In the past, if you inquired of an HR professional on the most significant HR challenges facing retail, most likely, they’d have named the issue of employee turnover and the fierce battle for talent. However, those worries disappeared as COVID-19 was announced as an array of brand-new and unique problems.

The departure of critical employees attracted by promises of better money from rivals was eclipsed by a more significant crisis triggered by the events of the Great Resignation and technology’s rapid transformation.

The shift to e-commerce was already in full swing before the outbreak began. The rapid growth of e-commerce was because of the closure of stores that were not essential. After the reopening of several establishments, the effects of the pandemic and the absence of vaccines against COVID-19 left most customers concerned about their health and hesitant about going to their homes. The retail industry was at a crossroads.

Despite the epidemic’s obstacles, a few fundamentals are still in place. Amid uncertainty in the revenue stream, companies have to decide who to return and when. Engagement and culture remain essential components of a happy and productive workplace. Training is still vital. However, it is now incorporating guidelines for remote workers and frontline employees concerned about infections.

Retailers are adapting to the new ways of shopping and working. HR must show empathy and flexibility. Let’s look at some of the most pressing issues facing the Retail HR industry and the best way to address them.

Top HR problems in retail. And how do you solve them?

Staffing shortages can be addressed through recruitment and retention. Recruitment and keeping employees are among the main challenges faced by HR in the retail industry over the last few years. Based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail sector has the second-highest vacant positions in any industry, with over 10 million job openings.

According to a Zipline survey, 42 % of retail employees are considering or planning to quit the retail industry. This is primarily due to an inability to communicate between the corporate headquarters and the employees on the floor, which causes employees to feel disengaged, ignored, and disconnected from the business.

Salary and benefits increases are a constant source of appreciation. But, they are no longer enough to differentiate an organization from its rivals. The employees are now demanding more from their work environment.

In addition, the epidemic has raised awareness about employees’ mental health. As per the American Psychological Association, 78 percent of employees suffer from severe stress. The psychological impacts of the epidemic manifest themselves through an increase in drug addiction, domestic violence, and suicides.

Companies paying for HR issues within the retail industry are starting to emphasize workers’ psychological well-being- by appointing a Director for well-being and offering health-related benefits that can ease the burden during challenging moments.

Safety of employees

Based on the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, Retail increased employment by 135,000 in December 2020 but reduced employment by 38,000 during January 2021. In addition to job loss, COVID-19 has raised concerns regarding the safety of employees, with employees working in frontline retail being exposed to the disease.

Employee safety will continue to be retailers’ top concern in the years to come. To ensure the safety and well-being of employees and customers, HR is charged with conducting regular research and implementing modern and up-to-date security measures when needed. This includes cleaning the workplaces regularly, ensuring that employees have their cleaning materials for their shifts, and operating the business in a way that minimizes or minimizes contact.

Define the role of HR within the organization

HR departments are now an integral part of every company and essential business partner. However, one of the most significant HR issues in the retail sector has been that the HR Business Partners (HRBPs) frequently take the approach of being reactive and waiting for orders from the management. Instead, we should work to become more proactive and develop solutions based on data.

To achieve that, professionals in HR need to be focused on transforming into T-shaped. This implies they are skilled in at least one HR function competence, like acquiring talent or L&D, and the four essential HR skills of business acumen, data literacy, people advocacy, and digital competence.

Combining these skills will allow HR professionals to communicate with business people effectively. In turn, they’ll be relevant in a constantly changing business environment and aid their organization in achieving the business goals through constant improvement, which improves the bottom line.

Giving employees a digital experience

76% of workers in retail believe that embracing digital processes will increase their productivity. HR professionals must be adept with technology to offer the pleasant digital experience that workers are now demanding. While providing this kind of experience is a significant HR issue in the retail industries, HR specialists need to be attentive to their employees and ask questions to understand what the needs of employees are the most important. Employees feel heard, appreciated, and part of the company.

Thanks to the advancement of technology and readily available data analytics for retail, the retail industry is rapidly changing. The pandemic has made this process faster than we expected. Employers must consider the new skills workers require to complete various tasks and jobs. For example, platforms to schedule or manage, mobile messaging, pay-per-view platforms, and education and training platforms.

Additionally, offering extensive development and training ensures employees’ employment is secured. Employees have access to the training they need throughout their shift, tailored to each individual’s requirements, using a user-friendly and fun application.

By Vicki

‘HR Shopper’ has a 10 years of experience in management and HR in top 2 global MNC’s. Understanding the employee needs as well as organization productivity she adopts the techniques that create perfect balance satisfying the needs of both.

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