99% of retail leaders say talent shortages are still a ‘worry’ for their business

Almost all UK retail leaders (99%) are worried about talent shortages in their business, with larger retailers most likely to have concerns, according to market research by the leading global software provider for the retail and hospitality sectors, Fourth

Overall, larger retail businesses are more likely to have concerns about talent shortages, with 63% of retailers with 3,000-3,999 employees and 40% of retailers with 4,000-4,999 employees ‘extremely worried’.

The findings, revealed in Fourth’s latest whitepaper Cost of living: Supporting your retail workforce as the crisis deepens, show that retail leaders’ concerns have increased since 2021, where previous Fourth research found that 94% of retail leaders were worried about talent shortages. 

Why is there a talent shortage?

The news comes as the UK faces fresh pandemic-related challenges as Covid infection rates increase across the country and more employees require sick leave. However, when asked for the top factors creating talent shortages in their business overall, 39% of retail leaders cited a lack of available people in the sector as the primary reason, compared to only 24% in 2021. 

What is causing talent shortages in your retail business?20222021
Lack of available people in the sector39%24%
People making career changes out of retail37%38%
Lack of correctly skilled people in the sector37%37%
Salary expectations are too competitive/high32%36%
People experiencing burnout or poor mental health as a result of the pandemic23%37%

How are retailers combating challenges?

While there is no silver bullet solution to resolve talent shortages, retail leaders are using workforce management technology to help improve their talent attraction and retention. More than two-thirds (69%) of retailers say they are using various different technologies to attract, recruit, manage and retain talent. 

Alongside this, some 62% of retail leaders say they are using a HR platform for candidate management to help eradicate hiring biases, as well as ensuring a diverse range of people interview candidates (32%) and removing personal details such as age and gender from applications received (30%).

Responding to this latest data, Sebastien Sepierre, managing director – EMEA, Fourth, said: “With coronavirus cases rising again in the UK, we will see continued instability in retail workforces as talent shortage problems combine with staff being off sick. With a lack of available people in the sector being a key issue, retail leaders need to consider how they engage and reward their employees to limit turnover, how they can diversify their recruitment and talent processes, and consider candidates with translatable skills from other industries. An applicant-tracking system (ATS) can help retail HR teams find the most qualified candidates, allowing them to search, filter, screen, and manage candidates in one place while also immersing applicants in the company brand and culture. Likewise, applicants applying through an ATS become a pool of contacts that internal recruiters can refer back to as new roles come up or other staff leave the business – a key value-add in an industry facing hiring challenges and turnover.”