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Attracting top talent is essential to running a successful retail business and being able to do this relies on knowing what workers want from prospective employers.

It means anticipating and spotting trends and making your business somewhere people want to work.

Julian Sallabank, CEO of recruitment firm Ignite, says current recruitment trends suggest the emphasis is very much on flexibility and choice for employees, particularly if you want to attract Millennials.

He says that there are five trends emerging that retailers would do well to heed: the increasing demand for part-time and flexible work, contract work and being able to work remotely. Also, employees want the focus to be on the results they get, rather than on the hours worked.

“Despite the changes in recruitment methods, basic principles still apply,” Mr Sallabank says. “It’s important to find people with the right skillsets and it’s absolutely crucial to make sure there is a strong cultural fit.

“Employers should be looking for employees that can deliver business results, not those who can simply fulfil attendance requirements,” he said.
Here are the five top trends, identified by Ignite.


  1. More demand for part-time work

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there are now around 120,900 more people working part-time than there were a year ago, and around 35,300 fewer people working full-time.

Many skilled workers are chosing to work part-time for better work-life balance. They are cutting down their hours to spend more time with their families, meet their caring responsibilities or pursue hobbies.
A more flexible labour market, can mean businesses get the help they need, when they need it, without having to pay full-time rates.

Julian Sallabank said, “Organisations should consider part-time arrangements because it can be a very effective way to get the skills you need in the business. Often, part-time workers can deliver higher productivity and better results than full-time workers because their attention is more focused when they’re at work. The key is to choose the right people for the right role.”

2. Increased demand for flexible work

Offering skilled employees flexible working days or hours can be what gets them over the line to work for you, even if you can’t pay them top dollar.

Mr Sallabank said this can be a win-win as the business gets the high-performing, skilled staff it needs while the employee gets the flexibility they need to attend to other commitments.

“Employment and family life shouldn’t have to be a proposition. Most businesses can offer flexible working arrangements where an employee comes into the office later, goes home earlier, or takes work home with them.

“For example, the ABS found last year that around 30 per cent of dads now take advantage of flexible work hours to look after children, compared with 16 per cent of dads two years ago.”

3. A focus on business outcomes rather than the hours worked

Businesses are increasingly focusing on results, rather than slavishly following processes or demanding that particular hours be worked. Businesses can alternatively emphasise meeting objectives, looking to the future and ensuring employees understand the measurable impact of their actions.

Mr Sallabank said job descriptions often concentrated on process, rather than on outcomes. Giving people the room to be creative encourages imaginative ideas and greater ownership.

“Organisations that want to get the most out of their employees will empower them to contribute beyond a role description by setting broad target outcomes and unleashing them to achieve them however they wish.

“In addition to creating a culture of accountability, placing the emphasis on outcomes encourages collaboration, innovative thinking and adds a much greater sense of freedom and ownership.”

4. More gigs and more contractors

A trend has been emerging for a while, it’s called the rise of the gig economy and it’s being driven by millennials, who don’t necessarily want to be tied down to a single employer and would prefer to work for various employers on a cluster of different projects.

The advantage for employers is that they can manage short-term demand spikes, without having to take on full-time staff.

Mr Sallabank said there was an upsurge in the number of people who wanted the flexibility and excitement of contract work, rather than what they saw as the boredom of working for just one company.

“That delivers benefits to organisations who can “tool up,” hiring specialists for specific projects instead of trying to find the rare perfect employee who can go from project to project in the organisation seamlessly,” he said.

5. More remote workers
Many people are taking advantage of technology and globalisation to work from home or elsewhere, rather than commute every day. Obviously this can be a more difficult challenge for bricks and mortar retailers to offer this arrangement.

Mr Sallabank said that workers who lived across the country from their employer or are local and work from home, often got better results, as businesses are able to find the right person for the role regardless of where that person performs the work.

“At Ignite, we not only advise our clients to consider these sorts of arrangements but we practice them ourselves. We offer work-from-home flexibility, our talent is dispersed throughout the country and we even have key team members working from the other side of the world. I believe this is good for business and great for morale.”

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