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Rush to Recruit in Retail Causes High Staff Turnover

Clare Hopping

brianac37/Flickr - Birmingham, an important retail centre brianac37/Flickr - Birmingham, an important retail centre

As summer arrives, retail recruiters are finding it hard to find enough candidates to fill spaces, but how did we get to this position?

Summer, along with Christmas, is the biggest time of the retail year and recruiters are rushing to hire enough new employees to cover the period.

However, with volume recruitment comes the risk of employing people who aren't necessarily best for the job and after a couple of weeks of work, those candidates leave.

Retailers have reported that the biggest risks under-skilled employees bring to the company are poor service and customer experience - two things that cannot be tolerated in the retail industry. After all, the 'customer is always right' and if your staff is unwilling to accept this, your company will experience serious brand reputation issues.

The Negative Effects of Volume Recruitment

What are the knock on effects of wrongly appointed employees though? Firstly, retailers say there's an average turnover rate of 67% for part-time store workers - a higher number than most other industries. A high turnover gives a bad impression of your company, especially if your customers and competitors catch wind of it.

Melody Moore, Leadership & Talent Consultant writes on Retail Gazette that retail recruiters, or those who need to employ high volumes of workers are spending more than £2.8 million a year to meet these recruitment needs - that's higher than the average industry.

Where are the Challenges?

According to Retail Gazette's report, the reason retailers are experiencing problems is because so many people apply for the jobs and screening those candidates becomes a massive chore. In fact, nearly half of all retailers are receiving between 50 and 100 applications for each job role, adding up to around 50,000 to 100,000 applications per year - double that of other volume-recruitment sectors.

As a result, retail recruiters may have no other option that to offer anyone who shows the basic skills a job - even if those skills aren't confirmed with previous employers or evidence supplied.

Without the necessary screening, interviewing, and fact checking happening because of time constraints on behalf of the recruiter, it's no wonder so many appointments are made and the turnover in the retail industry is so high.

Another big issue facing the retail industry is a skills gap. Although the UK is demonstrating growth in the skills gap, those associated with customer services and sales are missing in many candidates applying for jobs in the retail industry.

Moore says, "When looking at the two key personality traits related to customer service and selling (‘supportive’ and ‘influencing’), only 12% of the population are likely to be strong in both areas."

These odds mean it's highly unlikely that every person who applies for a job in the retail industry will be suited to a role, yet with the turnover, it's evident they are being awarded jobs, despite being under-skilled.

How Can Retail Recruiters Rectify the Situation?

Volume recruitment is one aspect of the industry that requires a recruiter to be organised and although screening so many applications can take time, there are many ways you can try to reduce the number of applications and it all starts with marketing.

Remember, with big numbers comes big data, and this data can be used to further understand how the best candidates can be selected. In addition, utilising technology - such as online tests - can enable you to screen large numbers of candidates in a short period, saving more hands-on techniques for stronger prospective employees.

Although it will require more effort, it will pay to tailor the recruitment process for the business in question, making it less likely that candidates will be ill-suited than if a generic process were used. As such, with the right choices, volume recruitment can be not just a challenge, but an opportunity.

Clare Hopping

Clare Hopping has been involved in the recruitment of both full-time employees and freelance staff for ten years. She specialises in recruiting staff via social media and digital platforms.