By Diana Jones

Post Pandemic Hiring Solutions

Have you visited a local establishment lately and seen a sign that says, “Be Kind! We are short-staffed.”? Do you already have this sign in your window? If not, maybe now is the time to put one up — it may at least remind people to be patient and gracious .

Smart Retailer polled retail storeowners and discovered 70% of the respondents were having a difficult time finding employees. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering that almost every industry in the United States is struggling to find high-quality workers. When asked why they were having a hard time finding employees, the two reasons cited most often by storeowners were lack of applicants and other employers in the area offering higher starting wages.

Many retailers shared their frustration about seeing a lack of quality candidates.

  • “People truly do not want to work. After two years of not having to work, it is quite challenging to get back into the swing of things. I was talking to a psychologist recently and she said many of her clients are discussing that they just can’t get back to working and are struggling with it.”
  • “No one seems to want to work or [they want to] work and not have to do the workload! What has happened to work hard and earn a paycheck — no handouts!”
  • “We downsized our business due to the increase in payroll taxes and lack of quality candidates — the problem is a lack of work ethic and motivation.”
  • “Employees are looking for the ‘perfect’ job. With so many jobs available, if they have a bad day, they just quit and go on to the next business.”

Retailers shared some of the expectations applicants have that the storeowners think are unreasonable.

  • “Applicants want higher pay than we are able to provide at this time and don’t want to work the schedule required for our business.”
  • “They have it in their mind they need $15/hour for an entry-level job. I tell them they can earn their way to that.”
  • “People have just gotten lazy. When they do show up, they want to play on their phone, they don’t want to wait on people, they don’t want to clean. People forget that entry-level jobs were not meant to make a living. They are to teach you how to work, they help the retired get some extra money, they help the person getting back into the workforce learn skills.”

Tips and Tricks to Grab Employees

In spite of the current obstacles, 12% of respondents reported they increased their starting wage as a way to attract qualified candidates.

Here is a list of other ideas to consider for your store.

Hiring bonuses work if you can afford it. One storeowner said they give a bonus to a new hire at the six-month employment mark. Others provide a bonus to a current worker who brings in a new employee that stays for a certain amount of time. Some retailers provide bonuses to both the new worker and the employee who recommended them once they have been there for a specified amount of time.

Ask frequent customers who love the shop if they want a job. One storeowner said, “I always ask customers who already love our shop if they would like to work with us. Most times it’s a yes! I also ask customers that are retired. They all work one to two days a week so it’s no big work stress for anyone. I give them 20% off their purchases and I feel I’m a good person to work with. None of my staff work to pay bills, unless it’s for what they buy when they work!”

Provide a flexible schedule, allowing time off for the “Kodak Moments” in life. One store shared that they guarantee day-off requests will always be approved.

Offer benefits (health, life, retirement, etc.). This might be difficult to add to your list, especially if you only have a few employees, but there are options where the company provides the means, but the employee pays the premium out of their paychecks. Reaching out to a human resources company or insurance broker would be a good place to start.

Provide a generous employee discount on merchandise. Many storeowners said this is part of the package they offer, and it is usually included with other items to sweeten the deal.

Provide a good work environment. This is almost a no-brainer and not necessarily a seller at the job interview, but if you have a good reputation as a great place to work, it might land you some good employees. One retailer said, “We have a great reputation as an employer. We simply post an opening on our Facebook page.” Another said, “I thank them [my employees] often and bring in treats or drinks at random times. I give them a gift card to a local restaurant for their birthday and send a cookie card on their work anniversary. On the store anniversary, I pay for a nice meal out for everyone and at Christmas we do a meal out and a very nice gift for everyone. I’m very thankful for all of them.”

Diana Jones is the owner/publisher of Smart Retailer and seven other brands at JP Media LLC. She has worked as a manager/human resource officer for over 20 years and loves to share her experiences running a small business.