Hiring in Retail

Nov 24, 2016

The Biggest Human Resource Challenges in the Retail Sector

The onslaught of e-commerce sounded like a death knell for the retail sector. Even well-established players were feeling the heat. Workforce reduction, closure of stores have become a norm. Best Buy, a consumer electronics retailer was no exception. In 2012, when Hubert Joly was appointed as the Chief Executive, he had a gargantuan task in front of him. Come 2016; it seems the strategy worked as intended. Best Buy is back in the game and has turned profitable again. So what worked? Undoubtedly it was the decision of the Board to rope in Hubert Joy to lead the company.

Towards Seamless Collaboration

Leaders across all industries are metamorphosing. A leader no longer can be the command and control center, be it at company level or the Floor Manager. In the retail sector, the employee closest to the customer plays a pivotal role in the success of the company. It is for this employee that leader needs to create a collaborative environment. The Lieutenant needs to take into consideration factors like diversity, training, and employee engagement for devising strategies to take your organization to the next level.

Understanding the Workforce

Retail sector somehow failed to take into consideration that generational gap of the workforce. Baby boomers are gone, it’s the Millennials that form the majority of the workforce in the retail sector. Thus, the leaders need to understand that Millennials want their managers will be minimally hierarchical, will engage them personally and lead with a coaching style. This, in turn, makes the front-line employees included in the organization that effectively reduces the turnover rate and enhances productivity.

Another important factor is workforce diversity. Though a diverse workforce is considered good, employees coming from different demographic backgrounds may find it difficult to develop cohesiveness. The trick is to ensure that finely balance the diversity and create a team that is tolerant and collaborative.

Everyday Challenges and Perceptions

One of the biggest challenges of the retail sector is how the current generation perceives it - they consider retail as a dead end and seldom think of making a long-term career in it. Everyday frustrations are commonplace for employees. A customer may spend an hour at the store and walk out without making any purchase. This leads to frustration in the employees. To effectively tackle this, training is critical. Training is not a one-time exercise. The employees need to understand the rapidly changing customer expectations. This can be achieved only through continuous training. At times the leader may have to take the approach of one-to-one coaching to tackle everyday challenges the employee faces. Customers need Apple Store-like experience with Amazon like simplicity, and only effective leadership can provide it.

Hiring the Right Leadership

Hiring in retail is not without its challenges, and hiring the key people is even more challenging. Spotting the right person in the crowd of potential candidates is time-consuming and tricky. A leading executive search firm can tackle headhunting challenges in an efficient manner and bring you the superstars you need, in order for your business to thrive.


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