Given the national employment picture, it’s no surprise that employers are having difficulty filling the ranks all over the country, says Greg Dyer, president of Randstad Commercial Staffing.
“Strong consumer spending and low unemployment, as well as slow wage growth, does create a great opportunity for those looking for work, or just to make some extra money during the holiday season,” Dyer says. “It’s a tight market, particularly in urban areas, and if companies aren’t willing to be creative and take an approach that allows for flexibility and perks, or higher wages, it’s going to be a struggle for them.”
Dyer mentioned Amazon’s announced move to a $15 an hour wage, as well as other retailers upping their pay, as signs that higher salaries are going to be a chief lure to those looking for seasonal and permanent work alike.
“They also may be offering discounts, gift cards, production- and result-oriented bonuses and more, as well as even higher pay for certain shifts,” he adds.
“Retail, supply chain and warehousing jobs are going to be hard to fill without those incentives. And the service industry, where restaurants are going to need staff to handle parties and other bookings that come with a stronger economy, also are going to have to work on incentives as well.”
Randstad tracks hiring figures for multiple large-scale employers, and those early numbers are fairly eye-popping.
Target, for instance, is hiring at 20 percent more than its 2017 numbers and is looking for 120,000 people, he says. That’s in-store, fulfillment center and e-commerce, with other retailers likely staffing up at similar levels.
Retailers also are instituting or upgrading “try before you buy” policies in hopes of getting online customers in stores for returns, and so get as many touches as possible. And automation won’t always save the day.
“Brick and mortar stores are staffed by live people, and online service centers and call centers all are going to have a lot of customer service jobs to fill, because even with technology and chatbots they still need people to respond to those complex online or call-in questions,” he says.
“Automation can only do so much.”
And smaller retailers shouldn’t wring their hands too much, because many people don’t want to work in a large environment.
“Many potential employees want a close relationship, and you can create that and engage at a different level if you are smaller,” Dyer points out.
“You can create that bond with employees along with some perks that a big box can’t offer.”
In the end, he adds, “employers are going to have to be creative. Both they and their employees are proving themselves to each other, and it’s a great time for each side to do their homework and see how they can create a longer-term relationship if they want it.”