Most retailers are facing a significant increase in their wage budget from this January. This increase, coupled with additional sick days, the upcoming new February bank holiday costs and imminent pension auto-enrolment is forcing employers to look at more creative ways of attracting and retaining staff that won’t break the bank. We have seen that whilst staff won’t stay in a job where they feel undervalued or underpaid, money is not the main driving factor most employees consider when making a move.
With this in mind, we have reached out to various retailers and retail managers across the grocery industry to provide a list of bonuses and benefits you can consider adding to your package which may help when it comes to attracting new staff as well as retaining your current team.
Work Life Balance
This comes in the form of advanced rotas, flexible shifts, remote or hybrid working patterns, scheduling weekend off rotations, reduced contract hours, or job sharing. The focus on Work-life balance has never been higher – with more and more candidates citing this as their main motivating factor when looking for a move. Whilst remote working is often not a viable option in our sector, many retailers have been working to improve contracted hours or offer a little more flexibility to their teams, and have been reaping the rewards of lower staff turnover as a result.
Company car and fuel allowance are not always viable benefits you can offer. But the bike to work and the Annual Tax Saver Travel schemes are benefits most businesses can offer at a relatively low cost which add real value to their workforce. I’ve seen roles that require travel advertised without the mention of a car, mileage or fuel allowance. Only to find out these roles offered fully expensed company vehicles, but they had not thought to include this as a perk in their job ad. I’m confident this would have deterred numerous suitable candidates from applying.
Many retailers offer in-store staff discounts, ranging from free or subsidized lunches or coffees to 20% off their weekly shop. However, these discounts are often only disclosed when a new employee starts – rather than as part of the advertising campaign or even offer letter. Another great and highly valued perk comes in the form of group discounts. It is often worth reaching out to local businesses and asking if they will offer a small discount for your staff in return for the same for theirs. Many local gyms will also offer discounts when approached and being able to offer discounted or subsided gym membership is a substantial perk to many. I have seen discounts on everything from childcare and chemists to driving lessons and bakeries – it takes a little leg work but definitely worth the effort!
Annual leave can be a deal breaker for many candidates when it comes to accepting a new role. Increasing annual leave with length of service is a wonderful way of rewarding and retaining those with the most experience in your business. “Birthday days off” is another benefit that has a significant impact on culture and retention. A number of retailers give their staff one additional day’s leave to be taken on their birthday. Obviously this incurs a cost to the store, but this novel incentive has such a positive impact on staff that I think it’s a worthwhile one to consider.
Employee Engagement Initiatives
These are less tangible and usually less costly, but that’s not to say they are any less impactful. Arranging initiatives or small incentives to keep employees feeling appreciated or part of a team goes a long way. Ideas here range from birthday cakes and celebrations to involving store staff in charity walks, fundraising drives, or community clean-ups. Employee recognition schemes – from €5 store vouchers for “staff member of the day” to employee awards events add to the sense of accomplishment and teamwork in most businesses and are a great way to build a positive culture in which people are reluctant to leave! Perhaps include Christmas parties or team bonding events to your list of benefits, if this is something you offer. Or maybe something to consider if you don’t.
Don’t forget to include all those benefits employees can now avail of – regardless of whether they are something your business started or which is now mandated, such as sick pay, upcoming pensions, maternity leave, paternity leave, or parental leave.
Many employers are offering Employee assistant programs or mental health days. Others offer discounts on doctor’s or dental visits. Healthcare insurance can be an overburdening cost to many retailers, but you may find – with a little research – a health insurer willing to offer a small discount to your staff.
Nearly all the retailers I speak with offer excellent training and development as well as ample opportunities for growth and career development. This is certainly a perk worth shouting about as it is one of the highest-ranked benefits cited by employees looking for a move. If you offer mentoring and coaching to new employees, access to e-learning platforms, or indeed the opportunity to avail of further education it’s definitely worth shouting about.
Every Little Counts
In my experience, it’s worth listing every benefit you can offer – it really may be the difference between someone accepting or declining your job, or indeed the difference in one of your team accepting or declining a job offer from a competitor! Feel free to list everything from “free parking” and “free uniform” to “great location” and “competitive pay rates” – as they say – every little helps!
Shout it from the Rooftops (or Store Fronts)
It’s worth noting that the retailers who are most successful at attracting talent directly are the ones who shout loudest about their benefits. If you go onto the website of some of the most well-known value retailers, you will see their benefits highlighted on every page. Yet many other retailers offer similar if not better benefits and they are nearly a secret! My advice, for what it’s worth, is to list every single benefit – from statutory sick days, training programs, and EAP to Bike to Work and free coffees. It makes potential new hires take notice and potential leavers think twice!
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