Almost all retail leaders ‘worried’ about talent shortages in their business

The study, which came along with a whitepaper released today by Fourth, titled ‘Talent, convenience, and technology: The Retailer’s guide for 2022’, found that the percentage of leaders worried about talent shortages is as high as 100% in firms dealing in attractions, clothing, and automotive spaces.

The whitepaper is made up of insights from two surveys (one of 2,021 UK consumers, and the second of 251 UK retail leaders), and explores what consumers want from retail, what the current challenges facing the industry are, and what 2022 holds for the sector.

When it comes to the main factors causing talent shortages in retail, Fourth’s latest data reveals the following to be the major contributing factors:

  • career changes out of the sector (38%);
  • a lack of correctly skilled employees in the industry (37%);
  • burnout/poor mental health as a result of the pandemic (37%).

These factors vary by company size, with larger retail businesses more likely to cite salary expectations being too high or competitive as the top factor causing talent shortages, compared to smaller retail businesses.

These changes in employees’ pay expectations are likely to be a direct result of job insecurity and mental health ramifications faced by staff during 2020, with retail workers seeking more stability and safety in their work.

“The data shows that retail leaders in the UK are continuing to feel the impacts of the pandemic and Brexit when it comes to talent planning and overall workforce management,” said Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA at Fourth.

“The findings emphasise the need for retailers to use technology solutions to help better manage these challenges, improving scheduling and productivity, and engage with their employees.

“Implementing this technology, including that provided by Fourth, can help retailers manage all HR information and needs in one end-to-end solution, while also providing the data and insights for future planning.”

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Hiring challenges for 2022

Looking forward to 2022, 39% of retailers said finding candidates that will stay in their role long-term, not just for now, would be the biggest hiring challenge.

Meanwhile, hiring the best candidates before our competitors do (37%), and finding the top candidates among large volumes of applications (36%) were found to be similarly common concerns.

What’s more, finding qualified candidates due to talent shortages caused by Brexit is the top concern for clothing businesses (47%); second top challenge for grocers (44%) and automotive businesses (35%); and the third biggest hiring challenge for attractions businesses (35%) and sporting goods retailers (36%).

Operational challenges for 2022

The biggest retail operational challenges predicted for 2022 were found by Fourth to be aligned with the themes of hiring and retention also:

  • communicating consistently with all employees (35%);
  • retaining my best employees by maximising staff engagement (34%);
  • attracting the right talent before our competitors do (32%).

In terms of company size, four in 10 (41%) smaller businesses with 500-999 employees were more likely to cite ‘retaining best employees by maximising staff engagement’ as a top operational challenge, while larger businesses surveyed were more concerned about stock, salary, and scheduling challenges overall.

The new whitepaper released today by Fourth can be found here.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.