The entire retail landscape has changed from the COVID-19 crisis shutdown. Your main organizational chart is now outdated, nearly irrelevant. Why?
- Surveys indicate at least 10% and maybe 20% of your current staff are not returning to you. They have taken this break time to connect with new firms or they have retired or otherwise left retail altogether;
- Positions that never existed before need to be filled STAT: infection control, crisis managers, crowd managers, public relations comforters, returns experts, many more Human Resource support workers, extra cleaners, extra learning and training staff;
- Staff training is no longer simply about being nice to customers with product knowledge. You will now need to teach your staff to care and comfort their customers. The old sales formulas no longer will work;
- Online staffing is exploding and you either don’t have enough or don’t have experts: tech people, marketers, fulfillment staff, warehousing, pricing analysts, design and graphics folks, social media engagers;
- The skill levels you have been hiring are too low now to be able to pivot your firm quickly, nor agile enough to create new strategies and adept enough to drive new business. You aren’t going to be able to attract and identify this type of talent with old interviewing scripts
- Wage expectations are far higher now that workers are used to hazard pay bonuses;
- Generic job ads on old fashioned job boards were not very productive before the crisis and have no messaging or relevance any more to the new mindset of staffers. They want personal attention. Period.
Group production has now crushed individual stardom in staff. The concept of hiring “rockstars” is dead. Team players are the flavour of the day. Supportive of the group and the brand goals. Great community spirit.
When have Retailers ever screened for Community Spirit?
- Old command hierarchies are dead. The leader is just one of the group. Everyone is a leader. Your direct reporting chart is nullified. Your personal accountabilities policies are tanked;
- Some of your stores won’t reopen. Who do you keep? Who do you re-deploy, and how to make those decisions based upon expected future contributions? What are those standards?
- Some of your stores have experienced massive sales increases and are now booming in the e-comm sector. How do you keep that going? Will that hold after the crisis? Do you need to recalibrate your staffing levels? If so, with what skills?
- Some of your brands have suffered damage. What people do you need to hire to restore your image? How many Social Media folks? How many Marketing folks?
- It will make sense now that some of your staff never work in the office again. 69% no longer want to commute full time to office and can now prove why they don’t need to. Alternatively, what is the “bring back” plan? Some return? Part-time return?
The Bottomline: Do you really have enough highly skilled Human Resource “resources” to reload your entire workforce in the space of days or months? Do you have anywhere near the budget to fix all this?The job in front of you is monumental.
Human Resources is expected to take this load and lead without complaint. No longer are you just an administrative support function and you need to be funded to the levels of a significant branch of the firm. Their survival depends upon you. This is by far the single most important year for Human Resources departments everywhere.
Your workforce is not speaking your language anymore. They changed. Now you need to change. Don’t assume that reports of mass layoffs means you have an overflowing pool of talent to choose from when you re-open, and great candidates will flock to your door. If anything, the “flockers” will be the least skilled and most desperate. The best retail talent will have their choice of roles and salaries. What will you be offering?
You no longer have the luxury of believing that free job boards, and no spend for talent acquisition is a viable strategy anymore. It’s a guaranteed failure. If you aren’t hiring the best, you can be sure you are hiring just about the worst.
If your firm is going to survive, you need to completely re-think how important having the best talent is to your revival after this crisis. You have to allocate significant budget to supporting a massive rebuild of your teams. You can no longer reward Human Resource departments for “Not Spending” budget anymore. Saving money on talent right now is a fools sure way to failure.
The difference between winning and failing when retail re-opens is going to be your people. Think about that: your staffing choices can tip you in either direction with a flick of an internet click.Suzanne Sears, Best Retail Careers International Inc.