The face of retail changed drastically in the last few years, with the pandemic being a huge driver of this shift.
Public health changes since the start of the pandemic have transferred retail workers to being essential frontliners in the blink of an eye. Disruptions in the supply chain, leaps in technology, and increasing social demand for better working conditions in the face of the pandemic are also playing their part.
That is to say, retail workers are now more valuable than ever, and if you’re a retail store of any kind, you should be revising your playbook to deal with this new demand.
This article will discuss how you can more effectively recruit retail workers in this time of increased competition.
Why is it Getting Harder to Hire Retail Workers?
It’s not just you: it’s becoming more challenging to hire employees in retail – especially if you’re sticking to your pre-pandemic standards. Too many things have changed in the blink of an eye, and those who haven’t invested in keeping up with the trends suffer the effects today.
But why exactly are these things happening?
Here are the most prevalent reasons retail workers are becoming more scarce in the job market.
Unsurprisingly, the global pandemic has played a massive role in this scarcity. Here are a couple of main reasons why this public health crisis makes retail workers leave their jobs.
- Exposure. Understandably, fear of contracting the virus doing customer-facing roles in retail discourages many retail workers from going back to their jobs.
- Family concerns. With the increased uncertainty about how their family might be affected by the pandemic. Parents, especially, struggle to look for childcare should they ever go back to work. More than that, a lesser-discussed aspect of this failure to return to the workforce is that many public schools are still closed. Parents are understandably concerned about leaving their children at home all day and even more worried about exposing themselves and potentially harming their children.
- Psychological burden. The emotional burden of facing potentially risky customers to do your job is nothing to scoff at. The psychological strain is real among frontliners and essential workers, and when employers do not address that burden, employees believe they are better off somewhere else.
One of the most surprising reasons for the scarcity of retail workers in the presence of extensive government programs that gives generous unemployment to individuals affected by the pandemic.
If people can make better or just as much money while staying home as at work, why should they give it up?
Even if they make a little more money than the benefits they receive, is the difference worth all of the health concerns previously mentioned? Many retail workers don’t think so, especially when all they are paid are only slightly above minimum wage.
Reasonably speaking, no one would risk toiling for dozens of hours every week, potentially severely affecting their health just for a few more dollars every month.
To top it all off, competition for fronliners has increased significantly. Retail has become an essential, front-line industry as the quarantines continued, and industry giants leaped into action by offering very high wages.
Major brand names such as Amazon, Walmart, Under Armour, and even Best Buy have raised minimum hourly wages to be more attractive to the few workers who return to work.
When there’s an obvious scarcity of workers going back to the job market, those who do go back will likely be more attracted to work for more prominent brands. More than that, workers are now also more aware of the benefits they need to ensure that they are safe and protected.
Smaller businesses that also need the labor force will find it more challenging to compete with the higher wages of more prominent brands.
Where to Hire Retail Employees
Now that we have a good background of the current job market for retail employees, we are now better equipped to up our game and be competitive in the retail job market.
First and foremost, you need to know where your candidates are hanging out to market your open position to them better effectively. In this section, we will see where you can effectively hire employees for retail.
1. Online Job Boards
The best, most cost-effective way to market your job vacancy is through online job boards. Posting on job boards is easy and cost-effective, and your posts tend to reach many people who are specifically looking for jobs.
Plus, job boards are the first things people open when they decide to go to work.
Your recruitment software should allow you to publish to multiple job boards at once so that you can maximize the chances that job applicants will see your post and come pouring in.
However, its main disadvantage is that it will likely attract many low-quality applicants, so you need to spend some time and effort sorting through all the applications. However, having an ATS or recruiting software with an automatic matching feature will save you all this trouble.
2. Social Media
Social media use is currently at an all-time high.
According to the Pews Research Center, seven out of ten Americans will say that they’ve used some kind of social media. For the past year, social media use has averaged 1,300 hours, according to this Forbes article.
Individuals spend a significant portion of their day on social media, totaling 53 minutes a day on average on Facebook and a little lesser on other platforms.
Thus, it only makes sense that you also market the open position where people are likely to see them. Advertising for local retail opportunities is expected to grab the attention of individuals who have nothing better to do than to surf social media.
Here are three tips on using social media to recruit your newest wave of retail employees.
- Utilize professional networks. LinkedIn, arguably the most popular professional social platform, is now part and parcel of many job seekers’ lives.
- Tap into the personality of social networks. Professional social networking sites aren’t the only ones currently in vogue right now. Various demographics are gravitating to different social platforms to express themselves better. For example, Instagram is the second most-used platform after Facebook, most notable followed by most individuals aged 18 to 29 years old, along with Snapchat and TikTok.
- Targeted ads. Lastly, no matter what social media platforms you want to recruit from, strongly consider utilizing targeted ads to ensure that your ideal demographic will see your job advertisement. This is especially true if you’re going to recruit many people.
3. Your Store
One of the best ways to showcase your open position is to post it where your customers can see it. The window or entrance of your retailer store is an ideal place for job ads. If you have a website, putting the job openings would also be a good idea.
Of course, this tactic limits your reach to some degree – but at the same time, it also provides some benefits.
The primary advantage is that you will likely recruit someone already familiar with your store and your ideals. Whether they’re long-time customers, partners, or neighborhood passers-by, they will probably already know you and your business to some degree.
This helps make the ob-boarding process a little bit easier, especially in customer-facing roles like retail workers.
4. Local Boards
A step up to simply putting up signs around your store is to put them up on local job boards, where people from your community will likely see them. This has a broader reach than simply posting on your store and brings all the benefits.
When posting on local boards or job columns in newspapers, make sure to provide clear steps on what they want to do to apply.
Different areas will have varying risk levels, so make sure that the first few steps on your help wanted ad followed by local policies. For example, high or medium-risk areas might wish for the initial stages (submitting resumes and initial interviews) of their application process to occur online or through mobile.
Open high schools or universities would make great places for job ads, especially if you’re targeting these demographics.
Ask permission from academic institutions that are already open to posting several posters on school bulletins, or you can even pull other potential employees together to hold a job fair if you urgently need more hands.
If the schools in your local area aren’t open yet, you can also post job ads on the school or university pages and groups on social media.
Schools are ideal places for job ads because students of legal age, the majority of which have no children to take care of and would be happy doing part-time jobs to earn money.
Best Tips for Hiring Retail Workers
Now that we have a good grasp on the situation and know where we might post our job ads, what then? Here’s a list of tried and true tips for hiring retail workers.
1. Hire Teenagers
There are two good reasons to hire teenagers for retailer positions amid labor shortages:
- Most teenagers were not given unemployment benefits.
- Most of them don’t have children and families to take care of.
While some teenagers and young adults benefited from such efforts like the CARES Act from pausing student loans, they are unlikely to have received unemployment benefits to the level of an income replacement.
This factor alone gives them the right motivation to go back to work once they are able, which this demographic seems to have displayed even a year ago when their employment level went back to pre-pandemic numbers.
More than that, teenagers are also not likely to have the same burdens that adults have.
While they might also be concerned about their health and safety, they don’t have children to risk leaving behind, allowing them more freedom of mobility.
2. Look for Applicable Skills, Not Just Experience
Take a good, long look at your qualifications: chances are, you will be highly preferential to candidates who already have a background in retail.
While that’s not necessarily bad, you can’t afford to be so picky in these times of scarcity anymore. If you want to have an edge, you’re the one responsible for creating that edge – and you can do that by hiring people who might not necessarily have the experience but exhibit the skills to excel.
You can do this by looking at the previous experience and analyzing transferable skills.
Maybe your candidate has never worked retail but has a prior background as a barista in a busy bar. Since being a barista is a customer-facing profession, these people will likely have excellent customer service skills.
The same goes for individuals who have worked with BPOs, part-time jobs on fast foods, etc.
Students, and anyone else without prior experience, can also display their potential through the extracurricular activities that they’ve had.
3. Focus on Candidate Experience
Candidate experience is a metric with wide-ranging implications.
According to a study by IBM, this metric doesn’t just influence potential job seekers from applying to your company; it also impacts potential customers’ decision to buy anything from you.
In today’s fast-paced, information-saturated environment, it’s no surprise that candidates with bad experience applying for your company can easily share their grievances online, affecting your image negatively.
In their study about the company brand’s roles in recruitment, Banerjee et al. disclosed that company branding directly affects job applicants’ willingness to apply for a position.
Anyone can see how candidate experience is critical to today’s tight labor market.
Thus, you can take the following steps to improve your candidate experience outright.
- Communicate with your applicants clearly and often. Inform your candidates of anything that concerns them, such as possible waiting times, processes, etc.
- Have clear instructions. Make sure that your candidates intimately understand what to do next in their stage of the recruitment process.
- Craft a great interview session. Your interviews are the most crucial portion of your recruitment process: prioritize it and ensure you get all the information you need without being overbearing.
4. Use Recruitment Software
A good recruitment software or ATS is essential for hiring retail workers, especially if you’re hiring a large volume of workers in a short time.
Recruitment software such as Hirenest will help you hire better and faster. This software utilizes cutting-edge technology to simplify and quicken your hiring process.
For example, it makes posting on various websites and job boards easier. You can also funnel your applicants through your pipeline better through seamless coordination and other forms of automation tools – thus improving their candidate experience.
5. Make Working As Easy As Possible
This doesn’t mean being lenient on workers who neglect their duties or not making your employees do demanding tasks. Working is difficult, and it’s doubly challenging in today’s environment.
Rather, make work a positive environment. Work can be challenging, but you can do your part to ease your employees’ minds and secure them from unnecessary danger. You can do this by following these tips.
- Provide competitive salary or benefits. Make your salary as competitive as you can, and if you can’t quite match the big brands, make up for it with creative benefits. For example, allowing parents to bring their children to work can help eliminate the hesitance over going back to work.
- Prioritize employee safety. When the public essentially risks their lives when they go outside, employees will appreciate a caring employer and create strong loyalties and business relationships.
- Be willing to try new practices. Work has changed over the course of a few years. Uncommon practices are now proving to be effective in the wake of a catastrophic pandemic.
Thus, as an employer, you need to adapt and take advantage of these changes for the betterment of your workplace.
Hire Retail FAQs
How do you hire someone for retail?
Hiring someone for retail is now more challenging than ever, but you can now improve your hiring playbook to incorporate best practices with the in-depth guide we’ve provided.
For example, take advantage of the teenage job market, cater to employee needs, and be flexible in your work practices.
Where can you recruit retail employees?
There are many channels that you can use to recruit retail employees. The examples listed in this article are online job boards, social media sites, your store, local bulletins, and schools.
What are some different methods to recruit employees for retail?
Retail employees are becoming scarce, especially since more prominent brands are increasing their salaries in ways smaller stores can’t match. To make up for this difference, be resourceful and offer value in other ways, such as providing alternative daycare.