Guest Column | July 1, 2022

3 Retail Workforce Trends You Need To Know For "The Great Rehire"

By Vincenza Caruso-Valente, Sterling

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As businesses attempt to recover from “The Great Resignation” and usher in “The Great Rehire,” recruitment and retainment initiatives seem to be rising across the retail sector. In fact, in a recent survey from Deloitte, 83% of retailers said they were most heavily investing in recruiting and retaining employees in 2022.

The issue is knowing what such initiatives might look like, given the myriad challenges facing retail organizations today. Since the emergence of COVID-19, workers have been rapidly leaving their positions or hopping from one job to the next. By the end of 2022, Gartner projects the annual employee turnover rate in the U.S. will increase by as much as 20% compared with the pre-pandemic average.

To ensure that hiring and retainment plans reflect the demands of an evolving workforce and economy, retailers first need to tap into emerging trends in the broader retail space. Here are just a few to keep an eye on.

High-Volume Hiring

High-volume recruitment may not be new, but it’s increasingly necessary in today’s ultra-competitive environment. In a late 2021 survey, Aptitude Research found that nearly two-thirds of businesses across industries were up against high-volume hiring needs. Factor in high drop-off rates, increased competition, and novel screening imperatives (such as those related to COVID-19 vaccinations), and hiring becomes more of a high-wire balancing act than ever before.

Therefore, to meet high-volume hiring initiatives, retailers will need to dramatically reevaluate the overall hiring process. For most businesses, this will require leveraging the right technology to make every phase of recruitment and onboarding more efficient for everyone involved, but without compromising the human element, specifically the candidate experience. For example, HR staff can focus on the specific stage where their candidates are dropping out of the process, then identify specific pain points and frustrations by speaking with hiring managers or recruiters.

The “Candidate-First” Hiring Process

Retailers haven't yet seen the end of the Great Resignation. As McKinsey reports, retail was one of the hardest-hit industries in terms of attrition. Of 600 employees surveyed who quit their jobs last year, nearly half said they had no intention of re-entering the workforce in the next six months. In short, retail workers aren’t going to be won back so easily.

“Candidate-first” hiring helps demonstrate a genuine interest to potential new hires, and it’s a strategy that retailers are deploying in increasingly creative ways. Businesses are now individualizing the hiring process to optimize the candidate’s experience and to better understand workers’ unique skillsets and goals for purposes of performance and retention.

This is also an ideal opportunity for HR teams to reimagine and revamp company culture. By focusing on the candidate experience, businesses also can learn more about how their values appeal to applicants. For example, retailers can fine-tune the hiring process to select authentic candidates, which can help to improve retention and potentially uncover new ways of creating a more enjoyable and rewarding work environment.

Ensuring Trust And Safety

Finally, when appealing to a workforce whose expectations around trust and safety have been reshaped by a global pandemic, a retention plan prioritizing the ongoing wellbeing of employees is absolutely crucial. Beyond employee protection, the Society for Human Resource Management has found that a lack of trust can often lead to poor retention, engagement, and productivity.

In addition to maintaining thorough and efficient background screening processes, businesses can add another layer of protection through continuous workforce monitoring. Having the capacity to regularly monitor activity and automate post-hiring background checks not only provides employers with real-time oversight of employee conduct but also can enhance the overall sense of trust in the workplace.

 Vincenza Caruso-Valente is the General Manager of Sterling’s Staffing, Retail, and Franchise group. She previously held SVP roles leading teams that supported Sterling’s largest clients in Staffing, Retail, Gig, and Tech. Vincenza also played an integral role in Sterling’s M&A growth strategy. Her teams are dedicated to consulting clients on building best-in-class programs, optimizing the candidate experience, managing scale in growth eras, reducing time-to-hire, and driving profitability. Her team efforts have driven a 98% client retention rate. Prior to Sterling, Vincenza spent over 11 years in leadership roles in sales, business development, and finance at Dun & Bradstreet, AT&T, and EDS. Vincenza holds a BA degree in Economics and Italian from Rutgers University.

About The Author

Vincenza Caruso-Valente is General Manager, Sterling’s Staffing, Retail, and Franchise group.

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