For the past year or so, most people have learned to live within the comfort of their home. Bedrooms became the new classrooms and the commute to the office was just a walk downstairs. However, for others, life and work went on as usual, just with extra safety precautions. For food service workers, their job became pertinent to consumers who remained quarantined for the time being.
But, as the world begins to open back up, the food retail industry has begun to suffer from being understaffed. Despite the reopening of many businesses and stores, many people are still wary about their health and safety regarding COVID. As the influx of workers coming into the food industry rapidly decreases, companies are scrambling to hire new employees to avoid any major financial and physical losses.
In this article, we break down how many corporations are experiencing this setback and steps to take to ultimately overcome this dilemma.
When attracting new faces into your business, it’s important to know which audience to target. The main pool of applicants is Gen Z. Going back to the root of the problem, many food retail establishments are experiencing understaffing due to workers quitting and decreasing interest from people who are looking for a job in the industry.
A major factor within the Gen Z group is that their career goals have shifted from earlier generations. Many of these young adults have specific goals they intend to achieve. With this factor along with food retailers’ messages that don’t adequately attract young talent into their business, hiring has become a struggle. Being able to bring in new employees of this age means catering to their desires, whether it’s the type of occupation or promoting something they believe in, such as sustainability.
Most Gen Z undergraduate students seek a job that has a purpose, according to researchers at FMI and Saint Joseph’s University. So what should grocers do to appeal to potential applicants? Well, it’s important for employers to convey to their Gen Z employees that their contributions matter to the overall organization, and emphasize how food retail jobs have a positive impact on the community.
Communicating to this generation is also important. Job listings in newspapers and flyers just aren’t cutting it anymore. In order to connect in a more modern way, try using social media to communicate with Gen Z. Focus on college careers’ centers for recruitment, either through physical fairs on campuses or online apps, like LinkedIn.
Another issue that has people hesitant to search for work in this industry is safety concerns regarding COVID-19. Though many stores and businesses are finally re-opening to full capacity after a year of the pandemic, there are still many health concerns and risks. Mask mandates for many states have been lifted, so it’s entirely up to the managers of the store to decide whether to enforce a mandate just for their business. For many people, this regulation could make or break their decision to apply or even accept a job. Aligning with the morals of a younger audience is difficult, but finding that happy medium could be the key to future success.
As an employer, there are many steps you can take to improve the hiring process that could be more appealing to potential employees.
So, where do we first look for new workers? Many businesses, like grocery stores, have found that sourcing local candidates has proven to be successful. For example, take different routes to reach out to locals, such as Facebook groups or local job boards. Utilize technology to make communication easier, such as having an Instagram page where people can ask questions in the comments section. Another tactic could be allowing candidates to apply to multiple store locations at once so this way they can have options, but also helps you determine which area needs more or less help.
Business should also prioritize creating a positive work environment. This will encourage a job that is enjoyable and not just something to dread. By offering add-ons like career development or furthering educational programs within your organizations is not only an added enticement for future hires but also differentiates your business from competitors.
Company culture is especially important, no matter the audience. Promoting a work environment that has continuous learning and professional development opportunities doesn’t only foster a healthy work setting but is also attractive to applicants. Improving internal processes such as quick promotions to higher salaries is also a smart incentive for both current and future employees. This can push current workers to put their best foot forward because they now have a goal to work towards that isn’t just financial gain. It’s also a good selling point to market to attract new applicants into your store. With transparency and technological innovation, your business is sure to grow towards a brighter future.
Another way to work from the inside out is to enhance your retail onboarding process. New employees will need proper training, so to create a more productive work space, implementing new tactics could boost your business. For example, having new hires shadow current employees and then follow up by working under their supervision would be a thorough process to ensure that they understand their job and work efficiently and accurately. Not only is it good for your business by reducing early turnover, but also it establishes comfort for the new employees within their responsibilities.
To attract new employees, a key point is to market more aggressively, such as publicizing the benefits of working in the food retail corporate sphere. Reach out earlier to college students, specifically undergraduates who may not be looking for a long-term job, and emphasize opportunities for innovation. Focus on making a positive social impact to appeal to new applicants.
When hiring new employees, it’s important to note that your business’s financial gain isn’t the only priority. Marketing what potential employees want out of a job is crucial in itself, but also following through on these promises is just as important. Empty promotions will only create an unhappy work environment that will only harm your business.
Though the industry is currently suffering under these uncontrollable challenges, this only means that putting in the work to improve operations and internal processes will pave the way for a more successful future.