Aside from Linkedin having a blog has proved to be useful as well. My readers have been very generous with their time, insights, and ideas. I’ve become a stronger HR practitioner as a result. It’s also given me an opportunity to help others.
So I’m glad to have another chance to do so here. About a week ago I asked people in my Linkedin network for assistance on a project. Jennifer was kind enough to help me with my question and afterward she posed one to me:
I'm on a cross-functional resource group committee that is developing recommendations to present to senior leadership on a variety of topics. One of the items we are trying to tackle is making us more of a "destination employer." Part of this is addressing work/life balance and management scheduling to try to make our company and industry a little more appealing. Have you done anything along these lines? Or do you know of any retailers that have had success with this? Our biggest challenge is that we are a 24/7 business, but the idea of having to work so many nights and weekends is not always appealing to the young people we are trying to attract. Any thoughts or direction in which you can point me? We were hoping to have some concrete examples of what other retailers have done.
It sounds like her company’s trying to do something good to attract quality employees. Here’s my response:
Wow, that's a tough one! As a retail veteran I sympathize with what you're going through. Kudos to your company for trying to tackle the issue via the committee.
I think that you can't do much about the industry's image. Retail is retail and in America there's a certain stigma attached to it. Low pay, long hours, little respect... that's not always the case but as they say, "Perception is reality". I also don't think that imitating other retailers will help, either. "Destination employers" stand out from the crowd, not use other companies best practices. Think Best Buy's ROWE program, The Container Store's "lead the market" philosophy when it comes to recruiting top talent, or Zappo's customer service. Each one is unique, successful in their own right, and incredibly difficult to duplicate. They fit their respective company's and no one else's.
What you can focus on is your company's unique culture and offerings. At H&M, we really want candidate's and employees to understand the difference between us and other clothing companies. We don't sugarcoat the long hours and physical demands that come with the job. However, we also emphasize the unique culture and benefits we offer.
- After 5 years FT employees are eligible for 4 weeks vacation. Managers are eligible for 5.
- FT and PT employees are eligible for health benefits.
- We strive for a 70% internal promotion rate.
- With H&M’s rapid global expansion the company can provide opportunities for employees to support new and growing markets, both here in the US and internationally.
Candidates and employees respond well to this, if the fit is right. So for your company it might be helpful to ask, "What makes us unique and appealing?" and develop a recruitment and retention strategy around that.
I would also suggest, if you haven't already done so, is to have different employee groups represented on your committee. Having their voices heard might help to uncover some insights and ideas that's easy to miss by senior management. We did this earlier this year when it was time to revamp our employee handbook. We brought together a focus group composed of store, District, Region, and office level employees. Their input led to a complete redesign of the handbook as well as the new hire onboarding materials. As a result, the handbook became less of a punitive document and more of one celebrating the company and what the employee's role was within it. It also made the onboarding experience more memorable!
I apologize for the long response. It was a great question and I wanted to give you a worthwhile response. I hope this was helpful.
Take care Jennifer and good luck! Let me know how things develop.
So I gave the best advice I could give at the time. So what suggestions can you give to Jennifer? Leave a comment!
*In the interest of full disclosure Jennifer agreed to let me post this exchange on my blog as well as reviewed the post prior to publishing. Thanks Jennifer!