With the gradual return of normality, the job market is moving again, and the industry is witnessing an uptick in hirings, firings, and everything in between – but why, asks US bedding retail expert Gordon Hecht, do so many businesses insist on treating recruitment as a one-time deal?
The old ‘help wanted’ section of the newspaper has been inconsequential for many years. Social media – especially LinkedIn – is the home of the bulk of ‘now hiring’ posts, and I get a chuckle whenever I see a big-ticket retailer posting open positions under that heading.
In our business, recruiting should be an everyday activity. We need to seek new talent as often as we seek new shoppers. Look at it this way – if you don’t have a $1m writer on your staff, it means that they’re working for someone else.
Earlier this year I made a fairly safe prediction – your top salesperson will quit your company, or your bottom person will stay. It looked like I might miss the mark on the first part – for most of the last 14 months, due to that Covid thing, many people were scared to trade jobs. And who could blame them? There’s the adage of ‘last hired, first fired’ when it comes to layoffs, and the restrictions, supply chain issues and workload really were not changing from company to company, or industry to industry.
April saw the first uptick in people changing companies. That means the best talent on your team may be considering cleaning out their desk and heading off. The time since March 2020 may seem like the longest decade in history, so the thought of a change of environment may seem quite appealing.
Whether your organisation has two members or 2000, it’s probably a great time to fearlessly meet this challenge head on. Job satisfaction is a difficult conversation to have, but the better time for a temperature check is before your employee resigns, compared to an exit interview. The goal is to keep the conversation on the positive side and calmly accept negative feedback.
You could start with the “if you owned the company” questions, like “what would you change to improve customer service, work/life balance, or store appearance?” Add in “what’s your favorite part of the job,” and ask which tasks seem meaningless, repetitious or tedious.
Anonymous surveys can give you a no-hold barred “you can’t handle the truth” job satisfaction overview. Google Survey is a simple, free way for your team to state their opinion without revealing their identity.
Move on to the future. Asking your people to describe their ideal job, ideal supervisor, and what they’d like their career to look like in 2022 and beyond can help them paint a picture – one with your company as the backdrop. As Dorothy Gale said in the Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home,” and if the grass looks greener in another pasture, it’s because they’re pouring more fertiliser on it.
The Clash famously asked “should I stay or should I go?” For your employees, that decision is mostly based on their relationship with their immediate supervisor. They’ll stay working for someone who they like and share mutual respect. When you see multiple exits from one department, it’s probably a good time to consider a change in management.
But here’s the good news. It may not be your team that’s looking for new surroundings – it could be your competitor’s team. This is a great time to build your talent pool, as people are ready for a change!
Understand this – you will never be fully staffed. There is always room on your team (and your payroll) for the next sales superstar, customer service angel, happy attitude delivery person, cashflow expert, and operations front runner. Adding these people are the key to survival and growing your empire.
Many companies claim the title of ‘best place to work’. The true measure is when they have more shiny shoes walking in than scuffing out. Open the job satisfaction conversation and actions to stop the out-door from swinging, and promote your company to keep the in-door open.
Gordon Hecht is senior manager, strategic retail for US-based Serta Simmons Bedding Company. He started his 30+ years in the home furnishings industry as a delivery helper and driver in Las Vegas, and later served in sales, retail management and consulting roles. This article was published in July 2021's issue of Furniture News magazine (see related).