The Role of HR in the Retail Industry in 2020
We have seen that many things have changed in the way businesses operate throughout the course of 2020. In many cases, the way that business is done looks different from what it looked like before the pandemic hit, and some changes will likely stick once the pandemic is gone. In the same way, the role of HR in the retail industry has also changed.
The brick-and-mortar retail industry has been one of the hardest hit in 2020, and because of this, businesses have had to alter their ideas of what things will look like moving forward. The role of HR in the retail industry has changed significantly and, in many ways, stayed the same. The focus of the present is on people. This was also the common theme in previous years. However, the dynamic of a global pandemic has changed the definition of HR’s key focal points.
The role of HR in the retail industry has always included training. An employee can’t be a great employee without it, and a business can’t run smoothly with improperly trained employees. Previously, training was largely done on-the-job and face to face, with detailed walkthroughs being given and new employees’ ability to demonstrate their knowledge easily just by performing a task. Now, training has shifted to more remote learning, forcing human resources departments to develop superior training that can be done in the digital world.
Many retail establishments are also coming up with new ways to drive sales as the foot traffic in their brick-and-mortar stores dwindles. HR may be looking at training programs that have never been done in their industry before.
While recruiting is nothing new anywhere in the HR world, when looking at the role of HR in the retail industry in 2020, recruiting has taken on a completely different scope. Candidate numbers have dwindled while open positions have gone up. No longer can face-to-face interviews and in-person demonstrations be used to find the best of the best in the talent pool; instead, everything must be done using video or phone calls. New skill subsets have to be present in most employees, as well. In many situations, employees will need to be able to hit the ground running in an active virtual world.
Employees will also be required to be much more flexible than they were in the past. With an unprecedented pandemic comes unprecedented job duties, and retail business owners may find that completely new practices may be necessary to encourage sales growth.
HR’s role in the retail industry moving forward will need to have a bigger focus on maintaining employees rather than searching for new ones. Complaints about the way that businesses have handled their employees during the pandemic have risen exponentially. If people don’t feel safe, they aren’t going to stick around. However, this logic isn’t only present during the pandemic. Many companies, especially retail companies, are learning just how important it is to keep their employees healthy and happy, especially during trying times. HR departments are focusing more on wellness programs and active employee involvement in the company. It’s no secret that maintaining an employee costs less than hiring one but with the country seemingly in a state of psychological crisis; retail employees are often the target of the unhappiness that comes with being forced to stay inside.
An HR department needs to develop a culture within the business, even if the employee base is largely online. When it comes to culture, the role of HR in the retail industry becomes essential for every other major part of HR, including recruiting, training, and retention. If a company doesn’t have a great picture to present for new employees, that company will have a more difficult time finding new employees that are interested enough to start employment. The onboarding process will look different and will need to maintain the interest of the new employee, giving them access to the tools they need while ensuring they are not overwhelmed at the same time. Diversity and inclusivity are also major keys to cementing employee happiness and receptivity.
The right people in the right places has never been as important as it is now, even from the top down. Great management is key to creating and retaining great employees. In these trying times, a good HR department should focus on leadership as it is on recruiting and new hires. A great employee can be easily driven away by a manager who won’t lead by example.