Recruitment agency Retailworld Auckland manager Danielle McFadyen doesn’t see the hunt for good staff getting any easier in 2019.
“Recruiting experienced management into stores will continue to be a challenge as the New Zealand landscape continues to catch up with the rest of the world in identifying retail as a career.”
Management roles from third-in-charge to store manager are most in demand, and skilled buyers are also increasingly sought.
McFadyen, who helps some of New Zealand’s largest retailers find staff, believes the sector will be emphasising succession planning, effective professional training and development in 2019 to increase capability among managers.
“We’re still seeing significant gaps within the candidate market in the management space due to the big international brands entering and swooping up all the good and experienced talent, leaving existing retailers struggling to retain staff.”
Retailers, says McFadyen, have now had to “step up their game” in terms of what they offer people in terms of professional development, rewards and recognition.
“Retailers are truly starting to change the conversation around their brand and assessing what their internal culture is like, what initial and long-term training do they offer, their genuine career progression opportunities, are they challenging their people professionally and, incredibly importantly are they rewarding / recognising their people to increase retention.”
Mitre 10 is one of New Zealand’s biggest retail chains, employing 6500 people in locally owned and operated stores across the country.
Human resources general manager Lloyd Pinder expects 2019 could be Mitre 10’s “most difficult year yet” to find the right people.
“With low unemployment, the competition for talent is more intense, so it becomes harder. Finding the right calibre of people to work in our business is always a challenge and 2019 could well be the most difficult year yet.”
Pinder says the chain is always trying new recruitment channels, partners and technology to find staff and looking for new ways to choose the right people.
The biggest challenges facing retail in 2019, he says, will come from the increase in the minimum wage, changes to the Employment Relations Act and slowing immigration.
“For retailers, the employment issue becomes compounded in 2019 with less available people to employ, higher pay rates and more difficult employment legislation to work within – including the loss of the 90-day trial period.”
Pinder’s concerns are echoed by Retail NZ’s general manager for public affairs, Greg Harford, who says the Employment Relations Bill is bad news for business and employees throughout New Zealand.
“The abolition of the 90 day trial for large employers will have the perverse effect of reducing opportunities for those Kiwis most in need of opportunity,” Harford says.
“The 90-day trial period has been successful at creating opportunity for marginalised workers who would probably not otherwise be employable. Taking on a new employee carries significant costs and risks for an employer, and this means that hiring managers are strongly incentivised not to take risks.”
Harford says employers are unlikely to take on someone who has a chequered history, or has performed poorly in a previous role or has a criminal record.
“It’s good that the 90-day trial will be retained for small businesses that employ fewer than 20 people, the reality is that only 30 per cent of businesses fall into this category. In the retail sector, over 70 per cent of all jobs are in larger businesses. Those firms will be less likely to take a chance on a new employee under the new rules.”