Report: Stores Lacked Workers During Holidays

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Jan 15, 2020

Where were the workers?

That’s question a lot of retailers are now asking themselves. According to just-released findings by Kronos, 1 in 3 retail stores may have lacked enough workers during the  2019 holiday season —  only 33% of retail hiring managers said that they had enough people consistently to meet the needs of customers. Here are some other key findings from the “2019 Retail Holiday Hiring Pulse Survey”:

  • 94% of hiring managers said their company faced hiring challenges this past holiday season
  • 32% had trouble getting in front of qualified applicants
  • 26% found it challenging to identify top talent
  • 27% agreed that meeting their seasonal hiring goals was more difficult this year than last

OK, that’s the bad news. Want some good news?

  • 87% of hiring managers are confident they hired the right people in their stores for the 2019 holiday season
  • 88% said that seasonal staff were instrumental in helping their organization reach sales goals
  • 87% said that their workers positively impacted the customer experience

And guess who were the highest-performers? Boomerang employees. No surprise that many managers felt that the process to rehire/extend offers to high-performing seasonal staff should be easier.

If only. Given that the survey also showed that most retailers don’t provide season workers with healthcare benefits, PTO, or enough flexibility, attracting boomerang workers is that much tougher.

So what does this mean for retailers? Well, on one hand, online retail sales during the holiday season hit record highs. And sure enough, as iCIMS’ chief economist, Josh Wright, recently pointed out, “To keep up with the latest in ecommerce, retailers are recruiting tech workers more aggressively. Among new job openings in retail, web developers and computer-system analysts have seen the fastest growth this year. Graphic designers are in demand, as well, to help consumers search for and purchase items more efficiently.”

But, of course, on the other hand, shoppers are still visiting brick-and-mortar stores. And yes, there are fewer of them these days, but Kronos’ findings clearly indicate that store managers are struggling to staff their establishments. As Kronos’ retail and hospitality practice group’s senior manager Amanda Nichols suggests, “To attract and retain the types of employees you want representing your brand during peak seasons – whether the winter holidays, back to school, or summertime – focus on creating an employee experience differentiated by flexible and predictable schedules, the ability to easily swap or pick up extra shifts, opportunities for post-season employment, and, of course, fair treatment and competitive pay.”

It’s all that simple. And that hard.

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