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What to pay attention to as a retailer when recruiting new staff

By Caitlyn Terra

14 Mar 2022



What is the attraction to working in a retail store? Or better yet: what should retailers pay attention to in order to make it even more attractive? Q&A Insights researched it and shared the results with FashionUnited. Some striking insights emerged which could come in handy for retailers while searching for new staff.

Q&A Insights conducted a survey among more than four hundred respondents, director John Terra tells FashionUnited. Not only were various answer options chosen for the participants to choose from, they were also able to provide explanations for their answers, creating a good picture of the image of retail. The current shortage on the labor market was the reason to conduct research into the attractiveness of working in the store. The research focuses specifically on people in their twenties and thirties because these are the generations that will be very important in the future, according to Terra.

Work atmosphere is the number one reason while choosing an employer

The respondents were asked about their reasons for choosing an employer. The working atmosphere is definitely number one for the respondents. The working atmosphere is therefore even more important than working for financial compensation, which has come second. Of course, the financial reward must be of a good level, but working in a place with a fantastic salary but a lousy working atmosphere, that too will stop at some point. The working atmosphere can be promoted through transparency, a high degree of communication and collaboration between colleagues, as was shown by desk research by Q&A Insights.

Terra explains that the atmosphere was not one of the options from which the respondents could choose at first: "We regularly ask whether important points have not been discussed. The work atmosphere clearly emerged from this and after the adjustment, it turned out to be the most important motivation for choosing an employer."

What are the possibilities for flexibility?

Flexibility came in third place. For example, people are interested in the options available to take leave, to choose how many hours they work, the option to easily switch shifts and the option to vary in shifts. But flexibility in a store, what does that look like? Q&A Insights mentions flexibility in operations in the white paper, for example. Does the unpacking of freight and the labeling of items have to be done at a fixed time, or can this also be done at a different part of the day? Technology can also help provide flexibility, such as self-check-outs. When customers can pay for items themselves, not many employees are always needed, which also creates flexibility in the occupation of the store.

Retail is not known as a place for personal development, while three quarters of job seekers think this is important

Although personal development ranks fifth out of the six options as to why people choose an employer, this is something that should not be overlooked, according to the conversation with Terra. More than three quarters of the respondents considered it important that there are opportunities for personal development at the employer. However, the store is not yet immediately seen as a place where people can develop. Only 48 percent indicate that they see the store as a kind of employer where this is possible. There is therefore still room for improvement in retail. Including development opportunities in the vacancies seems to be a good start.

If you facilitate personal development, what then? Everyone has different preferences, according to the answers of the respondents. More than half prefer to learn in practice and on the job. And 38 percent indicate that they would like to do a course of one or two days on location. Yet another 38 percent indicate that they would like to choose a digital course from an offer that the employer offers. A fifth indicates that they want to learn at a time of their choosing, and then through texts and videos. A fifth also indicates that they want to follow a defined career project. In addition, one person likes to learn independently, the other 1-on-1 and others in groups. The majority (33 percent) also wants to take time each month for personal development, followed by 30 percent who would like to take that time once a quarter.

It should be clear: preferences vary enormously. Q&A Insights therefore underlines that it is good as an employer to offer various options for personal development so that employees can choose what suits them. Terra adds that it is also good to be open about the growth opportunities within the company. "Just look at the new CEO of Action. She started 24 years ago as a shelf stocker and is now CEO." Terra adds that it is also good to be open about the growth opportunities within the company. "Just look at the new CEO of Action. She started 24 years ago as a stocker and is now CEO."

'Working in retail has an image problem'

The research also shows that retail has an image problem. Although 78 percent of the respondents find personal development important with an employer, only 49 percent expect a store to be an employer that offers this. Such a large gap can also be seen in financial rewards and meaningful work (82 and 52 percent, 79 and 55 percent).

This image problem can be partly addressed by deploying employees as ambassadors, according to Q&A Insights. The research shows that people who have experience working in a store have a more positive image of the sector. People who have no experience in retail expect more than 30 percent less from the store as an employer when it comes to personal development and flexibility. "To increase the attractiveness of the sector as an employer, it is important to deploy existing employees as ambassadors. They have practical experience and can convince friends and acquaintances of the added value of the store as a working environment. Working in retail is great fun. You will only see it when you get it."

The image problem of the entire sector will not be easy to tackle, says Terra. But, he adds, as an independent retailer there is a lot to be achieved. In this way, the recruitment of people can already be improved. State in the vacancy how the working atmosphere is promoted, how flexibility can be offered and what opportunities there are for personal development. In a world where people compete for staff, these tips are more than welcome. Now it is up to the retailers themselves to get started.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.NL, translated and edited to English by Kelly Press.

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