Flexibility is No. 1 issue for U.S. retail workers

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Flexibility is No. 1 issue for U.S. retail workers

By Gina Acosta - 10/19/2017

U.S. retail candidates value shorter work weeks and flexible shift patterns over compensation and benefits, according to new research from the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

A report issued by by RILA and ManpowerGroup Solutions called, "Inside the Heads of Job Seekers: U.S. Retail Candidate Preferences," provides retail employers insights and practical tips on how to attract and retain workers by offering NextGen flexible work practices and new ways to appeal to candidates.

This research is timely for the industry: Retail roles are the third hardest job to fill in the U.S. Talent shortages continue to escalate as retail work competes with the gig economy (including  platform work like Uber) to attract workers seeking flexibility. 

ManpowerGroup Solutions surveyed nearly 1,500 retail workers across the U.S. on how they want to work and found candidates want flexibility, or they'll go elsewhere. Unlike other industries where compensation is ranked as the top motivator, retail candidates rank type of work and schedule flexibility as the top two reasons they seek retail employment.

"Employers across the U.S. are experiencing talent shortages and retailers are not immune. The retail industry is competing for workers who seek new ways of working, value flexibility and the ability to choose their own schedule," said Jim McCoy, Vice President of ManpowerGroup Solutions RPO and Global Practice Leader. "To attract the brightest and best, employers need to develop an attractive employer brand and demonstrate that they can offer people flexibility,, the option to better blend work and home, and the opportunity to develop their skills."

Twice as many retail candidates want part time work than any other industry and 31 percent of retail workers also prefer to choose their own shifts versus 18 percent across other industries.

"As one of the nation's largest employers providing careers and opportunities to over 42 million Americans, the retail industry must continue to adopt hiring practices that offer employees the balance and flexibility they crave," said Evan Armstrong, Vice President of Government Affairs at Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). "We are pleased to partner with ManpowerGroup Solutions to help the industry innovate as the marketplace for job-seekers becomes more tech-forward and candidates are prioritizing flexible and innovative work arrangements."

ManpowerGroup Solutions shares key recommendations to engage candidates in the lead up to the busy retail holiday period and beyond:

  • Limber Up. Retail candidates value flexible working, and that's not just part-time jobs. Prioritizing workplace flexibility, supported by technology, will enable managers and employees to have a say in scheduling.
  • Diversify. Apply your market segmentation strategy to recruiting employees. Programs targeted at specific groups will open up new talent pools. For example, attract students with a well-crafted, flexible, term-time offer to build a steady pipeline of workers with in demand skills.
  • Collaborate. The retail industry depends on a part-time workforce to meet seasonal demands, and collaborative hiring platforms and communities — like ManpowerGroup Solutions' WorkMyWay network — provide access to on-tap talent seeking flexibility.
  • Ping and Push. Sixty-seven percent of retail candidates want to be contacted two to four times per month by potential employers. With 86 percent of retail candidates using Facebook and 52 percent on Instagram, social media is an effective and efficient way to keep your brand front of mind, and push information about job opportunities direct to candidates.