August 16th, 2018 | Vincenza Caruso-Valente, Sterling Talent Solutions

Low Unemployment Rate Challenge: Unfilled Jobs and a Candidate-Driven Market

In April 2018, the monthly unemployment numbers hit their lowest rate since April 2000. At 3.9 percent unemployment, jobs are more plentiful than they have been in years. Companies are continuing to hire and create jobs at a steady pace.  According to Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist in an article in Business Insider, “That’s good news for workers, as growing labor shortages in tech, skilled trades, and healthcare are putting more workers in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating for pay — we expect to see more upward pressure on wages throughout summer 2018 as a result.” Although retail chains such as Toys R Us, Babies R Us are going out of business and large retailers such as JCPenney, Kmart, Sears, Macy’s and Walgreens closing stores, the retail industry continues to add jobs each month.

Low Unemployment Rate and the Candidate-Driven Market

Candidates with specialized skills are more in demand creating an intensified competition among employers to hire great talent. For the past few years, the job market has shifted in the applicant’s favor so that it is a candidate-driven market. While this is great news for job-seekers, some industries, such as retail, are having a harder time recruiting and retaining good workers. Retailers are finding it more difficult to fill jobs and many jobs go unfilled. Retailers can’t find the staff to fill seasonal or part-time positions, because full-time positions are available.

Retail jobs are evolving as the industry evolves with the growth of online shopping. According to SHRM, the fastest growing job of the past year in retail is a software developer, while the traditional sales associate role is declining. More tech roles are needed to develop and maintain e-commerce sites and fulfillment centers than ever before.

Tips for Recruiting and Retaining Retail Employees

With all the changes in the retail industry over the past few years, how are retailers meeting their hiring challenges, especially with the busiest retail season just around the corner? Retailers are going “outside of the box” with offers. Many large retailers, such as Walmart, Home Depot, Costco and others have announced wage increases, flexibility and other benefits to attract and keep their employees. Employers are offering career packages for millennials which include work/life balance, career mobility, diverse responsibilities and social responsibility that mirror their values and needs.

Three best practices to recruit and retain employees in the evolving retail industry are:

  • Wage Increases: In order to attract more job-seekers, large retail chains, such as Walmart and Target started to offer higher wages packages.
  • Technology: Millennials are the first 100% digital generation. They like to incorporate tech into everything they do making their work easier and allowing them to give better service. As retail technology, from supply chain processes to inventory programs evolves, millennial workers will learn new skills and adapt to changes to make their workday Younger job-seekers are using their mobile devices when applying for jobs and completing other hiring tasks, such as background screening.
  • Training and Growth: New and existing retail employees are looking for education and tools that will help them learn more on the job. Employees are looking for respect from their peers and managers while also honing their skills allowing them to grow within the organization.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Many companies are offering tuition reimbursement as part of their benefits packages. Organizations participating in the program will have different requirements. However, most programs have the employee pay for the classes up front and then the employer will pay back a portion up to the full amount of the cost.
  • Know Your Competition: In certain markets, retailers need to know about their competitors. Hiring managers must understand where their competition is located, how much they can offer and why candidates could be flocking to others and not staying engaged with their company.

Transparent Candidate Hiring Experience

Applicants are looking for more than just better wages and training in a new job. In the candidate-driven job market, it is becoming more critical for companies to create a better candidate experience during the entire hiring process. An organization needs to be transparent with the candidate during the recruiting to onboarding steps. Keeping an applicant informed of the status of their application, interviews and background screening process will go a long way towards creating and maintaining a brand’s reputation. Criminal background checks and drug screening are intrusive and most candidates do not understand the screening process. The report may contain information bearing on a candidate’s character, general reputation, personal characteristic, mode of living or credit standing. Being transparent during screening is crucial, and it is not just because it is required for a compliance reason, but also to create a positive candidate experience. Businesses are looking to their third-party background screening partners, such as Sterling, to make the hiring process more seamless for their applicants.

Background Checks for Retail Industry

High turnover rates, tight time to hire demands, employee shrinkage, and customer risk are making hiring for retail tougher than ever. With so much competition and readily available positions, it is key for employers to be able to conduct background checks on their employees quickly and accurately, so new employees can get started and onboarding easily. Using the right technology for your employment background checks can affect how quickly you can get your new hire onboarded and started at their new job. Sterling Talent Solutions’ cost-effective and comprehensive retail background check solution will allow companies to meet the time-to-hire requirements with the fastest turnaround times in the industry, give real-time risk alerts and post-employment monitoring, all while managing a business’s adverse action process.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.