Under no stretch of the imagination can anyone working in retail young or old say that the last 12 months have been nothing more than unparalleled and extraordinary.  Not only did we all have to learn to work and collaborate in new and different ways, but many retailers managed to do something remarkable, pivoting their businesses to being solely online and implementing new processes and systems that normally would have taken years, in a matter of months.

However, what we also saw, and this was certainly unexpected, was the large number of people in buying and planning choosing to change jobs during the pandemic.  This was particularly the case amongst Millennials and Gen Z and not just restricted to retailer.  According to a Ceridian survey, conducted in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Canada and the US, last year, by Nielsen, 76% of those aged under 30 were looking or open to new opportunities.  An article by CNBC goes on to quote Susan Tohyama, chief human resources officer for Ceridian.

“In order to be able to retain their employees during this time, employers need to make sure they’re allowing their employees to have a development program that ensures their skill sets are constantly being upgraded and developed.”

She also went on to say that more and more employees are “…looking for experience equity in their careers.”

So, what does this mean for Australian retailers who are reporting an ever-shrinking talent pool, especially as it will certainly be another year before companies can look at bringing people in from overseas to fulfil roles?  Well, the evidence seems very clear.  Younger Millennials and Gen Z want to feel that their employers are investing in them and developing their skills.  This has got to be good for the industry in the long-term.  A better trained, more capable Australian retail workforce will be better placed to compete with overseas retail behemoths.  Retailers who invest in their teams’ capabilities will have lower recruitment costs, higher retention rates, a more engaged and enthused team, and will ultimately be more successful than retailers who put little investment or effort in relying solely rely on “on-the-job” training.

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