How to attract and retain team members in a challenging labour market

Tyson Dujela
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The latest economic figures show there will be a challenging period ahead for the Australian economy and at Grant Thornton, we know that the retail sector is not immune to these shifting tides.

On paper, an unemployment rate of 4% paints a positive picture, but when you drill down further, it’s no wonder that the cost of living is becoming such an increasing concern for Australians.

The recent inflation rate of 5.1% was another unwelcome surprise, especially when coupled with the fact that in February, the ABS reported the wage price index had risen 2.3% in 2021. That is, real wages are going backwards

The impact of the Reserve Bank’s recent rate rise is an attempt to stifle inflation, and this will play out over the coming months but as we speak, wage growth is not keeping pace with the increasing cost of goods and services.

You would think that a low unemployment rate would be welcome news for Australian retailers, but the fact is, many of these businesses are crying out for workers.

According to Cassandra Goldie, the president of the Australian Council of Social Service, while the economy has added almost 400,000 jobs since the low point of the pandemic in March 2020, the number of entry-level jobs was actually about 150,000 fewer than pre-pandemic levels.

So, the big question is: how do retailers stay competitive by attracting and retaining the team members they need?

While wages are important, it’s not the only factor and for many businesses, it’s not an option.

The first thing to consider is what is your employee value proposition? What can you offer team members that your competitors cannot?

Potential employees want to hear about career progression, the values of your company and your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

How can you demonstrate that you have created an environment they want to work in?

Despite what some people say, there is no quick fix to the current issues within the labour market.

Sure, there are steps that can be taken to help elevate the pressure, but it will take a combined approach from government and business to make the changes needed.

One thing is for certain, the balance of power has quickly shifted to the employee and it’s businesses that need to adapt to this new world.

If you are looking for inspiration about how you can be the leader that people want to work for, I recommend reading a recent article from my colleague Kaitlin Hastie.

Kaitlin was in New York for NRF 2022 and heard from former Morgan Stanley Vice President, Carla Harris, who outlined her Eight Pearls of intentional leadership.

Carla was one of the first black women to rise to a leadership position on Wall Street and her advice should be heeded by anyone looking to inspire themselves and their team for the road ahead. You can read more here.

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