The great resignation left almost no industry unscathed over the last two years. Retail saw one of the most staggering exoduses, rivaling only the food services and healthcare sectors. The latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed 1.3 million unfilled retail jobs in February 2022, up 27% from February 2021. However, despite a 25% increase in hiring from February 2021 to February 2022, open jobs and separations are still outpacing retailers’ abilities to fill the roles.
Amid this new reality, retailers need to consider new strategies to hire and retain warehouse workers. The good news is that retailers can make simple changes to rapidly improve their monthly retention rate.
Consider Every Angle to Attract and Retain Warehouse Talent
When it comes to increasing labor capabilities, retailers must pull every possible lever to retain warehouse workers and diligently hire more.
Compensation: When it comes to full-time staff, nearly 60% say salary is key to feeling fulfilled in their position. Hourly workers feel the same, which may be why 95% of employers reported paying these staff members above the federal minimum wage. For example, Amazon raised its average pay for warehouse workers to $18 per hour. Similarly, Target recently announced a $300 million commitment to boosting benefits and is offering $24 per hour in some regions. Still, many retail, wholesale and logistics companies are lagging behind, reporting a minimum internal salary between $10 and $11.99 per hour. Therein may lie one of retail’s most significant drawbacks in attracting and retaining employees.
Retailers can also consider special cash incentives, like signing bonuses, paid hourly time off, paid lunches, referral bonuses and gas cards. These perks can be more enticing than a 401K because they offer immediate financial upside.
Benefits: Comprehensive benefits are another way to attract and retain talent. According to an Appcast survey, jobs listed with at least four “non-cash benefits” saw a 20% improvement in recruiting.
- Insurance – Instead of waiting 30 to 90 days to provide healthcare, employers can start offering these benefits on day one and negotiate with healthcare providers to lower costs. Some companies have committed to paying 75% to 100% of healthcare premiums, relieving a significant burden for many and leading to a more loyal workforce.
- Discounts – Access to discounted merchandise is a simple, low-cost strategy any retailer can employ. For instance, Lowe’s offers a 10% discount on merchandise plus other discounts on cell phone plans, car insurance, gyms and computers. Likewise, Walmart says its associates can save up to $4,900 every year and also offers 50% off tickets to zoos and aquariums, 40% off movie tickets and car buying assistance.
- Flexible shifts – Today, flexibility is critical, even for warehouse jobs. That means retailers must consider allowing employees to work desired shifts (evening, day or weekend), increasing pay for peak seasons or holiday work, and adding more paid time off or sick days so that teammates aren’t forced to leave their job because they have a sick child at home with no access to childcare.
Temporary to permanent staff ratio: Staffing retail warehouses with temporary workers is common, especially during seasonal peaks. Temporary workers are critical, but retailers should look to boost full-time staff wherever possible. goTRG’s data shows that warehouse facilities typically maintained a higher ratio of temporary to full-time workers before the pandemic. Now, many organizations strive for the opposite. Permanent employees have more financial security and less stress, enhancing their overall performance and motivation while inspiring them to develop long-term relationships and team-oriented mindsets.
Onboarding and Managerial Support: The quicker new hires feel welcomed and prepared for their roles, the more successful they will be. Engaged workers are 87% less likely to leave, so managers must help workers understand why their jobs matter and how they impact the company’s bottom line. Managers can do this by tracking and displaying key metrics like orders processed per day, inventory levels and customer satisfaction scores. Thus, creating a welcome program and offering meaningful mentorship represent low-cost opportunities for employers to retain their supply chain teams for the long term.
There is no denying that the retail industry faces some of the biggest obstacles compared to other sectors. By taking small steps to improve employee retention rates, retailers demonstrate to their teams that they care more about people than profits. And ultimately, that signal will lead to a more stable and more productive environment.
Steve Rop is the COO at goTRG. In this role he is responsible for goTRG’s day-to-day business operations and enterprise client end-to-end experience, solutions, and innovations. Rop brings nearly 25 years of experience leading client-facing and operations departments across multiple industries. Prior to goTRG, Rop held Chief Operating Officer roles at a $400M logistics provider as well as a $900M multi-national retailer. Prior to these roles, he was responsible for Client Services and Business Development at Liquidity Services, Inc.