Retailers Continue to Battle Labor Crunch

A tight jobs market has shops scrambling to adjust and find workers. 

July 16, 2021

Hiring Sign

NEW YORK—As the much of the country returns to normal interactions after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered stores and businesses last year, retailers continue to juggle open positions during one of the tightest labor markets to date, Retail Leader reports.

Filling those positions has proved to be tougher than anticipated, as retailers raise wages and expand benefits packages in an effort to woo reluctant applicants.

“What we’ve seen over the past years is a change in how people relate to their employer and employment in general,” Margot Bloomstein, a brand and content strategist and author of Trustworthy: How the Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap. She said, there’s been a “repositioning in the market where more and more employees are realizing they own their skills and talent and have more ability to bring it to the highest bidder.”

Companies such as Circle K have launched virtual and onsite job calls with the aim to hire hundreds to thousands of new workers. Retailers have sweetened the pot with signing bonuses, same-day pay and other expanded benefits. As NACS Daily reported in April, restaurants and retailers have been holding well-publicized recruitment events in an attempt hire workers. They’re also increasing wages and perks, with one McDonald's franchisee in Florida offering people $50 just to show up for a job interview, while Rutter’s recently raised starting wages to $15 an hour.

“Retailers need to recognize that while there are challenges throughout the entire hiring process, they are losing a large and qualified talent pool at the beginning if candidates aren’t able to apply quickly and efficiently,” said Quincy Valencia, vice president of product innovation at AMS. “Today, job seekers have higher expectations on timeline and engagement than ever before, and retailers have to step up. Adding more communication and transparency and improving efficiency in the hiring process are essential for retailers.”

Some employees gravitate toward companies that share their values, so retailers who share how they serve their communities might have an edge with potential workers. “In some cases, it's not the employer that offers them more money but a better opportunity to align their time and talent with their values,” Bloomstein said. “More people seek out employers that share their values.”

Convenience retailers can find the latest industry data, trends and best practices on compensation, benefits, recruitment and turnover in the NACS State of the Industry Compensation Report of 2020 Data.

To help convenience retailers attract and retain top-notch people, NACS partnered with the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute in January 2020 to bring the Good Jobs Strategy to the industry. The Good Jobs Strategy, which is a combination of investment in people and smart operating choices, increases employee productivity, motivation and contribution all while promoting operational excellence. Case studies show that implementing the Good Jobs Strategy can grow a business and increase customer loyalty.

Retailers can access the Good Jobs Calculator, designed exclusively for NACS and the convenience industry. This tool allows retailers to use their own data and customized assumptions about the amount of improvement or uplift achievable, and executives can run scenarios on the bottom-line impact of a Good Jobs system.

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