Sales assistant shortage highlights recruitment problems

The
UK retail sector is struggling to attract and retain shopfloor staff, new
research has revealed.

The
average staff turnover rate for sales assistants is 38 per cent, according to
the 2001 Survey of Pay, Benefits and HR policies in Retail by consultants
William M Mercer.

The
survey, which covers 20 retailers including fashion food and DIY stores, also
highlights the problems involved in recruiting staff.

David
Wreford, senior consultant at Mercer, said retailers have to start looking
beyond the traditional recruitment areas.

"Attracting
new staff is a real issue for retailers – they now need to take a broader
approach to recruitment and target different employee groups such as students,
retirees and mothers of young children who may be interested in part-time
work," he said.

The
most common recruitment method is advertising in the local press, with 95 per
cent of respondents relying on this approach. Just under half of those
questioned offer employee referral bonuses – where staff are given a financial
reward for recommending a successful applicant.

James
Lowman, public affairs manager at the Association of Convenience Stores, which
represents 25,000 outlets, said retailers should improve training and offer
staff better prospects.

"It’s
hard to attract staff and keep them in the industry. Staff turnover is high but
because of the nature of the work you would expect a transient and largely
part-time workforce.

"Improved
training will help to lower the turnover and retailers should offer more of a
career path to stop people being attracted away from the sector," he said.

The
survey also reveals a huge gulf in pay between boardroom and shopfloor staff.
The research finds that chief executives in the retail sector earn on average
£212,600, store managers are paid £30,250, while shop assistants have a median
wage of just £9,500.

www.wmmercer.com

By Ross Wigham

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