Viewing high turnover in the retail sector as inevitable can become a self fulfilling prophecy, leading HR professionals warned this week.
Their comments came on the back of a report from the Henley Centre by London Skills Forecasting Unit which criticised some employers for being resigned to high staff turnover.
Juris Grinbergs, Littlewoods group HR director, said high turnover and skills shortages should not be regarded as unavoidable. Retailers who believe nothing can be done to address poor staff retention rates can create the very situation they are trying to prevent, he said.
“If people measure turnover properly and understand why people are leaving, then the problem can be tackled,” he said.
Carol Kavanagh, Storehouse HR director, said good recruitment practices and training are essential to reduce turnover. She said, “For me it’s about getting the recruitment process right so you can invest in the right people.”
The report, Skills for Tomorrow’s High Street, also found only half the retailers questioned offered any form of staff training. Only the construction industry has a worse record.
The unit was set up by the London Tecs two years ago and aims to influence decision makers so that education and training provision in the capital matches employer demand.
Maxine Dolan, Tesco head of retail training, also rejected the idea that high turnover is inevitable. She said Tesco is committed to taking on staff who lack traditional academic qualifications and providing them with training. “For us, qualifications are not the key issue; it is getting the right people to train,” she said.
The report concludes that retail staff increasingly need to be multi-skilled. It says retailing is no longer a low-skill occupation and employers must train staff to survive.
The findings come as Harrods is raising pay by a third for some staff to try to improve retention.