Retail Staffing: CRB has ended and still no flood of people racing to get hired
The prevailing thought amongst Retailers is that people prefer to stay home and earn CRB federal money, rather than work. They believed that when CRB ended and without that support, people would flood back to retail jobs.
If they were going to do that, they would have done that a few weeks ago. The expectation was a massive rush of scared workers submitting resumes. It simply has not happened.
About 50% of American states ended their special support for COVID-19 shut outs a few months ago. The expected surge of workers has not materialized there either. Early results suggest if any improvement has occurred it is marginal, around 1.3% increase in employment.
There is no reason to think that Canada will be different.
So what is going on?
A few things come to mind to take into account when re-working your hiring strategies moving forward post-pandemic.
- The impact COVID-19 has had on the entire concept of “work” cannot be overstated. There has been a real cultural shift away from the need to “produce”; in the sense of their self esteem being tied to old 1800s Christian “work hard” ethics. There is no longer any shame in being unemployed or not fully employed.
- Folks have found other ways to have meaning in their lives. When the pandemic hit, many women were forced to stay home and take care of their children as there was no alternative. Now there is a gap and we are missing women in the workforce. Many have decided they want to stay home with their children ongoing and will settle for “less” to make that happen.
- Many of those close to retirement during the COVID-19 lockdown have decided now is the time to pack it in. Their wisdom and knowledge for training the next line of workers has been lost prior to when retailers had planned, leaving training gaps even when they can find people willing to work.
- Youngsters see retail as not being a solid return on their university investments. The new rules say they have to start paying those loans off within six months of completing courses. They are highly motivated to seek out only the highest paying jobs.
- Online shopping and alternatives to in-person services have created less retail customers in-person and this is effecting the attraction of retail to many workers
- COVID-19 store protocols for cleaning in between showing items and checking out customers slows down the sales process and takes the “luxury” out of the shopping experience
So what do Retailer need to do?
All this has been said before. At the bottom of this missing talent pool is wages. Plain and simple. Retailers are reeling. Essentially if you are not offering a minimum of $18.00 per hour, your options for hiring entry level are next to nil. No amount of justifying why you can’t afford it or why they aren’t worth it will change that.
If you pay enough you will find people who will work for you.
How can Retailers afford that?
Retailers need to remind themselves they have a lot of unspent wage budget from COVID-19 lockdowns that can be used to prop up wages now. Think of those funds as a savings account that you started to be able to afford to open again. Don’t just suck back those funds into the bottom line to prop up your missing sales. Leave it in wages and spend it on the one critical thing you need to make a full recovery: STAFF.
A crazy but good example is a restaurant in British Columbia posted $25/hour for a dishwasher recently – not saying you have to go that far but moving the hourly to $18-20 per hour, so you can compete with Amazon hiring (who also pays for school allowance and many other company benefits). Why would a retail worker opt to work for minimum wage and no benefits at your retail store when they can work in a safe warehouse, where the cleaning is done for them, making more money, with better benefits, at one of the biggest, most stable companies in the world? Let that sink in before you say you can’t afford a wage increase.
If you want to attract the elite luxury retail staff you need to include higher wages and better benefits in your hiring packages. Give them incentive to come back to your spaces and work in retail as a career, and not just a placeholder to make temporary money. Give them a future plan that makes sense and they can build on.