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Study: Flexible work schedules most important to retail job seekers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retail candidates across the nation value shorter work weeks and flexible shift patterns over compensation and benefits. Retail candidates across the nation value shorter work weeks and flexible shift patterns over compensation and benefits.

This was according to “Inside the Heads of Job Seekers: U.S. Retail Candidate Preferences,” a study from ManpowerGroup Solutions, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). The study surveyed nearly 1,500 retail workers across the United States.

Retail roles are the third hardest job to fill in the U.S., and the talent shortage will continue to escalate as the gig economy (a marketplace based on short-term contracts and freelancers) attracts workers seeking flexibility. This mindset is also influencing retail candidates’ expectations.

For example, job seekers rank schedule flexibility and type of work as the top two reasons why they want to work in retail. Flexibility is so important that twice as many retail candidates want part time work than any other industry. Meanwhile, 31% of retail workers also prefer to choose their own shifts versus 18% of employees across other industries.

“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, VP 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.”

To ensure retailers engage with the best talent —  for the busy holiday period and beyond — retailers should consider the following strategies:

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 provide access to on-tap talent seeking flexibility.

Ping and Push. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of retail candidates want to be contacted two to four times per month by potential employers. With 86% of retail candidates using Facebook and 52% 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.

“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, VP of government affairs at RILA. “The industry must innovate as the marketplace for job-seekers becomes more tech-forward and candidates are prioritizing flexible and innovative work arrangements.”

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