Retail and hospitality are being hampered by the same dilemma – a labour drought. The lifting of lockdown has led to a surge for staff, and new data suggests that 9 in 10 hospitality businesses expect to have staff shortages this year. But with unemployment numbers high, why is this such a quandary?
According to KPMG the demand for workers increased at the fastest rate for over 23 years…Despite this demand, the data suggests that the supply of trained staff into these sectors is shrinking fast. The shortages are largely due to the ongoing pandemic uncertainty along with the impact of Brexit, seeing a sharp fall in workers from the EU who would normally have fulfilled the needs of these sectors.
According to The Telegraph the labour crisis is deepening due to many workers returning to the EU during the pandemic and not returning to the UK. This means that the competition for workers is exceptionally high and the lack of staff will hamper recovery for both sectors.
In addition, these industries have a reputation for being the more challenging industries to recruit for. With a reputation for unsociable hours, rates of pay, lack of flexibility with shifts, seasonality, challenging customers and lack of job security, these all contribute to high staff turnover.
So, what are the options? Businesses are looking for new and ingenious ways of attracting and retaining staff. The new graduate visa scheme may be attractive to some employers seeking new graduates, but many are looking for operational solutions.
Getting the balance right
Delivering the right customer experience with the right product or service at the right time and place is obvious. The challenge is to get the right staff, with the right training and experience to deliver the best customer service in a cost-effective way. You need accurate people data that monitors right to work, tracks absence along with skills and training and availability. Getting the balance right to ensure people are not scheduled inappropriately, not exceeding working hours and are engaged. There’s a fine line between having the right number of staff, but not too many, for the predicted footfall.
Predictions of peaks and troughs, along with seasonal variations need to be right – and that’s not easy. Operational efficiency is all well and good from a business perspective, but how does that feel if you are a member of staff? Frustrations for staff come from being too busy and over-worked, or too quiet and time drags, or not sufficiently trained. If these factors persist, staff quickly become despondent and start looking elsewhere.
The reality is this all comes back to your people and how to attract and retain the talent you need. These industry sectors also rely heavily on a younger demographic, with around one third of these workers under the age of 25 (The Retail Appointment), which means attracting students, who will naturally move on after a season or a few years.
Win the race for talent – rethink your approach
If you’re looking to hire the younger generation, you need to think a little differently – millennials and Gen Z er’s don’t see work the way baby boomers do. They tend to believe in job mobility, they’re expecting a digital experience and immediacy. That means you NEED to think digital-first in everything you do, when it comes to your people.
Flexible working hours are also going to appeal, and they are also looking for a better work-life balance too. They want something different to their parents. So, if you want to appeal to this younger audience, and lets face it you cant afford not to, you need to think, mobile-first and self-service.
Every step of the recruitment process through to onboarding and training needs to be digitally enabled, single sign-on – just like a smart phone or any number of the social media channels they are using. Intuitive, visual and make them feel empowered. No longer is this a nice to have, its essential – its not the expensive add on, its business imperative. Without this approach, staff will simply move on even faster.
Catch-22 with onboarding and training
Its either a catch-22 or it’s a vicious circle… Imagine you are short of staff and once you find your new talent you need to onboard them fast. That burden sits with your existing staff, who have more experience, but are already stretched. Existing staff can quickly become disenchanted that the onboarding and training burden sits with them, giving them even more work. This is a significant pressure point for everyone, because pulling experienced staff away from their existing roles to train, means you have less skilled staff to manage customer experience and the everyday operations. The risk is the training is not comprehensive and new staff are not fully trained, that will impact your sales and your customer experience.
Faster onboarding is key to overcoming the vicious circle. Implementing single log-in and digital contract signing means greater efficiency and you can start the onboarding process early. No duplication or additional manual keying. You can provide access to training modules, staff manuals and communication ahead of time. Create a warm and welcoming experience prior to day one.
Secrets of talent management
Imagine giving staff flexibility, without compromising the business need? Sound too good to be true? The retail and hospitality sectors rely heavily on the physical presence of their staff on location, with a limited percentage of the overall workforce being able to work remotely or from home.
If you’re a multi-site business, you can offer staff a shift locator option. All part of the employee self-service experience that allows staff to access the number of shifts available over multiple sites and franchises and select the ones they want to work. This can be layered with staff skills and training to make sure staff only select the shifts and roles they are trained for. What’s really neat is making sure staff don’t exceed their weekly working hours – keeping everyone safe and compliant.
A map can show green for shifts that are available, so staff can easily see where shifts are available.
Flexibility is key
Flexibility is just as important. If you’ve ever been involved with workforce planning and scheduling you know what a headache that can be, and just how long this takes. Once you’ve issued your schedules and rotas for the week ahead based on weather, location, sales, anticipated footfall and the blend of skills you need, the inevitable happens – staff want to swap and change. This is what your people want, to enable them to better manage their home-life balance, child care and other personal circumstances. So why not make it easy to allow them to swap. Automation is the hero here. Making scheduling easier and faster as well as simplifying the ability to swap based on skills, training, legal requirements, working hours and skill set blend needed on any shift.
Empower your people to swap shifts, apply for more shifts and adjust their working week to suit their personal circumstances. Not only will your staff be happier, but you can significantly increase your staff retention rate. Time spent scheduling can be reduced by up to 80% when you use automation. You are not losing control, your gaining control, winning more time and the big win is happier staff and a higher retention rates.
The guilty secret
HR technology is not from Harry Potter’s Dark Arts class, it’s the hero and the solution. Enabling hospitality and retail to do more with less, but more importantly helping them attract, train and retain much needed talent.
Successful businesses are adopting HR software which enables reduction in staff turnover. You’ll empower them, give them flexibility and improve profits and margins.
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