UK retail sector shows signs of recovery highest numbers of hires in September

Recruitment software business, Occupop has weighed in on the discussion around how the retail sector is faring in the wake of the pandemic, while it still suffers the consequences of Brexit. Occupop has compiled a report that highlights the numerous and complex issues facing the sector, but after a wave of bad news they have also found some positives.

The report showed that while there are staff shortages across the industry, September has finally shown a turning point, with the highest number of hires so far this year.

As businesses emerge from the trauma of the pandemic, rebuilding a workforce has proven to be one of the biggest challenges, with demand for retail workers at a 23 year high, and a qualified labour pool shrinking at its fastest level in four years.

Commenting on the situation, Co-Founder of Occupop, Caroline Gleeson said: “The retail sector is pivotal to any thriving economy, so some of the facts and figures from our report have raised concern. However, seeing an uptick in applications, and the fact that this seems to be gaining momentum, well this is very welcome news indeed.”

She continued: “The retail staffing challenge is significant, but the changes that need to be made are surprisingly, even refreshingly clear for employers. The pandemic period has culminated in ‘The Great Reset’ of workers’ attitudes in retail. Expectations have risen and retail workers want and (are able to find), better pay, better conditions, more flexibility /or greater well-being in other sectors.”

So, how can employers attract, and crucially, retain talent across the industry;

Greater Emphasis on Workplace Wellbeing

Well-being in the workplace and has become crucial since the pandemic began and existing workers and job candidates want to know their employer cares about their mental health.

This means that a functioning well-being policy has become vital for any retailer looking to attract new retail talent.

Weekly Bonuses

Many retailers are implementing a weekly bonus scheme to reward employees for targets hit – this will be particularly key as we approach the upcoming holiday season when sales should be strongest.

Hybrid Working for Office-Based Retail Staff

While many businesses calling employees back into the office, the post pandemic worker has new expectations for a work / life balance. Offering office-based retail staff a hybrid working arrangement can only serve to benefit employers as they look to rebuild their workforce.

Educational assistance; immediate starts; sign on perks and accelerated hiring process are other innovative ways that big retailers are using to win employees over. It is only a matter of time, and perhaps is even a necessity, that smaller independent businesses will soon do the same.