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For Assessment 2, you selected a sector to study (e.g. agriculture; construction; financial services; health care; hospitality; manufacturing; mining; retail; transport). You will write an essay on the key challenges in attracting and retaining a workforce in your selected sector.

Your essay will draw on at least five themes from Week 1 to Week 11 of this unit, being those most relevant to your selected industry sector.

Your essay will draw on the academic literature (including the annotated bibliography you developed for Assessment 2), and develop an argument applying that literature to your selected sector.

The Two Categories of Retail Sector - Organized and Unorganized

Retail is known as a most fascinating industry. Brands are leaving no stone unturned to attract more and more number of customers to their stores. They not only attract the customers but also want to satisfy the customers with their actual products and the service of their staff. This exemplifies the need and emphasizes on hiring the right employees for representing their brands. Retail sectors are facing high and low tides at many fronts to attract good quality of employees for their industry. The success of any industry lies on its competitive staff and the staff attributes depends largely on the human resources of the organization. I have studied many research articles on the issues like HR practices, staff selection policies, reward/recognition and have gone through case studies published in the journals for compiling the assessment 2.I will use all that gathered knowledge and information in this essay writing (The Foundry, 2014).

The retail sector could be divided into two categories. One is organized retail and unorganized retail sectors. If I talk about India, it is discussed by one scholar named Dr. Amrinder Singh in one of his research publication that  only 8% retailers are organized rest 92% come under the unorganized category (Singh & Bansal, 2011).

Organized retail sectors follow the HR practices like recruitments, selection, training & development, recognition, compensations, rewards, Incentives, performance appraisals and discipline whereas unorganized retailers are not adaptable to the HR practices fully.

Objectives of this writing are:

  • To analyze the HRM practices being used in retail industry.
  • To highlight and discuss the challenges faced by HRM in attracting the workforce in the retail sector.
  • To project the key challenges in retaining the employees of retail industry (Kramer, 2014).

There are many challenges which are faced by the retail sectors which will be discussed here in this section.

  • Rise in the online shopping competition - Customers these days rely more on the online shopping and prefer shopping from their personal gadgets as and when required. For example; Amazon the biggest online shopping store had recently made the profit of £18bn in the UK itself.
  • Recruitment - Improper selection done by the Retail HR managers leads to wastage of resources and damage the reputation of the organization. They are not able to hire and attract the customer oriented workforce who is willing to work for long working hours and are compatible with the technology as well (Begum, 2015).
  • Low wages- The recruitments of staff in the retail sector; especially the sales staff is done at low wages and are asked to work for longer hours. This makes them frustrated and inefficient in dealing with customers and they lose interest in their jobs.
  • Non-career builder jobs offered - In a short span of time, very few front lines grow to become big stores in near future, which further result in dicey career growth of employees (Goswami, 2012).
  • Lack of retention - Lack of retention of the hired employees is the biggest challenge in attracting the workforce to the retail sector. Retail turnover reached at the rate of 69 %, as per the Hay Group-U. S in around 2012. This was the result of the continuous process of hiring, training and staff replacement. Sales declined due to changing staff and their lack of experience (Jensen, 2018).
  • Attraction to women employees - It is by and far seen that mostly the retail stores are employed with women staff and they are really working well in terms of soft-spoken skills with customers and are multitasking. They adapt to training terms and work with more perfection. But the challenge in this aspect is they are not offered any additional benefits like maternity leave and sharing of working hours which could aid in attracting them for applying for the jobs in the retail sector.
  • No job security - As the market hits the recession, employees are shed off, as most of the retail employees are part-time workers and entry-level based on the minimum qualification. So this portrays the image of insecure jobs offered by the retail sector to the workforce. HR should work for this job security which will automatically pull more number of job seekers (Brunot, 2017).
  • Workforce engagement – As per 2018, report published by office for national statistics, UK: the growth trends depict that lack of employee engagement had lead to increase in staff turnover at the rate of 40% in the UK; retail industry. The employees that stay in this sector are left unattended and uninspired which decline their work potential and actual talent (Nalla & Varalaxmi, 2014).
  • Outdated training methods – The recruitment staff are trained time and again with time-consuming and instructor based training. They are provided with training content handbooks and instructional videos. Moreover, training provided to the employees is not value added.
  • Employees creativity is not paid attention- The retail sectors that implement the creative suggestions / ideas of their employees and develop them in their practices rise high than those who do not nurture the creativity of their workforce resulting in non-retention of their employees. This challenge should be dealt with utmost care as internal employees are the link between the customers and the company. Internal employees act as a mouthpiece of the organization in the market. So it is always suggested and preferred that HR policies should be structured in a way that they should have a place for the employee encouragement in their management (Growth Engineering, 2018).
  • Career Advancement-Employees of the retail sector are unaware of their paths to grow in their career ahead. They lack in self-confidence and are uncertain about their job security in this profile.
  • Stressful environment - Long working hours, shifts, casual jobs, unfavourable working environment lead to fatigue and stress of the working employee. This unsatisfied work culture motivates the employee to leave the jobs of the retail industry and switch to other industries (Bhatla & Pandey, 2014).

The challenges faced by retail sector in attracting and retaining the workforce can be overcome up to the maximum extent by adopting and practising the processes like

  • HR Management
  • HR planning
  • Selecting Suitable recruitment and selection criteria
  • Performance management
  • Learning, development and career enhancement of the workforce with proper management
  • Exhibiting motivation, perks, rewards and employee compensation schemes.
  • Legal and ethical contexts.
  • Quality of work-life balance (Sikri & Wadhwa, 2012).

Although HRM and strategic HRM is a vast term and contains the multiple topics and diverse areas to be paid attention as the management student I am only marking and narrating the points related to the challenges of the retail sector in the section ahead.

HR management of the retail sector should plan their strategies and processes as per the interest of their employees. Their objectives should be laid as per the individual and collective employees. They should amend their policies and processes as per the employee's feedback and valuable suggestions. They should train their employees for all types of desks and should robust their training modules by adapting the latest training techniques. To retain their employees, they should shed off the outdated training methods and should focus on training their employees through the mobile gadget. This will not only raise the interest of the trainee and will also reduce the training cost for the retail company (Pandey, 2016).

HR Practices Adopted by Organized Retail Sectors

HR should plan precisely as per the demands of the customers and their changing needs.HR needs to organize their staff well; especially at the time of increasing seasonal demand. Manpower planning   is to be done in the infrastructure as per the demand and requirement of the product to be sold in that particular section. Tracking of employees should be done in systematic manner with proper tracking and planning, as there are multiple retail stores in same geographical location (Qureshi, Sajjad, & Ansari, 2013).  There is huge amount of cost involved in hiring, training and replacement process. Retention of trained employees is becoming tougher in retail sector. Here another challenge is to generate the strong and long-lasting team of employees. HR should plan in a way focusing on eliminating job insecurity by offering excellent packages of compensation. Retention should be weighed equal to recruitment strategy (Sultana, 2014). 

Challenging task for retail HR is the employee turnover .HR faces trouble in finding the suitable staff that is willing to work in irregular work time. Recruitment policies should be innovative to attract and recruit the workforce. Top talented employees should be hired and retained who will add on to the continuous growth of the company. Also talented staff is poached off by the upcoming retailers and other sectors like BPO's. This means that HR department is always under the threat of poaching. HR should adapt diverse recruiting strategies for this sector (Khillare, 2016).

The employees of the retail sector should be given appraisals on the basis of their performance. For engaging the employees of this industry they should be tagged with the special badges and their names should be highlighted on the display boards on the basis of their performance. This will arouse the competition spirit and will make them busy in competing with each other and will result in raising the sales productivity. Their annual appraisal should be based on the number of badges collected in the entire year   and their input to the company in increasing the company's profit.   This entire performance management system is the responsibility of the Human resource department of the retail sector (Bhatla & Pandey, 2014).

HR department should nurture and built the culture that will embrace the positive experience for visitors in the retail stores. The internal staff of the stores should attend the customers very effectively and should gratitude them for their visit to their store. HR should plan proper product training and customer handling to its entire supporting staff. Internal staff should be made competent enough to handle the customer's queries and should be guided to offer the valuable suggestions to the customers as and when required (Jensen, 2018). As most of the employees enter the retail sector with basic qualification, HR should make provisions for grooming of the employees for retaining them till longer era. This may include personality development classes, verbal communication classes and technical training. Such classes will not only make them confident but will also upgrade them as per the latest technology. This will definitely result in shaping their customer handling competency.  

Objectives of the Writing

HR of the retail industry must lay off the unique techniques and schemes to motivate their internal staff. This could be achieved by extra rewards and compensation techniques. Extra perks should be given to the deserving and hardworking employees and most efficient staff should be highlighted by the HR on monthly basis. Annual promotions should be surely done with the hike in the salary as per the percentage criteria and annual income. Employees suggestions and feedbacks should be practically implemented which will make them feel belonged and important part of the organization (Kumar, 2016).

There is variety of obligations in context to employment; which are to be looked upon by the HR dept of retail. Retail sectors are required to stick to the Employment Standard Act (ESA), 2000. Provision of overtime should be laid off properly for the employees who work for more than 44 hours. Even if the employee is on the designation of AM (Assistant Manager) he or she will be entitled to the overtime pay as per the act, so it is always better than HR should create the job description as per the position. It is mandatory for the HR to reassign the same designation to the women returning from leave or the women could be transferred to other location nearby with same post and salary.HR who fails to comply this comes under the surveillance of legal notice. Moreover, as per laws; retailers have to pay equally to both men and women employees. In ethical context; HR is desired to draft the contract properly and same should be communicated clearly to the employee at the time of hiring, as there is tendency of job termination of seasonal employees. Policies should be designed in a way to eliminate the racial discrimination among the employees whether it is for dress code or any job profile (Jha, 2012).

Retail jobs are different than other sectors and require longer working hours of employee's even in off days and festive season. Due to this the employees working in retail sector are not able to maintain balance between their personal and work/professional life. The work environment turns poisonous due to low motivation and increased stress level. Retail HR should work on employee wellness program, compensation policy, gift vouchers, discount coupon and spouse employment scheme to maintain this balance (Jensen, 2018).

Conclusion & Suggestions

All the challenges faced by the retail sector in attracting the workforce and retaining the workforce are figured out and discussed separately in the above part of the essay. Also, few suitable and possible HR practices are mentioned in this context to support the discussed challenges in another part of the assessment. To conclude I can say that, HRM practices are very essential for the growth & development of the retail sector, especially for enhancing the workforce attraction and retention facet of the retail industry. Some of the retailers are already practising the HR practices but most of the retailers are still not on their right track of HR Management. There are few suggestions for the retail industry which are listed below:

  1. Retailers need to be more creative in managing huge manpower in a competitive market.
  2. They should try to chase the best talent and should maintain their company’s goodwill to attract more employees to their sector.
  3. They should project their attributes in a way so that employees prefer to join this industry from job prospect for the longer term (Sultana, 2014).
  4. Retailers are required to offer handsome salaries and attractive compensation packages in both direct and indirect ways.
  5. The retail sector needs to engage their workforce with attractive schemes and should try to boost the employee's morale.

References

Begum, H. (2015). Challenges in the path of Retail Industry. International Journal of scientific research and management (IJSRM), 3(3), 2275-2282. Retrieved from https://www.ijsrm.in/v3-i3/12%20ijsrm.pdf

Bhatla, N., & Pandey, K. (2014). The impact of HR issues in retail sector in emerging market. IOSR Journal of Business and Management (IOSR-JBM), 16(1), 01-07. Retrieved from https://iosrjournals.org/iosr-jbm/papers/Vol16-issue1/Version-7/A016170107.pdf

Brunot, T. (2017). HR Challenges in the Retail Sector. Retrieved from https://yourbusiness.azcentral.com/hr-challenges-retail-sector-1648.html

Goswami, B. (2012, April). Attrition Issues and Retention Challenges of Employees. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 3(4), 1-6. Retrieved from https://www.ijser.org/researchpaper/Attrition-Issues-and-Retention-Challenges-of-Employees.pdf

Growth Engineering. (2018). The 7 Biggest Retail Challenges in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/retail-challenges/

Jensen, N. (2018, January). Employers Face Challenge In Attracting, Retaining Talent. Retrieved from https://www.sdbj.com/news/2018/jan/21/employers-face-challenge-attracting-retaining-tale/

Jha, S. (2012). Attrition Issues and Retention Challenges of Employees. International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, 3(4), 1-6. Retrieved from https://www.ijser.org/researchpaper/Attrition-Issues-and-Retention-Challenges-of-Employees.pdf

Khillare, S. (2016). Challenges Of Human Resource Practices In Retail Sectors. International Journal of Engineering Technology, Management and Applied Sciences, 4(3), 1-7. Retrieved from https://www.ijetmas.com/admin/resources/project/paper/f201603091457540069.pdf

Kramer, B. (2014). There is no B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human:#H2H. Retrieved from https://bryankramer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/BK_H2H_eBook_F.pdf

Kumar, R. (2016, October). HR challenges in retail sector. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/310263048_HR_CHALLENGES_IN_RETAIL_SECTOR

Nalla, B., & Varalaxmi, P. (2014, Nov-Jan). Human resource management practices in organized retailing – a study of select retailers. International Journal of Business and Administration Research Review, 1(2), 63-73. Retrieved from https://www.ijbarr.com/downloads/2014/vol1-issue2/11.pdf

Pandey, A. (2016). Current Human Resource Management Practices in Organized Retail Outlets. The International Journal Of Business & Management, 4(3), 100-103. Retrieved from https://www.theijbm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/15.-BM1603-045.pdf

Qureshi, M., Sajjad, R., & Ansari, Z. (2013, January). A study of the contemporary issues of human resource management in the retail sector. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259975786_A_STUDY_OF_THE_CONTEMPORARY_ISSUES_OF_HUMAN_RESOURCE_MANAGEMENT_IN_THE_RETAIL_SECTOR_OF_SAUDI_ARABIA

Sikri, S., & Wadhwa, D. (2012). Growth and challenges of retail industry in india: an analysis. Asia pacific journal of marketing and management review, 1(1), 1-14. Retrieved from https://indianresearchjournals.com/pdf/APJMMR/2012/September/1.pdf

Singh, A., & Bansal, G. (2011). Impact of Organised Retail Outlets on Unorganised Retailers. International Journal for Management Research, 1(2), 109-151. Retrieved from https://www.publishingindia.com/GetBrochure.aspx?query=UERGQnJvY2h1cmVzfC84OTkucGRmfC84OTkucGRm

Sultana, A. (2014). Human Resource Management in Organized Retail Industry. Global Journal of Finance and Management., 6(6), 491-496. Retrieved from https://www.ripublication.com/gjfm-spl/gjfmv6n6_01.pdf

The Foundry. (2014). Retail recruiting trends. Retrieved from https://bythefoundry.com/files/RRT_whitepaper_print.pdf

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