up front what you have to offer and why they should choose you instead of another company. You’ll need a background check solution that’s accurate, fast, friendly, and budget-aware. These actions will enable you to welcome shoppers back into your stores as the holidays approach.