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Retail HR Summit [How can retail retain talent] in partnership with Elucidat

Retailers are having to be increasingly smart in order to attract new employees into their businesses during this period of chronic shortages of available people and… View Article


Retail HR Summit [How can retail retain talent] in partnership with Elucidat

Retailers are having to be increasingly smart in order to attract new employees into their businesses during this period of chronic shortages of available people and rising levels of open positions across all sectors of the economy.

Speaking during session number two of

The Retail Bulletin HR Summit 2021 webinar Kirstie Greany, head of customer learning at authoring platform Elucidat, suggested the recruitment process should start with what she describes as ‘pre-boarding’.

Introducing pre-boarding

“We’ve an advocacy programme with our employees that captures ‘a day in the life’ stories that we then make available to potential employees. It’s almost like pre-boarding. We allow people in the business to use their phones to capture what they do in their job. This gives people access to information that helps things to work out for them from day one. We give them this access before their start date so they can see how to do the job,” she explains.

Emma James, head of internal comms and engagement at Moto Hospitality, has also worked hard to better target the most relevant people for her organisation. “It’s very competitive and so we’ve looked at the employee value proposition – who really wants to join us? Students like the 24-hour flexibility while the brands we have like Costa, KFC and Greggs, some people want to work with them.”

The company has also talked to its existing colleagues to determine what they love about their roles and also harnessed the culture of the business as part of the task of defining the purpose of the organisation. This is particularly important as the front-line employees are predominantly young and very much value these factors.

Seeking out relevant values and passion

Having determining its purpose and values this is fed into the recruitment process that involves one interview around the role and another around the values of the business: “We’ve put a focus on this in order to avoid bringing in the wrong people or bringing them into the business too early in the process.”

The value of such procedures is certainly recognised by Pauline Whiteman, senior HR Fellow at The Walt Disney Company, who says she has a particular focus on seeking out people who have a passion. “At Disney you don’t just sell a bear. It’s Winnie the Pooh. We’ve a practical interview to see how they engage with people – the connectivity. We do have some core skills that we focus on but it’s really about the passion,” she explains.

As part of the company’s recruitment procedure Phil Vickers, HR director at Charles Tyrwhitt, says the organisation has partnered with the Princes Trust and the Apprenticeship Scheme. “You should look into your networks. We’ve been looking at who we can bring in on an apprenticeship. You get a longer period with that person and after the 18-months you then hopefully have them for longer,” says Vickers.

Designing out pain points

Once on-board Madeleine Scott, senior talent development partner at Groupon, has been working hard at the retention of employees. From a post-engagement survey the company uses the data to determine what needs to be focused on for each individual: “What are the problems and issues for employees. We then match where people are feeling the pain with new designs. We’ve just designed group coaching sessions with talent partners internally,” she explains.

Rather than one-to-one coaching that can stretch budgets the group has found great value in a group variant involving up to eight people with different topics covered for each session. “We’ve done themes including growing your confidence and building your career. The six sessions involve some pre-work and then they all come together,” says Scott.

Offering employees the opportunity to participate in such courses is vitally important, according to Greany, who says she has found a trend of people seeking out training for extra skills and so if a retailer can provide these courses then it is an opportunity to retain the individual: “It’s about what makes people’s lives easier. Examples include letting people choose their own courses, and mentorship schemes involving them talking to the senior leadership team.”

Don’t forget to surprise and delight

There is also the low cost route to boosting employee retention through the ‘surprise and delight’ method, which for James can involve something as simple as giving an employee with a taste for Percy Pigs from Marks & Spencer a bag of the treats in recognition of their good work. “We’re big on coaching our site managers about personal recognition and it’s filtering through the company. And it does not cost much,” she says.

Catch the recording HERE

By Glynn Davis


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