WhereNext

Retailers Attempt to Staff Up for the Holiday Rush

Finding retail workers to accommodate holiday crowds is going to be tough this year. A booming economy means a smaller labor pool from which to draw staff for peak shopping season, according to the CNBC article “Retailers are hiring for the holidays, but are there enough workers?”

To boost the chances of finding holiday staffing, some retailers may use employee incentives and location intelligence technology in their recruitment efforts.

Retailers already understand that locating their best customers is key to business growth. But what about locating the best job candidates and employees? Beating the competition and improving the bottom line depends as much on staff as it does on customers—especially when the cost of replacing an employee averages nine months of salary.

Now, with the US unemployment rate near a 50-year low and many employers reporting difficulty filling open positions, retail companies face a significant holiday challenge. According to Deloitte, retailers expect to hire 5% more seasonal workers this holiday season than last. Target will bring on 120,000 seasonal workers, a year-over-year increase of more than 20%. Macy’s, Kohls, Best Buy, and others have also announced plans to increase holiday hiring in 2018.

Wooing Staff with Incentives

According to CNBC, retailers are stepping up perks and offering higher-than-average starting wages to attract employees. Macy’s will give seasonal workers performance-based bonuses previously available only to full-time employees. JCPenney’s is going as far as offering seasonal employees a week of paid time off during their employment.

Incentives like those and Target’s $12 hourly starting salary are likely to raise the holiday tide. But retailers still face a mammoth task in finding employees to handle customer demand for the next few months. Indeed, many businesses are already having problems filling regular job openings, and we haven’t yet reached the holiday shopping rush when retailers will need to flex up dramatically.

Smarter Recruiting

In the search for qualified holiday staff, innovative retailers will turn to the location intelligence tools they’ve traditionally used to reach customers. In the article “Economy Gives Employees Power to Choose,” Esri’s Helen Thompson writes that geographic information system (GIS) technology can act as a competitive intelligence tool and information resource for finding staff near retail locations:

With access to data such as median housing prices, education levels of the available workforce, and commute times for prospective employees, employers can understand how well their salaries compare to those in other geographies where employers are competing for the same talent pool.

With location intelligence tools, HR executives can examine demographic and cost-of-living data to identify geographic areas with promising candidates. In addition, areas with good access to public transportation can be prioritized on smart maps, helping to ensure job accessibility for seasonal workers.

In a perfect world, full employment wouldn’t be a problem for employers. But this holiday season, it will present a formidable challenge to retailers across the country. Businesses that employ location intelligence for smarter staff prospecting may gain a competitive advantage—a skilled and full workforce—during retail’s most critical season.

About

Gary Sankary joined Esri in 2014 as a subject matter expert in retail after spending 30 years in the industry. Gary’s retail career started in his parent’s family business more than 40 years ago. Along the way he had an opportunity to work with Cost Plus Imports, Mervyn’s and Target Corp. where he led a number of cross-functional teams developing technology and business process strategies to support store and digital merchandising initiatives.

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