In 2022, every month, about 4 million workers in the U.S. are quitting their jobs. The trend is a facet of the Great Resignation, a phrase first coined in 2021 to describe the ongoing exodus of workers which originated during the onset of the pandemic. Nearly half of those who quit are looking for opportunities in new industries. They’re hoping to find higher pay, more flexibility, and better balance in the work environment.
The question is: Will they find what they want in retail?
The answer, like the Covid-19 outbreak and the workforce fluctuations it ignited, is multi-layered. Let’s break down the complexity and consider how working environments at retailers could benefit both today’s employees and companies that operate in an increasingly digitalized world. We’ll then evaluate how to attract talent—and make them want to stay.
Gone are the days of hiring a cashier, showing that person how to check out shoppers, and expecting the relationship to continue, status quo. The implementation of self-checkouts has changed the number of employees needed to carry out transactions for shoppers. While a row of cashiers may have been a sign of a peak buying time in the past, today many consumers prefer to breeze through the automated machines and make purchases on their own. If they’re not shopping in the store, buyers might be making those transactions online—another sign that the era of traditional cashiers is now in the past.
As we widen the lens and consider other departments, we see similar scenarios. Digital trends bring new ways to create shopping experiences for customers. They also provide a changing environment for employees. Continuing with the same hiring procedures, levels of pay, and in-store expectations simply will not work in a changing world.
Even as automation and new technologies come into play, workers play an important role. In fact, people are really at the center of true transformation. Creating a workforce that is eager to think in new ways, take on different roles, and be compensated well for their efforts will propel retailers into the future.
With that in mind, consider the possibilities for today’s available talent. Could cashiers of yesteryear be moved into new positions? What if they were to participate in chat groups and answer customer questions during their downtime? What if they could have training to specialize and be compensated for their efforts? They might choose to stay, rather than join the ranks of exiting employees.
The same is true when flexibility and balance are provided. With more shoppers online, there could be opportunities for workers to log in remotely too. Perhaps they engage in video calls with customers who are looking for more information about a product. Maybe they reach out to longtime repeat buyers and ask for their feedback online. They might interact with influencers and respond to community groups during hours that are convenient for them.
It’s not enough to think about new ways employees could work and then start sifting through online applications to hire staff. The best forms of recruitment start when a company cares, first and foremost, for its workers. If staff members have the assurance that they are being paid well compared to industry averages, have a chance to grow, and are enjoying a work-life balance, they’ll be ready and eager to serve customers. Better yet, the mindset that permeates throughout the business will attract talent—precisely those who are looking for new, engaging opportunities.
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As a founding member and CEO of OSF Digital, Gerry has more than 15 years of experience managing start-ups and medium-size IT businesses and driving them to peak performance. With background in Enterprise Applications, IT Services and Consultancy, Gerry's impressive client and business portfolio sets him in the new breed for global entrepreneurship.