By Udit Mittal, MD, Unison International
The expanse of retail industry is the reason of its constantly burgeoning requirement of human resources. Dispersed across multiple domains, retail is one of the largest industries. Retailing has evolved, being integrated with new technologies, electronic payment systems and dynamic platforms for business, to an interspersed industry with huge requirement of skilled employees.
Services such as logistics and delivery also come within the ambit of retailing. In addition to this, service providers and public utility services are included within retailing industry. Online retailing, one the other hand, has been one of the largest sections in the internet domain.
This relates a number of diverse sectors, which otherwise would have little relevance in the industry. Traits such as information technology, integrated banking systems and so on are now beginning to influence this industry.
Since Retail is now an integrated sector of diverse domains, the need of skilled work force in this industry has raised exponentially. Apart from unskilled workforce, the requirement of skilled labors is as pertinent as in other sectors of employment and industry.
Specially, in mid level and senior sections, there is no difference in the hierarchy and performance requirement as required in other industries.
Large players in retail such as Walmart and Amazon hire thousands of skilled human resources throughout the globe. In India, in operational sectors such as operations, accounts, logistics and customer service, the requirement of human resources is soaring high. There is a large disparity in salary packages across the industry, based on competency of skill and personal attributes.
The traditional method of recruitment in retailing is structured. Companies follow a common pattern of recruitment employing diverse screening techniques based on the job description. The objectives of these tests are to know the level of competency and skills in the candidate.
However, what these systems lack is the precise judgment of the candidate's approach to the company and professionalism. Hence, many subservient factors emerge out to be dominant in an employee affecting his productivity and hence affecting the company.
Conventionally, recruitment in retail is a series of processes: Application, Initial Interviews, Test and Final Interview. Application is the process providing basic information to the recruiter. It has contact information and notes of the candidate's professional history.
Initial interview is a personality check, usually by a single person or a group consisting of senior level employees and HR personals. This is, in fact, the most critical phase for the recruiter to judge the candidate. It is followed by skill tests. Candidates are made to go through situations and questions they would face in real time job scenario.
For example, for hiring in customer service department, candidates will be made to handle real time customers. Common questions such as aptitude and basic numerical abilities comprise a good fraction in these tests.
The final interview is almost a repetition of the initial one, but by the manager or a senior officer. These are to ensure consistency of a candidate's responses to that of the initial round. However, it is not limited only to this. Behavior, conduct and personality are also analyzed in this phase.
Recruitment in retail industry is alight upon a number of deficiencies. Most of the employers strive to retain and engage the most competent employees. There is a common impression about this industry to lack "growth factor" and good package compared to other sectors.
However, the industry has become dynamic with inclusions of diverse talent requirement in fields such as information technology, business analysis, marketing and finance.
A lack of consistent platform or system for training and certifications of employees is a prevailing issue in retail industry. There are existent models for training, but they are not constant across the sector.
There is a huge scope for improvements in this particular area. As retailing has become pervasive, large organizations are directed towards diversified customers.
Hence, to achieve customer satisfaction, services are also to be set to address this facet diversity. Language proficiency and compatibility to work with diverse customers are the expected skills in retail employees.
Recruiting candidates through innovative methods are proven to be successful. The technique of Gamification is a widely accepted practice across many industries. This will assist retail industry to get new talents. Using professional networking sites as well as social networking helps reaching out to candidates.
Employing undercover recruiters is another effective method to hire competitive candidates. Undercover recruiters observe the candidate in real time working scenario. They observe the prospective employee in conferences or events hosted by the company.
A recruitment challenge that has to be undergone during the hiring process is a practical way to judge a candidate. Innovative referrals could be used to get the best employees onboard. Building up a brand is a lucrative option. Retailers should endeavor to make their company and workspace a better place to work.
Employment brand could be created by distributing freebies, and maintaining considerable freedom on part of employees. Retailing industry could get hold of best employees by shifting its recruitment processes from traditional modes to innovating techniques, which are being utilized by other industry sectors.