If you’ve been in the grocery game for a while now, the hiring process probably doesn’t trip you up. You know exactly who you need to hire for specific positions, what traits and skills they should have, and generally how their personalities should align with the work at hand.
It’s all pretty standard at this point.
However, a seismic shift is on the horizon for the retail industry, particularly for grocers. Hiring for your stores will no longer be a one-size-fits-all process, and you’ll need to rethink the job descriptions that you’ve relied on for years, maybe even decades.
Consumers are starting to expect more from your store associates, cashiers, and managers. The way the world sees retail is different now – spurred on by incessant technological change and overwhelming choice in every market.
Your shoppers are going to rely on your employees heavily in the next decade. It’s your job to understand this trend and prepare your staff effectively.
The Current State of the Retail Workforce
The retail workforce is made up of a variety of professionals, but one demographic sticks out amongst the fray: young people.
⅓ of grocery store jobs are held by people between the ages of 16 and 24, perhaps because they don’t require a ton of experience, or perhaps because grocery stores have such a great reputation within the community that young adults flock to them for their first jobs.
Grocery stores in particular are filled with younger employees because the traditional positions hired by grocers are entry-level, including sales associates, cashiers, and stockers. These positions don’t require a lot of experience or an elevated skillset.
For that reason, grocers are used to hiring a large number of staff in order to keep their store running. Younger employees are often part-time, and take on less responsibility, so a staff roster at a grocery store can be extensive. Grocers need to make up for the lack of experience and a minimal skill set with more feet on the floor.
The pay level is another unique fact aspect of the retail and grocery industries. Outside of corporate offices, the pay is most suitable to a younger employee or a more mature team member who isn’t looking for a robust salary. Most in-store positions pay around minimum wage, which lines up with the responsibility and experience required for those traditional job descriptions.
That all makes sense to you right? You probably weren’t surprised by any of the information that I just shared with you. It’s expected in your industry.
And it’s about to change.
How Your Workforce Will Change Over the Next Decade
Relying on a formula for hiring usually results in a business that fails to innovate or adapt to changing times in their industry. That’s the case when it comes to the current ways that grocers are hiring their staff.
Customers are starting to expect an elevated retail experience across the board, with employees who have the answers to all of their questions, understand the finer points of each product within your store, and have demonstrated skills in sales and customer service.
It’s likely that, to achieve that feat, you’ll need to adjust your team.
Going forward, grocers need to be aware of the changing ways in which customers view retail, and how they will need to change their current staff makeup in order to satisfy their shoppers.
First and foremost, you’ll need to start hiring people who have a bit more experience than your average entry-level hire. Your customers want to interact with people who have been around the block, who understand how your store works and is merchandised, what products you’re carrying, and how to treat a shopper.
Look for applicants who have previous retail or customer service experience when hiring for your next store associate. Even a year or so of a developed skillset will translate into an employee that your customers will enjoy interacting with – and one that will generate more revenue for your business.
When you have employees who are more skilled, you can hire less of them. Employees who have already worked in a retail environment are not only better for your customer experience, but you also won’t have to spend as much time training them on basic retail practices and they’ll be able to take on more responsibility.
When more tasks can be added to an employees plate, you won’t need to keep as large of a staff roster. This will require employees to work more hours and cover more ground in your store, taking on everyday tasks while assisting your customers with any and all of their needs.
Higher-paid team members
Finally, if you expect to hire less employees with better experience, you can expect to pay them more than you’re paying your employees right now.
Granted, you have fewer staff salaries to cover, so it should only affect your bottom line in a small way. Consider paying at least 50% more than your state’s minimum wage in order to attract a more experienced, reliable applicant pool for your next position opening.
The retail workforce is shifting in favor of fewer higher-paid, experienced employees. Your customers no longer see your store associates as silent workers in your store, but as expert resources on your business. By adapting to this trend and adjusting your internal workforce accordingly, you’ll be able to provide your customers with an ideal experience and bolster your team with industry knowledge, work ethic, and long term growth opportunity.