Nearly all retailers report difficulty in hiring

Marianne Wilson
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The country’s labor crunch is hitting retailers hard.

Nearly all (94%) retailers said they were having difficulty filling vacant roles, and 32% reported they face significant hiring challenges, according to a new Korn Ferry survey. Nearly a third (32%) have implemented a referral program to help in hiring, and 29% are offering sign-on bonuses.

“Retail hiring is intensely competitive today, and to win the war for talent, companies must create a positive employer brand that is genuine and consistent for all employees,” said Craig Rowley. senior client partner and retail expert, Korn Ferry. “Right now in the U.S. there are an inordinate amount of job openings overall, so retailers have to be creative in how they attract and retain talent.” 

Despite the issues facing the retail industry, there is bright news. Eighty percent of respondents said they expect a rise in sales in 2021 and 62% believe fall sales will be higher than spring sales.

In other findings, the survey revealed that amid the increase in awareness on the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) during the past year, a small number retailers are beginning to include DE&I incentive metrics in their compensation plans. 

Of the more than 50 major U.S. retailers surveyed, only 9% said DE&I metrics are included as part of their compensation packages. Only 3% said they include environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics that are not focused on DE&I. However, almost no retailers used these metrics just two years ago.

“It is critical that companies recognize this and consider linking executive compensation to performance metrics that go beyond traditional measures of profit and shareholder value,” said Rowley. “New metrics tied to diversity and inclusion and related ESG priorities better reflect emerging priorities for their customers and the world around them.”