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How to recruit faster post-lockdown

Three strategies to recruiting faster in retail and hospitality post-lockdown.

Written by
Josh Vernon

At times it might feel difficult to imagine, but at some point (hopefully soon) the lockdowns across much of Australia will come to an end. Prior to the latest Covid-19 outbreaks, we’d seen numerous reports of labour shortages across the retail and hospitality industries. In May an article in SMH called it a critical shortage while another article in the ABC in July said things were on a knife’s edge. More recently, a host of CEOs told the AFR they’re hiring but growing increasingly frustrated. There are a number of factors causing this competition for talent, including a lack of international travel and also concerns about job security in retail and hospitality during the pandemic.

With the percentage of people in Australia that are vaccinated against Covid-19 growing every day, restaurants, cafes and retailers are thinking about what they can do to attract the best talent and how to do it quickly so they’re prepared for a festive season that’s fully open.

At Humanforce Thrive, we’ve seen a similar story play out with our customers in the UK. And while predicting anything at this point can feel like a fool’s errand, I can share three strategies that are making a difference when it comes to recruiting post-lockdown.

1. Offering flexibility 

So much of the working population has enjoyed the flexibility of working from home over the last 18 months. But for staff of shops, cafes and restaurants, working from home isn’t a benefit they’re able to enjoy (or endure, depending on your perspective). In the time of Covid-19, being unable to offer this flexibility not only means your people miss out on some of the positives of working from home, it also means they’re more at risk of being infected. 

Broadening our ideas of what flexibility means for retail and hospitality workers can make a great deal of difference to the working environment. A pre-pandemic study by PwC found that millennials and gen z are particularly drawn to flexible working environments. Given the median age of a retail assistant is 26 and the median age of a hospitality worker is 22, these workers are likely to value this flexibility more than other groups.

In these industries there are two potential ways to offer flexibility. The first is in rostering, providing teams with the ability to create their own schedules around their lives. The second is in pay, providing the ability to track earnings in real-time and instantly access a portion of what’s already been earned to cover emergencies - known as earned wage access.

2. Focusing on wellbeing

While everyone’s working life has been impacted by Covid-19, outside of the medical profession, retail and hospitality workers have perhaps been the most impacted. 

A recent study found that two in three workers across these industries reported a mental health condition in 2020. The leading cause of stress among these workers is financial stress, with one in four workers saying they’re moderately or severely financially stressed. If employers recognise the significant role they play in the financial lives of their employees, they can also see the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to statistics like this. 

And employees are looking for this support. Seven in 10 workers are comfortable receiving information and support from their employer about their finances, according to FutureFriendly. What’s more, one in two people say they would benefit from more employer support and would be interested in financial wellbeing programs, with nine in 10 people saying they want flexible access to their pay as part of a financial wellbeing program, according to 60 Decibels.

3. Be clear in the benefits provided

Potential candidates need to know what benefits are available to them so they can easily compare employers. Wellbeing and benefit programs have traditionally been viewed as something that employees are introduced to in onboarding, however highlighting these programs in job ads can help to differentiate employers.

Our analysis of over 900 job ads in retail and hospitality on Indeed found that companies promoting Humanforce Thrive as a financial wellbeing benefit filled roles within an average of 22 days. In comparison, jobs listed by similar companies that don’t provide a financial wellbeing benefit took an average of 30 days to fill.

This means that in retail and hospitality, job listings which feature a financial wellbeing program fill 27% faster than those that don’t.

What next?

Read our guide to recruiting faster, filling more shifts and keeping staff longer.

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