How Retailers Can Improve Their Hiring Strategy for the Fall and Beyond
Since the onset of the pandemic, the future of the retail industry has been marked with uncertainty. Currently, retailers are trying to prepare for a looming threat of recession and inevitable changes to consumer spending in the face of continued high inflation. With so much unpredictability ahead, labor planning can be a particularly daunting task. However, there are best practices retail businesses can incorporate into their labor strategy that will set them up for success in the fall and beyond.
Aligning HR and Operation Teams
When retail companies cannot properly forecast consumer demand, and therefore have limited visibility into future labor needs, it's important to create and maintain communication channels and processes that enable HR and Operations teams to be nimble and in sync in the face of fluctuating needs. With tight alignment, these two departments can quickly identify staffing gaps and develop a plan of action, or slow down hiring to prevent overstaffing, which is an issue many retailers faced after the pandemic hiring rush.
Aside from helping retailers hire more efficiently, closely aligning HR and Operations will help attract more qualified and interested workers. When these two teams work in close collaboration, needs and insights from the Operations team can more quickly and easily be translated into actions by the HR team, such as improvements to job postings and optimization of the staffing funnel.
Leverage Independent Contractors
Staying agile during periods of unpredictability is a critical key to success. Retail companies can achieve this by incorporating independent contractors into their labor strategy.
When demand fluctuates, retail organizations often find themselves in a difficult position as they need to have enough workers to meet consumer demand while also avoiding costly inefficiencies from utilizing too many workers. Establishing a flexible labor strategy that includes nontraditional solutions — such as connecting with independent contractors through an online marketplace — is a perfect solution to this issue. Online job marketplaces enable businesses to quickly and easily connect with qualified and experienced retail workers based on current business needs. With these tools, retail leaders can engage only the workers needed on a day-to-day basis and efficiently fill labor needs without going through interviews and onboarding processes, which can be time consuming and costly.
Optimize Your Job Requirements
Another key to setting businesses up for success is the optimization of job requirements and onboarding processes. Retail leaders should reevaluate their job postings to ensure the requirements are actually what are needed to succeed in the job, and ensure processes related to intake and onboarding aren't unnecessarily burdensome. Job seekers often avoid lengthy hiring processes that require them to wait around while spending large amounts of time and resources, all without knowing whether they’ll get the job. In fact, about two in five candidates are only willing to spend less than 15 minutes on a job application before giving up on applying.
It's essential for retail leaders to establish an efficient, agile and flexible hiring strategy, especially in times of economic volatility. When companies don't meet labor demands, it affects workers and company output, which in turn trickles down to impact consumer experience and overall company success. On the other hand, when retailers utilize too many workers, it can eat into their profits. By meeting labor demands with a flexible strategy, retail businesses can put their best foot forward as they enter the industry's busiest months of the year.
Monica Plaza is the chief strategy officer at Wonolo, a provider of in-demand staffing solutions for businesses.
Related story: How Retailers Can Use Technology to Compensate for Labor Shortages
Monica Plaza joined Wonolo in 2019 as Vice President of Supply and transitioned into her role as a core strategy driver in October 2020, when she was appointed to Vice President of Strategy for the company. Prior to Wonolo, Monica spent 10 years at Google in leadership roles across Sales and Operations.