Determining Your Local Labor Landscape

A recent NACS webinar explored how hiring trends are impacting retailers—and what they can do to get workers.

July 30, 2021

Interviewing a Job Applicant

By Sarah Hamaker

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Today’s tight labor market has made it even harder for retailers to hire good workers. Added to that are a new wave of workers quitting in what some are calling the Great Resignation.

“Wages have gone up, creating more competition around hourly rates especially,” said Jayme Gough, market research manager for NACS during the NACS webinar, “The Hiring Landscape.” “And COVID-19 accelerated some of these most sought-after employee benefits, including flexibility, peer coaching, teamwork, diversity and work/life balance.”

With flexibility topping the list of what workers want, she reminded retailers that they can build flexibility into their schedules for hourly workers. “Flexibility can be how long an in-store shift is, what days an employee wants to work or not work, what store location they want to work in, etc.,” Gough said. “There are more options for flexibility out there on the frontline than retailers realize, and it’s an asset for a company to provide that flexibility for hourly workers.”

As Travis Kistler, principal at Oliver Wyman, pointed out during the webinar, “The importance of the customer experience is also in the rise not just for customers but also for prospective employees. If they don’t like the customer experience, they’re not going to apply for a job.”

Kistler gave the example of a retailer with the customer experience of their store being community-oriented and treating employees like family. “Retailers need to make sure the employee experience and the customer experience stay complimentary,” he said.

Both Gough and Kistler reminded retailers that wage earners want more than competitive pay. “The good news is that there are lots of great options for retailers to create an attractive and compelling work package, as companies are testing a lot of different things to see what’s the most effective in retaining workers as well as bringing new workers in,” Kistler said.

One thing any retailer can do to figure out how to retain and hire workers is to find out the reasons people stay in the job with a stay interview. “Conduct stay interviews with long-term employees to find out why they stay with you, then consider how to emphasize all those positives to both new and current employees,” Kistler said.

The next webinar in the NACS Labor Landscape Webinar Series is “Attracting and Hiring Team Members in the Next Normal,” on Tuesday, August 3, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT. Sign up for this free webinar to learn how to meet the challenges of hiring employees in today’s tight labor market.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Va. Visit her online at