Today’s post comes to us from the Executive Director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.
Have you started your holiday shopping yet, or have you even begun to think about it? Retailers have — and they’re already busy navigating how to attract talented associates who will help meet consumer demand this holiday shopping season.
Lingering supply chain issues and labor challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact global industries, especially retail. According to new research from UKG, labor shortages left 68% of retail stores struggling to meet sales goals this past summer, and 88% of retailers are concerned about burnout and fatigue among store associates as we enter peak-selling season.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. While 63% of retailers feel this could be the worst holiday hiring season in memory, according to the study, almost all are confident they can still deliver a positive experience for associates (93%) and shoppers (94%).
That’s good to hear, because the National Retail Federation predicts in-store retail sales could exceed $3.35 trillion this year, which is up from $3.10 billion in 20201. All the more reason retailers will need to find innovative ways to not only recruit employees for another busy season, but also ensure their people remain happy and willing to stay through the holidays, and beyond (95% of retailers surveyed by UKG believe it’s more important to fill permanent positions rather than to hire temporary seasonal staff).
What can retailers do? According to the UKG study — titled “Retail’s 2021 Holiday Season Outlook” — it’s about more than just increasing employee pay, though that’s critical too.
While the research shows that about 70% of retailers made direct, long-term investments in their people in 2021 — i.e., raised wages or offered innovative and impactful benefits — others have committed to providing schedule flexibility, job stability, and development opportunities.
Furthermore, as the UKG study cites:
Retail is just like other industries — business success is directly tied to employee happiness, even more so during a pandemic. It’s a simple concept, but not exactly the easiest to execute on.
As we plan for another holiday season, and the joy that often surrounds it, let’s think of the ways we can keep workers happy. And while you’re out in the stores shopping for those must-have gifts, remember to be kind to all of the hard-working retail associates, and maybe even take a moment to thank them. Kindness is a gift we can all appreciate.
Are you struggling to recruit and keep great employees? Register for our October 20 webinar: “Beyond the Great Resignation: An Action Plan for Hiring and Retention.” I’ll be joined by Workforce Institute advisory board members Sarah Morgan and John Frehse. It’ll be a great discussion, and we hope to see you there!
1 Based on the National Retail Federation’s June 9 projection that 2021 retail sales could total more than $4.44 trillion, including an estimated $1.09 trillion in non-store and online sales, and that total retail sales in 2020 reached $4.02 trillion, including $920 billion in non-store and online sales.
The holiday season always brings out the generosity in people. This time of year just seems more magical, more heartwarming - and it inspires many of us to pause and think about how we can give to those who need it the most.
As a Kronite, I'm fortunate that the company I work for is generous throughout the year. But for this holiday season, we've gone a step further and implemented a program called #SixWeeksofGiving, where each week, leading up to the holidays, we work together to give back to a worthy cause. Last week, for instance, we held our annual Holiday Fair. The proceeds from that event will benefit Community Teamwork in Lowell, Massachusetts. Community Teamwork works to strengthen communities and reduce poverty by delivering vital services to create housing, education, and economic opportunities.
“The Kronos Six Weeks of Giving program is a fun and engaging way for us to bring employees together this holiday season to support the communities where our employees live and work,” says Vince Devlin, Chief Procurement Officer and head of Kronos' GiveInspired corporate giving program. “It's truly a win-win for both Kronos and our community partners.”
While the Six Weeks of Giving Program is a fantastic way to give back to our own neighborhoods, it also provides an unique - and heartfelt - way to boost employee engagement. It's giving our employees the opportunity to make a positive difference in their community, while also working together for great causes. In fact, UnitedHealth Group's 2013 Health and Volunteering Study found that 64% of employees who participate in volunteer activities at their job said that volunteering with co-workers strengthened their relationships with their colleagues.
A corporate giving program (no matter the time of year) can also help to attract and retain employees. For instance, Cone Research found that 79% of people prefer to work for a socially responsible company, and 79% of employees think it's important that their companies match their charitable giving.
Would you agree that a corporate giving program inspires employee engagement (and retention)? Why or why not?
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