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Retailers Must Embrace Social Media Recruiting or Face the Wrath of the Consumer

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Greg Belkin
on August 29, 2012

It’s tough to be a retailer. For these organizations, hourly and part-time employees often make up the largest portion of the workforce, meaning that retail recruiters must always be on their game to ensure critical positions within the organization are filled. Compounding this problem is the advent of social media-based job boards, which has made it easier for potential candidates to scrutinize every detail of a job opportunity before an initial interview can be scheduled. And, the stakes could not be higher: according to Aberdeen Group, 65% of retailers identify pressure from consumers for a highly knowledgeable sales associate as a key recruitment driver.

With this challenge in mind, Sahir Anand, VP & Group Director, Retail Research, and Madeline Laurano, Senior Analyst of the Aberdeen Group, joined Peoplefluent for a webcast titled “Next Generation Talent Acquisition for Retailers: Finding Retail Talent in the Social Era.”

Sahir and Madeline discussed the industry-related pressures, business-related actions and capabilities, and technology-related enablers associated with retail recruiting. According to these analysts, the top two pressures on the minds of retailers are customer expectations of a highly knowledgeable sales associate (65%), and lack of key skills in the marketplace (30%). Sahir and Madeline commented that retailers have a double-edged challenge: they have less access to qualified talent in the marketplace, and customers almost immediately know (and react unfavorably) when talent gaps show up in the marketplace.

From an actions standpoint, the top two priorities for retailers are to 1) identify gaps between current workforce skills and anticipated future business requirements, and 2) ensure that talent strategy is continually adapted to align with changing business strategies (both at 53%). Sahir commented that social media is a great example of changing business strategy, and recruiters must leverage social media recruiting to remain competitive in a tough market.

Four key process capabilities were reported within Aberdeen’s research:

  1. Line of business functions given accountability for recruiting, development, talent management etc. (53%)
  2. Process to identify job roles that are critical to organizational success (47%)
  3. Defined process is in place to identify high potential talent (47%)
  4. Defined processes are in place to identify gaps between current workforce skills and demand (35%)

Finally, employee performance management systems were the enabling tools of choice by 65% of retailers. This was followed by talent acquisition tools (59%), learning tools (53%), and workforce management (scheduling and time and attendance – 29%). Given the frequency of retail hiring, it makes sense that retailers are attempting to address all ends of the HR spectrum, from recruitment to learning and performance management.

There is no doubt that retailing is a tough proposition in a dynamic economy. From an HR standpoint, the challenge is clearly defined by an empowered, flexible candidate who has social media on their side to closely scrutinize the job market. To find the best employees retailers must embrace social recruiting tools, or risk the wrath of a consumer who expects top-notch service at the store front.

Note: to access the Aberdeen Group’s research report on Retail Workforce Management, click here.

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