With millions of Americans still out of work and job openings at a record high, retailers need solutions for what could be a long-term problem. To deal with the crippling labor crunch, business owners have to examine and embrace new strategies and new technologies that position them as an employer of choice and reduce their dependence on workers.
“The staffing shortage for retail is very serious,” Scott Kenyon, CEO of Wurk, said. “According to the Department of Labor, there are 70 percent more job vacancies since before the pandemic, with 10 percent less Americans looking for work. Retail chains across the nation, including large stores like Harris Teeter, have cut store hours as they struggle to fill open positions. National retail giants like Walmart and Target are increasing base pay, incentivizing new hires with sign-on bonuses, and offering to pay for college tuition, which unfortunately, mom-and-pop shops cannot compete with.”
Keep Business Running with Technology
Until more Americans start looking for work, one way indie retailers can combat the labor shortage is with technology. According to Kenyon, smaller and larger stores can benefit from technology that automates tedious and time-consuming processes like human capital management (HCM) software. From recruiting and onboarding to scheduling and payroll, HCM software can help minimize manual paperwork and automate processes to enable retail employees to focus their efforts on improving the customer experience.
“Offloading certain tasks like payroll to companies that provide payroll and HR services can also save companies time and headcount. Implementing multi-employer 401(k) plans can cut costs for employers while also eliminating the administrative paperwork and audits that come with managing their own plan,” Kenyon said.
Utilizing Retail Technology Platforms
Retail technology platforms that may have been overlooked before the pandemic are now coming into focus as businesses begin to understand their true value. According to Street Fight, using a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, and big data, a number of startups have started positioning their platforms as possible solutions to the labor shortages that retailers and restaurants are facing in 2021. Mobile ordering kiosks, autonomous checkout systems, and even machine vision algorithms are all being used to help businesses greet customers, restock shelves, and even clean messy areas with more efficiency.
Manage Workflow with Technology
Checkhub states that a software tool can help automate workflow in a business. A clear, standardized, and efficient process for work tasks is essential for ensuring consistency, quality, and efficiency of employee work, but staff members can often waste time trying to figure out what to do next, especially if management is busy. With labor shortages, there may be less workers around to tell the new hires what to do. A software tool can help automate the process, providing a searchable database of current and archived prospects and a record of which processes have been completed by which employees.
Technology Can Help Well Into the Future
“HCM technology is essential to help businesses run smoothly now and into the future,” Kenyon said. “Human employees are irreplaceable at certain functions like face-to-face interactions with customers, stocking shelves, and solving customer issues, and this software only enables employees to have more time to do what they do best. The goal should be to replace repetitive and/or tedious administrative tasks with software, which will ultimately save retailers time and money while curbing employee burnout.”