Do today’s candidates have less “staying power” than those in years gone by?

Do today’s candidates have less “staying power” than those in years gone by?

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?

Manage expectations

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.

Market demands

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.

Mentors

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!

Feedback

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!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

Benefits when attracting and retaining staff

Benefits when attracting and retaining staff

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.

Travel

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.

Discounts

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

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.

Statutory

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.

Employee wellness

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.

Training

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!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

 

impact of national minimum wage increases

Examining the impacts of National Minimum Wage increases

A lot of questions have been coming our way about the knock-on impact of the upcoming National Minimum Wage increase, in particular, how stores will be responding across the various levels of the business in order to remain competitive.

This impending increase of €1.40 reflects a 12.4% increase in just 12 months. The NMW increased, in total, €1.85 across 8 years from 2014 to 2022, with yearly manageable increases. However, we are seeing an increase of €2.20 per hour, equating to 21%, in just the two most recent increases. This increase is more than double the rate of wage increases across the state and understandably is having a significant impact on retailers across the country.

The most common question we are being asked is how retailers are responding across the rest of their store’s teams.

Entry Level Management Roles

Trainee Managers, Duty Managers, Team Leaders, and Store Supervisors were typically earning €26,000 to €28,000 a couple of years ago. This was an entry-level role where they gained experience and was a first step on the retail career ladder. The medium here now equates to the 2023 NMW for a 45 hour week.

There are many instances where the rates of minimum wage store staff have increased but this junior level Manager has not moved and so this level are being paid only slightly more than the teams they are managing. So, the issue here is one that impacts the entire store team. And this is what is causing concern for retailers across the country.

In an effort at fairness, many stores are increasing these junior managers’ salaries by the same percentage as the minimum wage increase. This means by the end of 2022 many, if not most of these junior managers were starting at €28,000 – €30,000 PA. However, a 21% increase from 2022 to 2024 would now bring an entry-level, junior management candidate to €36,000! A salary many experienced managers are on. This in turn causes an increase across the next level of managers – from assistant managers to fresh food and store managers. The question is, where does this become too crippling a cost for store owners to bear?

Natural Market Increase 

That’s not to say that the minimum wage is a bad thing – indeed – it’s important that all are paid fairly, however, it’s this knock-on effect which needs to be taken into account, to ensure stores stay profitable and all those working are being paid fairly. The low unemployment rate has already caused a natural increase in the minimum wage for good staff over the last couple of years. Meaning that any retailers who worked hard could expect an increase from their employer in order to retain them. This market balance means stores are paying those who work hardest more and have the budget to reward those who deserve it.

Retailer’s Response 

Many of the retailers I spoke to are already paying their staff above minimum wage. However, 2024 will force an increase that brings all staff to the same level regardless of their performance.

Other retailers will offset this cost by trimming hours in their stores where possible.

More still will look at their ratio of under 18 staff and seek to balance their wage bill by ensuring they have a mix of under 18 staff and more experienced staff. However, with the current legislation around under 18s selling alcohol and tobacco, this is often not an option!

Wage Wars

This 2024 increase will see the “levelling out” of salaries. This means many competing employers will start increasing again in order to attract top talent in a still overheated employment market.

Some retailers suggested that rather than compete with more “wage wars” against other employers they will look at their contracted hours, shift patterns, benefit packages, and reward schemes. This seems to be the most palatable solution going forward as any additional increases past Januarys increase seem most unpalatable.

What’s next

Considering the substantial increase of 2024, the projected NMW increase of 2025, the additional February Bank Holiday,  the additional sick pay, and the auto enrolment for pensions, many retailers will be looking long and hard at their P&L sheets this year end.

2024 will likely see retailers making sure they get the most value for money in terms of new hires, paying a little more for a lot more talent by moving up the ladder to more experienced hires and adjusting their overall packages to remain an employer of choice and attracting the best talent available to drive their stores forward.

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

Mastering retail golden quarter

Mastering the Golden Quarter

Our Director of Fashion & Non-Food Retail, Aislinn Lea, featured in the Q3 edition of Retail Excellence Ireland‘s Retail Times. Discussing how retailers can stay one step ahead and master this Golden Quarter, the most crucial period of the year for retailers. Aislinn provides insight on where retailers can best attract their seasonal staff, what to advertise and how to successfully execute and plan ahead.

As the Christmas bells begin to chime, retailers are not just thinking about decorations; they are meticulously planning their financial, operational, and strategic endeavours to make the most of Black Friday and the entire holiday season. One of the cornerstones of this preparation is assembling a dedicated and capable seasonal team who can ensure customer experiences are nothing short of exceptional, irrespective of how they choose to shop – be it through click and collect, online deliveries, or the brick-and-mortar in-store experience.

Attracting your seasonal team:

The Golden quarter is the most lucrative and challenging period for retailers. Attracting the right seasonal team is pivotal in achieving financial expectations and delivering outstanding shopping experiences to customers. Nevertheless, the challenges surrounding recruitment persist, whether it’s for in-store sales, warehousing, or visual merchandising and having the right recruitment partner can help you achieve your financial expectations.

Word of Mouth – Encourage current employees to refer friends and family for seasonal positions. Their first-hand experience working at your store can be a powerful endorsement.

Open Days – Hosting recruitment events or open days is a fantastic way to give potential candidates an insight into the job and your company culture. These events can help individuals get a feel for the work environment and understand what makes your brand unique.

Utilise in-store and window signage to promote job openings – these signs should be sharp, eye-catching and should reflect your company’s image and values.

Referral Schemes – Implementing a referral program can be a win-win situation. Offer vouchers or incentives to your existing employees for successfully referring new hires to your team.

Social Media is an indispensable tool for attracting potential employees – Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook can help you reach a wider audience.

 

What to advertise? It’s vital to provide comprehensive information to potential candidates

Package: Clearly state the hourly rate and any additional benefits, such as lunch allowances, staff discounts, bonuses, or sales incentives. This can be a significant motivator for potential candidates.

Job Specification: Craft a concise yet compelling job specification that sets your opportunity apart from the competition. Highlight what makes your company unique.

When/Where: State the exact dates of the seasonal employment, as well as the location and contract hours. This ensures that candidates know exactly what they are signing up for.

 

Execution/Planning: To make your seasonal recruitment strategy work seamlessly, here are a few key considerations

Plan Ahead: Start your recruitment process well in advance of the Golden Quarter. Ensure that your team is in place before the rush begins to avoid last-minute staffing shortages.

Training: Develop a comprehensive training program to equip your seasonal staff with the skills and knowledge necessary to deliver exceptional customer service.

 

If you need assistance with permanent recruitment solutions, please contact Aislinn Lea at aislinn@excelrecruitment.com & for our temporary staffing solutions, contact Ciara Connolly at ciara@excelrecruitment.com.

Careers in Retail

The advantages of making a career in retail

Our Director of Grocery Retail Recruitment, Nikki Murran, featured in the latest edition of ShelfLife Magazine to discuss the numerous advantages of making a career in retail. Highlighting that with limitless opportunities for progression, and countless new things to learn, a career in retail is much more than just ‘a job in a shop’. 

Retail jobs can get bad press and often do. It is an industry filled with hard-working employees, some on minimum wage, dealing in overwhelmingly busy stores and with an unpredictable public. However, this past month I have been asking retailers, and past retailers who now work on my team – what do you love about the industry? It’s been inspiring hearing about their stories and their passion for the industry. So it prompted me to compile this list for anyone thinking of turning their part-time retail job into a full-scale career. Or indeed any store owners looking to convince their staff to take that leap with them.

Career kickstart

There are few other industries that will allow you to join with no experience, no further education and measure you solely on your ability and work ethic. Nearly every retailer, at every level I speak to, started their retail career during school, they enjoyed it, did well, and progressed. Not through their exam results or who they knew. Rather, based on how well they worked. Just because you are not a straight-A student does not mean you won’t be a straight-A retailer!

Learning life-long skills

Dealing with customer complaints, handling money, learning about food safety or manual handling skills – regardless of your role in retail you will learn so many skills which will stand to you in every aspect of your life!

Teammates

Nothing brings people together more than working alongside each other toward a common goal. In every store in the country, you will find passionate, hard-working, dedicated teams of people. Usually, people who are warm, caring and outgoing, as this goes hand in hand with dealing with customers successfully, day after day and indeed year after year. In every store I have ever worked in, I have been overwhelmed by the talent and dedication of the teams I have worked alongside. I met so many people from outside my usual social circle, people from all walks of life, all nationalities, and all age ranges. It was always one of the best parts about working in retail as I got to understand so many different cultures and meet and build friendships with such a diverse group of fabulous people.

The customers

To be fair, this can sometimes be the biggest challenge, but often, it is one of the biggest rewards. I started my retail career in a local convenience store, in a quiet area, with an aging population. The boss said to me on my first day – “remember, for some of these customers you may be the only person they speak with today.” That stuck with me for the next decade while I worked in retail and I gained so much from spending an extra moment or two with each customer who was looking for a connection. Not only did it help me to develop empathy but It brought me so much joy, laughter, and genuine pleasure.

Building confidence

Retail is the ultimate confidence builder. Working in retail gives you so many opportunities to excel in various tasks. From merchandising a section in the store, to helping a customer, achieving a sales target or just knowing you have done a solid day’s work. People who have spent time in retail build a level of confidence that is difficult to replicate!

Something for everyone

The retail industry really does have something for everyone! Do you like physical work? Why not try out a Pack Out Manager job? Great with numbers? Stock control manager! Do you love people? In store HR Manager might be for you. A true Foodie? Fresh food manager it is! Do you love chatting with new people? Checkout supervisor may be your calling! Or perhaps you love doing a little of everything? Convenience management is for you so! There are endless possibilities, and most retailers will support their staff to find the right fit for them. Most managers work their way through many departments before they progress to store manager. If you are not sure what’s right for you, find a good recruitment agency who will help you pinpoint your retail talents! (ahem)

Community

Many of the stores throughout Ireland are deeply embedded in their community. They often support local charities, sponsor the local GAA team, and provide spot prizes for the local school’s annual raffle. It’s a wonderful feeling being involved in your community and being part of your local retail team is a sure-fire way to make that happen!

Work-Life Balance

Retail employment can get a bad name when it comes to work life balance. But, in the past number of years, most retailers have reduced their contracted hours and many others offer much more flexibility. Because stores open longer than the usual 9-5 most retailers are finding that they can navigate their personal life, be it childcare or sports, with just a little flexibility from their employer. Many retailers work morning shifts and are home in time for training, whilst others drop the kids to school in plenty of time to make the start of their shift. Retail can be whatever you make it and with so many retail employers open to flexibility it really is a great fit for many!

Ownership

Regardless of how long you have worked in retail, for those who ask they will nearly always be given the opportunity for growth and ownership. Grocery stores work best when the teams running them each take responsibility for their own section, area, department or just the flower stand! You don’t need to wait – as soon as you feel ready you can be sure any request for more will be met with enthusiasm and support from your manager!

Fabulous Irish product

You only have to look around any of the grocery stores here to see how most embrace beautiful local Irish products and help small businesses bring them to wider markets. For those with a passion for food, working in this space gives a lovely opportunity to work with some amazing brands and fabulous products.

Limitless progression

You can start your retail career as a sales assistant or trainee and steadily climb the ranks to Store Manager, Regional Manager, or Fresh Food Area Manager to name but a few. In fact, most of the senior retailers in the country started as Sales Assistants. Many retailers will help you through college, others offer outstanding training programs, in everything from HR to Food safety, while others still will offer apprenticeships in Butchery and Baking. The sky really is the limit and for those willing to work hard and learn your career path, really is in your hands!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

Why use a recruitment agency

Why use a recruitment agency?

Having grown up in the world of independent retail, our Director of Grocery Retail, Nikki Murran, has first-hand knowledge of the difference employing a recruitment agency can make in the quest for good staff. Highlighting the advantages in the article below.

With many retailers still reeling from the cost increases they have shouldered in the last couple of years it’s understandable that they may take pause before committing to paying a recruitment fee for a new hire. Now, I may be biased, (actually I am definitely biased) but, from over a decade of experience and client feedback I absolutely see it as money well spent. Here are the reasons why:

Industry experts and market insights

When you partner with an agency, you should choose one who are specialists in their field. Or, have a specialist department that recruit for your field. My team all come from grocery retail. We all know a good store manager when we see one, we all know the difference between a deli manager and a deli supervisor, a scratch baker, and a confectioner. In the same way that my colleague who runs the fashion department can recognise the difference between a high street retailer and a luxury one! It’s what we do!

Having an industry expert recruiter on your side means they always have a read of the current market. They should keep you updated on salary trends in the market or what candidates are looking for to make a move. They should give you direction, guidance, or feedback when you register a job, making sure you are putting your store in the best position to attract the best candidates. This is surprisingly rarely about money – often it’s some flexibility around shift patterns, contracted hours, job titles, or review periods. But the point is, a good recruitment partner will help you frame your job to make it as attractive as possible, without forcing you outside of your budget!

A good rule of thumb here is if a recruitment agency hasn’t compiled a salary survey specific to your industry each year for the past couple of years, they are unlikely to be a real expert in that field.

Employer branding

With the Irish market hovering around the perfect unemployment mark the last couple of months – now is more important than ever to make sure your brand as an employer is landing well. A good agency will likely have a read of the market perceptions about your brand and will give you some honest feedback when asked. A great agency will help shape your employer brand message and project it out into the market.

We make it a point to find out all the great things about your store and role and use these to help attract the best candidates for you.

Talent pool

If you are advertising for your current open role, chances are you are confined to candidates who are job-seeking this week, candidates who are applying for roles that match their experience, candidates who are applying to the salary range you have on offer, and candidates who managed to find your job ad amongst 100’s of others. It’s a pretty narrow field when you think of it like that.

Excel Recruitment has over 90,000 candidates on our database. The vast majority of placements we make, come, not from candidates who apply at the right time, for the right role. Rather, they are from candidates who applied over the last year or so and spoke at length to a recruiter about their experience and skill set and what they are looking for in their next move. When we get the right role in – we then reach out to the right candidate – it’s like a jigsaw! So, we deal with a much larger pool of candidates for your job than you could likely hope to.

We also love the saying “Great people know great people.” Most of my own placements come through recommendations, clients recommend me to each other, and candidates do the same. In fact, most of my conversations seem to start with “such and such” passed me on your number!

Bang for your buck!

I grew up in the world of independent retail. When our family store was looking to recruit a new store manager, maybe 15 years ago now, I knew the money to cover that was coming, not from some head office fund, but out of the store’s bottom line. With this in mind, I was sure that we should try to find the right candidate ourselves before trying an agency.

We spent a considerable amount of money on advertising; in a newspaper, two online job boards and on a radio station. We spent hours sifting through applications and met every applicant who had ever worked in retail management. It was all a waste of money and time. When we reached out to Excel Recruitment (plug, sorry – but we did!) they had candidates for us within a week. The guy we hired increased the margin within 6 months, and more than covered the fee we had paid.

Really, in a management or specialist role, when you compare the cost of the placement to the value that candidate will bring to your bottom line it’s a no-brainer! Especially considering if you don’t hire someone you don’t pay anything!

Hassle-free

Time is the one thing every retailer I know is short on. Using an agency means that after one detailed phone call, you have a team of recruiters working on your role. They will advertise your job, source candidates, sell them the benefits of your business, set up interviews, follow up on feedback, offer the job at your direction, deal with messy counter offers, and complete verified reference checks. They basically take most of the pain out of the recruitment process for you!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

childcare in retail

The realities of juggling childcare while working in retail

With the summer holidays upon us, our Director of Grocery Retail, Nikki Murran, reflects on the realities of juggling childcare while working in retail and looks at what the government could do to help parents and carers in this situation

This summer we planned out our childcare for my 8-year-old – it was like a military operation; involving spreadsheets, booking summer camps (these can be harder to secure than Taylor Swift tickets!), carpool agreements with neighbours, and roping in of grandparents to make up the difference. It was going to be a balancing act, but we were confident we had it covered and my kiddo would likely be a football star by the end of it. (Based on the number of hours he would be playing and the amount of money we were spending anyway!)

The first day of the first camp started with thunderstorms and a cancelled camp. Thankfully Nana was happy to help, and we figured it was a once-off. Day 2 he fractured his wrist. After the doctor explained it was 4-6 weeks of downtime my devastated son asked in the car – what about football camp? GAA camp? Golf camp? Hurling Camp? Athletics Camp?  “What indeed!” I thought!

We went back to the spreadsheets, back to the grandparents, and back to our bosses. We both shifted our summer to add a little working from home and within a few hours – problem solved.

It made me think, though – what if I was still working in retail? Working from home would not have been an option. What if we both were? What about the 300,000 people working in retail in Ireland this summer? How many of them have kids? What do they do on thundery days or when an arm gets fractured, or a chickenpox appears?

In a recent survey conducted by Excel Recruitment, it was found that 6 in 10 workers feel the cost of childcare is unaffordable. The survey also found that 58% of couples with children said their partner had to give up work due to the cost of childcare – and in 62% of these cases, the person that left the workforce was female.

My 3-year-old daughter is in a wonderful creche – they love her, she loves them, they paint, dance, go to the beach, the park, and plenty more. It’s expensive, like a second mortgage expensive, but they have early drop-off and late collection. However, it still means that one of us does a later shift so we can drop – and the other does an earlier shift to be back in time for collection. If one of us worked in retail, I can’t help but wonder how we would manage.

How do single parents, working in retail or hospitality juggle it all? How do they find childcare at the weekend? In evenings? On Christmas Eve? New Years Eve? All these peak trading days?

With a continued staffing crisis, and Ireland reaching its lowest level of unemployment in 20 years it’s imperative that all is done to ensure those willing to work are given the opportunities to. But with the current cost of childcare and the lack of childcare outside office hours, we are blocking a large cohort of available talent from the retail sector.

The government should do more, it should fall to them to make childcare more affordable, give better support to childcare providers, incentivize more flexibility from employers, and look for more novel approaches to combat this issue.

However, the government moves slowly, and the staffing crisis is upon us now, so it falls to retailers to look for workarounds. In recent months, more and more of my clients are adjusting their hiring practice to welcome part-time staff for full-time roles. I have placed a handful of Deli Managers working 4 days, an Assistant Manager who needs Wednesday nights and Thursday mornings off while his partner (a Nurse) does her long shift, and a Store Manager who needs most Saturdays off as he coaches his daughter’s GAA team. These candidates would have been unplaceable a couple of years ago, during a time when retailers were demanding full flexibility from employees. But the time has arrived where it is now employees demanding this flexibility from employers!

The main tool retailers have in their arsenal to tackle this issue is their store rota. What is working for many retailers is doing the rota weeks in advance, rather than just for the following week – often this extra notice is enough for parents to adjust childcare needs. I’ve also heard of successes with partnering, particularly in local stores – where a role is divided between two staff members – both with kids in the same school – here, they split their job, and both worked a 3-day week – covering the store for 6 days rather than 5 and they minded each other’s kids on the respective days off – it was a win-win for all.

From the feedback we have gotten from retailers making these adjustments – the best advice on offer seems to be open-mindedness – ruling nothing out and spending just a little longer on the scheduling and giving staff more input into the rota from the outset. These tweaks may cost a little time each week, but ultimately may result in a more dedicated, loyal workforce – seems a worthwhile trade to me!

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of ShelfLife Magazine here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

 

Hybrid shopping

The importance of moving to a hybrid shopping experience in the retail industry

Our Director of Fashion & Non-Food Retail, Aislinn Lea, featured in the Retail Excellence Ireland, Retail Times, to discuss the importance of moving to a hybrid shopping experience in the retail industry. Aislinn highlights why having a bricks-and-mortar business with an online aspect, along with a mix of retail and digital talent, is crucial for retail success.

It’s a different world in retail, post-pandemic, Aislinn Lea agrees. “Retail employee retention has always been challenging, but it has reached new heights since the pandemic. Retail workers are now seeking roles that offer greater work-life balance and more flexibility as well as the company being the right culture fit,” she says. Sourcing, training and onboarding new team members can be expensive, so it is worth investing in retention strategies to prevent high employee turnover. With this in mind, Aislinn says there are a number of key reasons good retail staff will start to think about leaving to be mindful of. And luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent this, as she explains below.

Aislinn believes a hybrid shopping model is essential in today’s retail landscape, but equally important is having the right digital and retail team. “In physical retail stores, employees assist customers, answer their queries, and guide them through the purchasing process. Similarly, in the digital realm, staff interact with customers through various channels like live chat, email, or social media, addressing their concerns and providing support. Exceptional customer service builds customer loyalty and increases sales so selecting the right candidate is essential for business growth,” she says.

Meeting customer preferences:

Customers have varying preferences when it comes to shopping. Some prefer the convenience and accessibility of online shopping; others prefer the tactile experience and personal interaction of physical stores. Having both options allow you to cater to a wider range of customers, whilst enhancing their shopping experiences.

Digital talent for online success:

To succeed in the digital realm, having a team of digital talent is essential. These professionals can handle e-commerce operations, digital marketing, website design and optimisation, social media engagement, and customer relationship management. Their expertise will ensure that your online presence is effective, engaging, and capable of driving traffic and conversions.

Building brand awareness and sales:

Physical stores offer a tangible presence that can help build brand awareness. Customers can interact with products, seek assistance from knowledgeable staff, and establish a personal connection with the brand. By complementing this with an online presence, you can expand your reach, engage with a broader audience, and reinforce your brand identity. Online sales can supplement your in-store revenue and provide opportunities for growth.

Retail talent for personalised experiences:

In-house retail talent is crucial for providing exceptional customer service, creating personalised experiences, and driving sales in physical stores. Retail employees with product knowledge, excellent interpersonal skills, and a passion for customer satisfaction can enhance the overall shopping experience and build lasting customer relationships.

Blending physical and digital strategies:

The key to a successful hybrid shopping model is integrating your physical and digital strategies. Your retail and digital talent need to collaborate closely to align marketing efforts, optimise inventory management, deliver consistent brand messaging, and leverage customer data to provide personalised experiences. This will help make the most of your hybrid approach. Retail teams could also enhance collaboration with the digital team by providing services such as in-store collections and returns.

You can check out this feature in the most recent edition of the Retail Times here. For more information call us on 01 814 8747 or email aislinn@excelrecruitment.com

You can view all of our live jobs here

Shane McLave Paul Wallace Pura

Excel’s Managing Director, Shane McLave, met with Paul Wallace to discuss his new venture Pura

Although Paul Wallace retired from professional rugby twenty years ago, we still see him on TV regularly on Sky Sports or hear him on the radio talking with vast knowledge and passion about the sport that he excelled in during his career, from playing with UCC, Munster, Leinster, Saracens, Ireland, and the British and Irish Lions. Paul started out during the period before professional rugby was even a thing, and talking to him last week after Munster won the URC, you can tell that his enthusiasm for Rugby is equally matched by his enthusiasm for his new venture “Pura”.

Pura, distributed by Natio, has a range of 100% natural ingredient-based canned sodas and infused fruit drinks in cartons aimed at kids, with no colourants or preservatives and low in sugar. I met with Paul recently to taste some of the products and chat to him about how he ended up involved in the drinks industry.

How did you end up in the drinks industry?

I was lucky in my rugby career that I got to travel a lot for games, and while we were on the pitch, even though we were adversaries, I made some lifelong and lasting friendships. It was through my time playing in South Africa that a friend I made there contacted me to see if I would be interested in coming on board with Pura. I studied Business at UCC and have worked in the international commercial property sector since I stopped playing professional rugby.

There are plenty of drinks on the market with zero calories. What makes Pura different or healthier than them?

Pura are a low-calorie drink, not a no-calorie one, and offer a fantastic range of mixers that we would see replacing many of the current favourites, shaking up the traditional mixer market. Our products are made from 100% natural ingredients. We do have a small amount of sugar in our products, but they are natural, and as sugar has been around for a very long time, we know what the pros and cons are. Whereas, with the many zero-calorie products that are available, the only way this can be done is with artificial additives, like aspartame, that we know for a fact is a carcinogen, and as with many other sweeteners, we don’t even know what some of the other long-term effects could be. People look at zero-calorie beverages and think that it must be ok to drink them in high quantities daily, but this is sadly not the case. As a father of two 5-year-olds, I know extremely well how many products out there aimed at kids are full of nasty stuff, and I personally believe there should be a tax on artificial sweeteners and not just on sugar. I think any kind of soda, whether it is aimed at kids or adults, needs to be a special treat that you can have once or twice a week.

As somebody who sells beverages with a healthier natural USP, what is your opinion on alcohol when it comes to the sponsorship of sports?

I think that when it comes to sporting organisations, many of them rely heavily on the sponsorship that they receive and would struggle to continue if this funding was banned altogether, but at the same time, the approach to this needs to be based on common sense. I think the zero-alcohol movement has been a good compromise, as sports and alcohol don’t mix in many ways. I have always been big on fitness, and I think that with the level that many sports are played at now, across many different disciplines, if you want to be at the top of your game, you would be advised to steer clear as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go for a few pints of Guinness in Franks of Monkstown or Donny and Nesbitt, and I love the atmosphere that you can find when you go into many of the fantastic pubs we are blessed with in Ireland, so I am not anti-alcohol, but just like sugar, you have to think of it as a treat and drink responsibly.

Check out Pura at www.livealittlepura.com for more information.

Grocery Retail Recruitment Q&A

Grocery Retail Recruitment Q&A

Our Director of Grocery Retail, Nikki Murran, featured in a recent edition of ShelfLife magazine’s Recruitment Q&A to answer some of the most prevalent questions within the grocery retail sector.

Q: In today’s competitive marketplace, retailers are finding it difficult to secure experienced staff. What would you say are the main factors behind this and how significant is this issue currently within Ireland’s grocery industry?

A: There is any number of factors contributing to the staffing crisis, but I feel the most obvious issues are as follows:

Supply has decreased: We started the pandemic from a place of near perfect unemployment but the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) allowed candidates to opt out of the workforce for an extended period of time. This caused a proportion of the retail sector to return home to other European countries during the pandemic and the last two years has seen a number of candidates leave the retail industry to pursue roles in other sectors.
Demand has increased: 2020 saw an additional €2 billion in grocery sales and still, to date, we are seeing an additional €200 per household per quarter being spent in the grocery sector. The DIY retail trade has also seen a substantial increase in many stores with no slowdown in sight and reports of pent-up demand still in play from 2020/21.

Q: How can your knowledge and experience within the FMCG industry help retailers to circumvent the current recruitment challenges?

A: Excel Recruitment has been recruiting for and supporting the Irish retail sector for the past 20 years. When it comes to retail recruitment, no other company has more experience in the Irish market. We are a team of retailers, recruiting for retailers. With over 85% of our business coming from repeat customers, we know we’re providing an excellent service. We take the time to understand the needs of each store by thoroughly screening the candidates from our extensive database and our team also provides honest feedback to clients and candidates throughout the recruiting process to ensure the perfect match for the role.

Q: What advice would you give retailers to ensure their employment packages stand out from competitors and can attract the best talent available?

A: Some of the key factors to take into account are as follows:
Tailor each package depending on the role / candidate
This is where we’ve seen the best successes in the market. It’s important to understand what each potential candidate is looking for in their next career move. Time and again, clients are tempted to offer more money to candidates. However, by understanding a candidate’s motivations – you may find that additional annual leave, healthcare discounts or reduced hours are more likely to secure your preferred hire.

Think outside the box
Small benefits like discounts on local gyms, canteen discounts, extra days of annual leave for birthdays, free tea, coffee and newspapers go a lot further than you may think! These small inexpensive perks are a great way to attract candidates. Be sure to list all your perks – no matter how small and include them with every job that you are looking to hire for.

Profit share
With basic salaries going up, this can be an ideal option by putting in place bonuses linked to a store’s profitability. You can offer outstanding on-target earnings without impacting your store’s wage budget.

Q: From the job candidate’s perspective, how will you help them to prepare for their best interview performance?

A: We tailor our candidate preparation depending on each individual, and the role that they are going for. By getting to know each candidate and by understanding their past experience/future ambitions, we’re positioning ourselves to support the candidate through each step of the hiring process. This can be anything from helping them to phrase answers, giving them the company background, suggesting the best stores for them to visit beforehand or teaching them how to conduct a virtual interview. And sometimes, we’re just simply a sounding board for a candidate to voice their concerns.

Q: It has become increasingly common for employers to hold multiple interviews. What specific advice would you give candidates when embarking on the second or third round of interviews?

A: I would recommend to clients to get all decision makers to sit in on the first interview so that you can conduct a thorough first round. This allows us to move at a faster pace in this overheated market and leaves no need for subsequent rounds. However, if you are a candidate who is called back for additional rounds:

  • Treat it like the first round! You may be meeting a new interviewer – and it is imperative you come across as well prepared, professional, interested and engaged as you did in the first round.
  • Don’t worry about repeating information from the first round – often the previous interviewer is anxious for the new interviewer to hear what you had to say.
  • Prepare and recap on your preparation for round one. Think about any questions you would like to have asked and prepare answers for any questions you felt you underperformed on during the previous rounds.
  • They liked you in round one, so relax, be yourself and enjoy!

Q: As we tentatively emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, do you believe that staff shortages will significantly lessen in the next 12 months?

A: No, looking forward, I can’t see any factors in play that will dramatically increase supply or decrease demand so it’s hard to see how these shortages will cease in the near future. Having said that, I do believe there are still great people available in the retail industry, if you know where to look. It’s essential to have a strong recruitment partner now more than ever to recruit talent for your business, and we will continue to help our clients and candidates in whatever way we can.

You can check out all our live retail jobs here. For more information you can contact Nikki on 01 814 8747 or email nikki@excelrecruitment.com.