Summer Retail Workforce Trends
The summer retail season is upon us, and retailers have been busy planning strategies to entice customers itching for warmer weather and all that the season brings — from new fashions to the latest gardening tools.
Retail Giants Gear Up for Summer With Significant Hiring Initiatives
Speaking of gardening, summer is an exceptionally busy time for the home improvement retail sector as do-it-yourselfers look to spruce up both their indoor as well as outdoor living areas. Because of this, home improvement retailers have been gearing up with considerable hiring initiatives for seasonal employees. For instance, Lowe’s announced it planned to hire over 53,000 temporary workers for the busy spring and summer months, which is 8,000 more seasonal hires than in 2017. Home Depot will be employing more than 80,000 seasonal workers to meet this year's peak demand.
Unfortunately, the task of hiring more than 130,000 workers is easier said than done as the labor market is tightening and suitable candidates are harder to find. Additionally, the rapid pace of technological advancement, customer demand and competition in the market are fueling the need for organizational agility, especially as it relates to talent management. Furthermore, because retail workers are increasingly moving between jobs, retailers are struggling to hire and retain motivated employees and field staff.
Students Search for Retail Gigs
For retailers looking to hire seasonal workers, college students are increasingly becoming an attractive, yet untapped market. Right now, thousands of cash-strapped students are entering the job market in search of part-time, hourly and on-demand employment.
In anticipation of the summer job rush, retailers should prepare by ensuring their hiring processes will efficiently help them to employ the best staff. Unfortunately, many retailers aren’t taking the right steps to attract this influx of eager graduates — or hang on to them once they do. Today’s young adults are a different breed of job seeker. They’ve grown up with technology at their fingertips and leverage the latest digital tools to accomplish their school work, so they expect the same personalized experience from the technology they use once on the job market.
Retailers that want to become talent magnets for college students and graduates must embrace new technology to meet the demands of this workforce, as they often don't respond to traditional recruitment strategies.
Retailers Find Success With Workforce Management Tools
Finding a cost-effective way to ensure employees are productive and quickly brought up to speed while maintaining customer engagement and satisfaction is often a major challenge for retailers. To avoid the typical scramble to hire staff, your human resources team should begin preparing 90 days to 120 days in advance to move seasonal employees through the pipeline and efficiently handle hiring and onboarding processes.
Brands are also increasingly investing in retail technology to manage these tasks. Home Depot, for instance, recently said it was virtually doubling investments in its stores and technology to $11 billion over the next three years. While today’s technologies are transforming the way consumers shop, they’re also transforming retail workforce operations as the industry's focus on technology has translated into how companies hire and manage employees.
Retailers must be prepared in the coming weeks to respond to the influx of job applicants they’re sure to receive. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology on the market intended to help retail business owners navigate the gig economy waters and efficiently manage a changing workforce. From finding the right staff to scheduling and tracking time, investing in robust workforce management and retail execution tools can help retailers find success this summer and beyond.
Stefan Midford is president and CEO of Natural Insight, an on-demand talent and retail task management platform designed to improve operational efficiency.
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