Finding and Keeping Great People

Pop into your local town centre, or look online, and you’ll see countless adverts for jobs in hospitality. Pubs, hotels and restaurants are facing acute staff shortages with the continuation of the furlough scheme until September, the loss of some potential workers from the EU who may feel less able or inclined to come to work in post-Brexit Britain, and the additional time lags and hassle brought about by Covid testing regimes. All this adds up to another blow to hospitality which is of course at the sharp end of the pandemic in any case.

I’m wishing all the best to friends and colleagues in the hospitality industry, but I’m most concerned about what the knock-on impacts of this might be for convenience stores. Firstly, we’re already experiencing these challenges through our supply chains. All the factors above, plus delays at the DVLA and a spike in demand for haulage and wholesale services to shops and the hospitality sector, are causing delays and shortages in deliveries to many convenience stores. There’s no easy way around this, there may be contingencies involving the army which feels like a hard to thing to do in practice, I can’t see any changes to freedom of movement rules (however limited) but I can’t see any good reason why the government wouldn’t extend driver hours as they did last year at the peak of the first wave when extra capacity was needed to get product into stores to meet a surge in food retail demand.

There’s another impact on stores: the pool of talent in which we fish is to a large extent the same as the one used by hospitality and a host of other sectors. We attract people who want flexible work to fit around other commitments and people who want to build a career in public-facing, service-driven roles. So logically, if your local pub and restaurant is offering more money and better terms for their staff, you may need to do the same to keep your colleagues and remain competitive. This will vary a lot depending on the location and your colleague profile, but we should start seeing this effect in the coming weeks.

So what do we do about these market forces? My golden rule is always to start small and start local, initially by looking at your colleagues and what they want from you as an employer. We know from our Colleague Survey that staff value flexibility, the proximity of work to their homes, training and development, and the community benefit they deliver through their work. Play to these strengths, maybe through some lower cost initiatives like paid volunteering time (only offered to 2% of convenience colleagues now) training focused on them as individuals as well as the business, increased staff discounts and other ways of linking colleagues to the store.

Then look at your potential colleagues, and where you can offer a point of difference. 12% of convenience store colleagues are over 60 years old. Of course some older people will be looking at roles in other sectors too, but I would view this market as less competitive than the younger colleagues who tend to gravitate to hospitality. Could you build your base of potential colleagues through good existing staff recommending friends and relatives and being incentivised to do so? Could you use social media and in-store communications to present the benefits of working in your business, maybe getting existing colleagues to talk about what they like about their jobs? Note that 64% of colleagues applied for their job in store. Could you use older colleagues as the face of your business, not just for customers, but to send the message that you welcome and work effectively with older staff?

A bit of thinking now could help you weather a stormy labour market over the coming months, and leave you with an even better workforce for the future.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Thu, 17/06/2021 - 12:41