By Peter Sheppard
Senior Performance Consultant, Retail Doctor Group 

Now added to all the traditional challenges of surviving and thriving in the business of retail, a whole new challenge has arisen for retail business owners and managers – How to attract and keep good staff.

There are many examples of retailers struggling to get suitable people to keep the business running, without even mentioning quality or ability of those available. In some cases, retailers have not even been able to open their doors due to not having people to man the floor.

How we got to this situation is still something of a mystery – What has happened to all the people, mainly Gen Z and millennials (Teens and twenty somethings) that have largely filled these positions for generations and why are there many who do not want to work in Retail and other traditional areas is a fundamental change to our industry?

This situation prompted Retail Doctor Group to undertake research into what motivates people to work, what they are looking for as working conditions and what businesses have to offer them, to not only attract them, but to keep them. We found that people generally want a work-life balance. Some of the top things that people expected from potential employers included a friendly work culture and flexible working hours. It seems that the focus of a job interview has done 180 degrees. The employer is being interviewed, not the employee!

This signifies a shift in employees’ attitude from the past few decades and could be a major part of the reason why a business cannot attract people to their team.

As a business owner or employer, how many of us go out of our way to show the values that potential employees are seeking? Are we, in the interview process, still mainly about what the employee can bring to the business and not what the business can provide the employee?

How many retail businesses can provide a work environment that fulfills most of these employment conditions? Can businesses survive with this attitude in employment market? Will this situation hasten the development of AI and automated functions such a self-check-out, no check out, automated refill, faster growth of online retail and so on where less and less human effort is required?

Where will this leave employment for all those people looking for income producing work?

So when seeking to employ, perhaps particularly younger people, it is important to ‘sell’ the company to the prospective employee, both in the advertising and in the discussion with the prospects. And then, live up to their expectations wherever possible, on what and how the company behaves in their employment.

Give us a call on +61 2 9460 2882 or email and we can help you learn how to attract and retain suitable staff and live up to their expectations.