In today’s rollercoaster world of grocery retail candidates who start but don’t stay can cause huge disruption to any team or store. We are hearing more stories from retailers who have gone through full recruitment drives, inductions, and training delivery only to be told within the first few months that this new hire is already moving on.
Is this a generational thing? Do today’s candidates have less “staying power” than those in years gone by? Have we shifted to a culture where it’s now acceptable to let your feet do the talking to your employer by leaving a job where you are finding the going tough, or just slightly unpleasant?
So why is this happening? And what, if anything, can or should retailers do to reduce these flighty new starters?
Candidates today certainly have higher expectations than those of previous years. Often what retail staff would have considered as a nice extra, is now a minimum expectation. Many candidates start new roles with skewed expectations of what their actual hours, responsibilities, or place in the businesses will be. Inevitably their expectations are much more favourable than the reality. When faced with this realisation many new starters are choosing to leave their new role and start over, rather than adjust or compromise. In most instances, ensuring full disclosure on all facets of a new job can dramatically reduce candidate “fallouts.” When we took a sample of candidates who had left their jobs in less than 6 months, the number one reason they stated was the role was not what they expected. Laying out your shift patterns, and contracted hours is imperative. However, retailers with better retention are going one step further and giving a detailed breakdown of the role they are offering – including challenges that may arise for a new hire.
First impressions count
Even in instances where retailers have done a thorough job of explaining the role, company and responsibilities, still a cohort of new starters will leave before they have even completed their training. Candidates now expect an enjoyable induction, to feel valued from arrival, and to be made feel like they are part of a team. They also look for a robust training plan which ranges from 6 weeks to 6 months, covering not only their role but company highlights, organisations plan, and wider social and cultural inclusions. This may feel like a big ask for some retailers, but setting aside some time to welcome on board each employee pays dividends. Poor induction or training was the second highest ranked on our list of reasons a new-hire leaves.
Today’s recruitment market is still candidate-led – meaning that candidates have ample choice between employers. It is widely understood by today’s candidates, particularly at entry-level and slightly above, that they have the “upper hand.” It’s a phenomenon that arose from an overheated market, coupled with a mindset shift over the last 5 years. Any employer who is not aware of this new employee attitude is unlikely to have much success with their new team additions. When I asked several retailers how they are managing this shift, the most successful all seem to have one thing in common. They are investing more time and resources in their recruiting and onboarding practices.
Long gone are the days of training solely by “shadowing”. Today’s new starters tend to spend days clicking through online training and signing sheets of compliance documents. This is often followed by off-site training or training in a different store to get a more “well-rounded” experience. The problem here is that while “shadowing” is no longer seen as best practice in most incidents – what it did do well was appoint a mentor by default. Someone who could help you understand the culture of the store and guide you to find your fit within it. A lot of the candidates who left prematurely made statements like – “I was left,” “forgotten about” or “ignored.” Appointing a mentor or following the old routine of shadowing one team member during the first few critical weeks really limits this and is certainly food for thought!
My favourite one-size-fits-all solution. I believe open, honest, direct, and fair feedback can improve any professional relationship and it appears that it has an impact in these scenarios too. Another reason cited by these leavers was a lack of appreciation or feedback. Today’s candidates are unwilling to wait for the 6-month review to get a pat on the back – weekly and monthly check-ins are the way forward in order to hang on to those newbies!
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