Firms must break traditions to keep staff on shop floor

The UK retail sector is struggling to attract and retain shop floor staff,
research reveals.

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 carried
out by consultant William M Mercer.

The survey, which covers 20 retailers including fashion, food and DIY stores,
also highlights recruitment problems.

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

"Retailers need to take a broader approach 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. Just under half offer staff referral

James Lowman, public affairs manager at the Association of Convenience
Stores, which represents 25,000 outlets, said, "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 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 shop floor
staff, with chief executives earning on average £212,600 compared to £9,500 for
shop assistants.

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