16 Strategies to Manage the Retail Labor Shortage

The retail industry is currently facing a significant labor shortage, with many stores struggling to find and retain employees. And unfortunately, the situation does not show signs of improvement. A recent news release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the number of hires and total separations had seen little change, going from 6.1 million to 5.9 million in November 2022. The shortage has made it increasingly difficult for retailers to fill open positions, leading to longer lines, longer wait times, and an overall decline in customer service. However, sometimes even the smallest change in how the retail store operates can bring significant results. 

In this article, we will discuss 16 strategies that retailers can use to manage this labor shortage and improve their operations. From implementing more flexible scheduling to rethinking the role of technology in the store, we will explore the ways in which even small changes can bring about big results for retailers. So if you’re a retail store owner or manager looking for ways to improve your operations and better manage your business during the labor shortage, read on to learn more.



1. Focus On Staff Retention

Focusing on staff retention is one of the most effective ways to combat the effects of the current retail labor shortage. Hiring new staff can be costly, time-consuming, and disruptive to the overall operations of a store. It requires resources to attract, interview and train new employees and a period of adjustment for both the new employee and the team, which can be a major distraction from daily operations and can negatively impact customer service and productivity.

Retaining current staff can help to mitigate these costs and keep operations running smoothly. When employees feel valued and satisfied in their roles, they are less likely to leave, which can help to reduce turnover and the need for costly replacements. Additionally, when staff members have been with the company for a while, they have a better understanding of the store’s operations and customers, which can lead to better performance and customer service. This way, retailers can ensure the smooth running of the store and provide the best possible customer service with a stable and content team.


2. Hire Before You’re Understaffed

Hiring before you’re understaffed is another strategy that can help retailers combat the effects of the current retail labor shortage. Waiting until the last minute to fill open positions can lead to a number of issues, particularly during the busy holiday season. Understaffing a retail store can lead to longer lines, longer wait times, and an overall decline in customer service, which can negatively impact sales and customer loyalty. Being understaffed during the holiday season can also cause increased stress and burnout among employees, which can further exacerbate the labor shortage.

By hiring before you’re understaffed, retailers can ensure that they have enough staff on hand to handle the increased demand during the busy holiday season. Additionally, retailers can use the hiring process as an opportunity to build a deep pool of qualified candidates that can be called upon as needed to quickly fill open positions as they arise, which can mitigate the effects of the labor shortage over the long term.


3. Consider Your Hiring Process

Considering your hiring process can be powerful when looking to strengthen your team during the current retail labor shortage. In today’s digital landscape, it’s important for retailers to promote open positions on various media, such as online job boards, social media, and other platforms. This can help to reach a wider pool of potential candidates and increase the chances of finding qualified employees.

One resource that can help to simplify the hiring process is to use an on-demand hiring platform like Adia. Adia’s platform connects retailers with a network of pre-qualified and vetted candidates, making it easy to find and hire retail associates quickly and efficiently. It allows retailers to create detailed job listings, review resumes, and schedule interviews with candidates, all in one easy-to-use interface to streamline the hiring process. This can allow retailers to find and hire employees quickly and efficiently, which can help to mitigate the effects of the labor shortage and improve their operations.


4. Adjust the Job Requirements

Adjusting your job requirements can be a powerful strategy for retailers looking to attract new talent despite the labor shortage. When retail worker job requirements are too strict or unrealistic, it can make it difficult to find and hire qualified candidates. This is especially true in a tight labor market where there are more job openings than available candidates.

One way to adjust job requirements is to consider lowering expectations. Ask yourself: what qualifications are really necessary for the role? For example, is passing a pre-employment drug test truly required to carry out the job’s responsibilities, or could this requirement be intimidating potential employees from applying to join your workforce? 

By lowering expectations and instead offering on-the-job training, retailers can open up the pool of potential candidates and find employees who are a good fit for their organization. Additionally, choosing employees with similar employment backgrounds, like hiring a former warehouse employee in a stocking and inventory management role, can still bring experienced workers to your team. This can help you maintain a full workforce of capable staff members even throughout the labor shortage.


5. Ensure Fair Wages

Ensuring fair wages can help a business to capture the interest of potential job applicants and reduce employee turnover. With retail worker shortages and plenty of competition among retailers, it is essential to offer good compensation to attract and retain the right staff. Fair wages can help to attract and retain employees who are highly motivated, dedicated, and skilled, which can help to improve the overall performance of the business.

Maintaining fair wages can also increase employee satisfaction, which can help to mitigate the high turnover effects of the labor shortage. When employees are paid fairly and feel valued, they are more likely to stay with the company long-term. Offering fair wages and supporting staff with minimum wage increases can attract and retain employees, which can help to reduce the costs associated with hiring new staff.


6. Offer Enticing Incentives and Benefits

Offering enticing incentives and benefits is highly beneficial for maintaining a workforce team of top talent. The examples listed below are all ways that retailers can make offers to help them attract and retain staff members:

  • Performance-based bonuses or commissions: This can help to motivate employees to work harder and improve their sales, which can help to drive business growth. 
  • A profit-sharing plan: Profit-sharing plans can help to align the interests of employees with the interests of the business and increase employee engagement.
  • Flexible scheduling: Offering flexible scheduling can help to attract employees who are looking for more flexibility in their work arrangements, such as those with children or other caregiving responsibilities. 
  • Paid time off: Offering more PTO, such as vacation days or personal days, can help to increase employee satisfaction and improve retention rates.
  • Compensation Package Benefits: Offering job perks like health insurance, retirement plans, and other employee benefits can help to attract and retain employees who are looking for more comprehensive compensation packages.
  • Bonuses: Holiday season-specific incentives are very important for retailers who can’t afford to lose staff during these busy times. Retailers can offer extra pay or bonuses to associates who work during peak holiday shopping periods. This can attract employees who are willing to work during these busy times and help to ensure that the business is staffed appropriately during the holiday season.


7. Highlight Flexibility

Retailers looking to attract job applicants in the current labor shortage should be sure to highlight the job’s flexibility. With many people looking for better work-life balance, retailers offering more flexibility in terms of hours and scheduling can be more attractive to potential employees.

Part-time or flexible schedules can be particularly appealing to people who are looking to balance work with other responsibilities. Retailers can also highlight the ability to work from home or remotely, which can be attractive to employees who are looking for more autonomy and control over their work environment.


8. Employ Part-Time Workers and Temps

Employing part-time retail workers and temps can be highly beneficial for retail businesses. Part-time workers and temps can help retailers to fill in the gaps in their staffing needs and can be especially useful during busy periods, like the holiday season.

 A benefit of hiring part-time workers is that they can be more flexible than full-time employees. Since they can be called in to work as needed, this helps retailers to manage their staffing needs more effectively. Part-time workers can also be a cost-effective solution, as they typically receive fewer benefits than full-time employees and may be paid a lower wage. Another advantage of hiring part-time retail workers is that they may be easier to find than full-time employees. Many people are looking for part-time work to supplement their income or gain experience in a particular field. 

Retailers can also find part-time workers and temps through on-demand hiring platforms. Adia’s temp agencies provide a quick and easy way for retailers to find part-time workers and temps that match their needs, with the added benefit of having a pre-screened and vetted pool of candidates to choose from.



9. Improve Your Onboarding Process

An efficient and effective onboarding process can help retailers to ensure that new employees are quickly and effectively integrated into the workforce, which can help to minimize the impact of the retail worker shortage. An effective onboarding process can be achieved by providing new employees with all the necessary information and training they need to do their job, as well as by making sure that they understand the company’s culture and values. 

On-demand hiring platforms like Adia can also help retailers to onboard new employees quickly and easily. Adia provides a comprehensive onboarding solution that includes pre-screening, background checks, and compliance management. This eliminates the need for the retailer to do these steps, saving time and effort. With Adia’s onboarding solution, retailers can focus on training and helping new employees integrate into their workforce teams while Adia takes care of the rest.


10. Learn How to Train Your Staff Effectively

Learning how to train your staff effectively can be important for retailers, as inadequate or ineffective training can lead to high turnover rates that exacerbate the effects of the labor shortage. By providing effective training to new and existing employees, retailers can help to ensure that their staff are well-equipped to perform their duties.

Unfortunately, training provided by some retail stores can often be unhelpful or unnecessary. But providing effective, relevant, and interactive training that is regularly updated and refreshed can help retailers ensure that their staff are prepared for their roles. Comprehensive training should include online courses, quizzes, and certifications. This way, retailers can ensure that their associates are well-equipped to perform their duties.


11. Reassess How Your Store Runs

Retailers can reassess how their stores operate to identify and enforce ways to improve the business. By revamping how a store runs and focusing on sustainability, retailers can potentially reduce labor needs, making it easier to find and retain employees. This can include reducing opening hours, shifting to e-commerce, and offering delivery-only services. 

One pro of this approach is that it can help retailers lower their labor costs, and adapt to the changing consumer preferences, as more and more customers are turning to e-commerce and delivery options. Additionally, reducing store hours and focusing on these business tactics can also help retailers better manage their inventory and reduce waste.

However, there are also cons to this approach. Reducing retail store hours and shifting to e-commerce and delivery-only can limit customers’ ability to browse and purchase products in-store, which could negatively impact sales. Additionally, retailers may lose out on the opportunity to connect with customers and build relationships in-store.

Overall, this approach may be more suitable for retailers with a strong online presence and those whose products can be easily sold online. On the other hand, retailers who rely heavily on in-store sales and foot traffic may not benefit as much from this approach.


12. Improve Your Scheduling

Improving your scheduling can help retail businesses maintain a workforce of happy staff members throughout the labor shortage. A key mistake that many retailers make is not taking into account the availability of their staff when creating schedules. This can lead to high turnover rates and staff burnout, as employees may feel overworked and undervalued. Instead, retailers should work with their staff to create schedules that take into account their availability and preferences.

Another common mistake is not being flexible with scheduling. Retailers often rely on rigid schedules that do not take into account the needs of their staff or the fluctuations in customer demand. To address this, retailers should be more flexible with scheduling and be willing to make adjustments as needed. Retailers should also consider using scheduling software to help streamline the scheduling process. Scheduling solutions can help to automate the scheduling process and make it more efficient. All of these methods can help to improve staff retention, as employees will feel more valued and respected.


13. Keep Active Managers On the Floor

Keeping active managers on the floor can be beneficial in easing the effects of the current retail labor shortage in a number of ways. For one, having managers actively working alongside their warehouse and in-store staff can serve as a model of good behavior and work ethic, which can help to motivate and inspire employees. Additionally, active managers are better able to understand the day-to-day challenges and needs of their staff, which can help them to make more informed decisions and take more effective actions to support their workforce team. 

Furthermore, active managers can help to improve the overall customer experience, as they are better able to respond to customer needs and complaints in real-time, which can help build trust and loyalty among shoppers. Overall, keeping active managers on the floor, instead of simply relying on them to only do admin, creates a more positive and productive work environment that is better able to attract and retain staff.


14. Don’t Be Afraid of Automation

Automation can be a powerful tool for retail stores to make the most of their existing staff and resources, which can help them to remain competitive even during the current labor shortage. Automation can be beneficial for workforce optimization and sustainability by helping retailers to increase efficiency and reduce the need for human labor in certain areas. For example, automated checkouts can help to speed up the checkout process, which can reduce the need for cashiers. Warehouse automation can be helpful for tracking and managing inventory. Automated scheduling software can also help managers to create schedules that are optimized for both staff availability and customer needs, which can help to reduce the need for additional staff during peak hours. 

Additionally, automation can help retailers to reduce labor costs and improve the overall customer experience. For example, self-checkout kiosks can help customers to check out quickly and easily, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Automated inventory management systems can help retailers to track inventory levels and reorder products as needed, which can help to reduce the need for additional staff to manage stock.


15. Keep Staff Morale High

Keeping staff morale high is an important strategy to keep staff motivated and improve productivity, customer service, and retention. One effective method to keep morale high is to provide regular opportunities for staff to provide feedback and have their opinions heard. This can be done through staff meetings, surveys, or other forms of communication. Rewarding hard work and achievements through bonuses, promotions, or other forms of recognition is another great way to boost morale.

Another way to motivate the staff and improve employee satisfaction is to foster a positive and supportive workplace culture by promoting a sense of teamwork, open communication, and team support. Additionally, providing opportunities for professional development and training can help improve morale by fostering a sense of purpose and a sense of growth.


16. Learn to Manage Staff Turnover

Managing staff turnover is necessary for a retail business to survive through the labor shortage. Even if you are implementing all the strategies outlined in the article to attract and retain staff, it is important to remember that there will always be staff turnover in retail. The key is to learn how to manage it correctly and smoothly. 

One way to manage staff turnover is by implementing an effective exit interview process to understand why staff are leaving and take steps to address any issues they may have had. You may also consider using temp agencies or on-demand hiring platforms like Adia to fill any gaps in staffing quickly and efficiently. Finally, maintaining open and effective communication with your workforce staff can enable you to ensure they feel valued and supported, which can also help to reduce turnover.


No More Staffing Issues With Adia

By following the suggestions outlined within this resource, retailers can strengthen their teams and take on new initiatives to help them maintain resilience and succeed despite the current labor shortage. 

Additionally, Adia’s on-demand staffing platform is a valuable tool for retail stores to mitigate the effects of the labor shortage. Adia’s platform helps businesses quickly and easily find qualified candidates for open positions, reducing the time and expense of traditional hiring methods. This allows for flexible scheduling and the ability to bring on temporary staff as needed, so retailers can ensure their store is fully staffed when it matters most. If you’re looking to find the right retail workers quickly and easily, consider signing up for Adia today and see the difference it can make for your business.

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