Rethinking HR Benefit strategies in the Retail Sector

Last updated: 2022-07-184 min read time

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The retail sector was, perhaps, affected the most by the pandemic. Due to lockdowns and physical distance rules imposing a limited number of people in a building at any given time, high street stores saw their footfall dramatically drop, leading to financial instability or closure.

This instability passed on directly to retail sector employees who, in turn, were worried about where their next wage packet was coming from. According to the Washington Post, 649,000 employees handed in their notices in April 2021 in the USA, which was the largest number of resignations in over 20 years, and it wasn’t just the pandemic that triggered this. When asked, employees complained about longer hours, understaffing, pay cuts and even bad-tempered customers. On the flip side, retailers said there were nearly 1 million vacancies in the same month, which was twice the amount of 2020.

Things are slowly returning to normal even if covid itself is still lingering in the background, and as normality is returning for most retailers, it will mean they will have to rethink their HR benefits strategies to attract employees back again.

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What do retailers have to do?

The Washington Post makes an important point in their article by citing labor professors and economists who said 15 million retail workers found it hard to find reliable child care and public transportation during the pandemic, but now that things are returning to normal, retail employees are weighing up their options jobwise. They also say that companies have started to offer benefits that range from free food to subsidized college courses to attract and retain employees.

Rolling out a total rewards and benefits strategy across an organization can be tricky. It’s even trickier if a retailer has physical shops across a country or in various countries across the globe.

Help is at hand for retailers.

Retailers want an overview of trends consumers are buying, and this should be the same for keeping a check on what employees want too. Through a benefits platform or app, HR professionals can now get a clear and comprehensive global overview of the costs and spending on benefits and pensions from around the world, as well as see supplier costs and prices – all in a single view. HR professionals can also see which benefits are performing and which ones are not. Employers can create an exceptional benefits and rewards experience while reducing benefits administration, automating processes, radically improving the communication of their employee value proposition and ensuring better data governance and management of benefits and rewards costs. Therefore, the challenge of administering benefits across multiple countries, multiple time zones, and even multiple languages has been made easy through a platform and app, which is just what retailers need right now.

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What do the experts say on retailers?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) say retailers will need to adapt to new attitudes when it comes to shoppers. They say it “will require empathy and flexibility from HR” and that a “flexible digital system … can help build employee loyalty” with regards to work-life flexibility. One example they refer to is the huge supermarket chain, Costco, which provides generous benefits including health care and retirement plans, which in turn leads to lower turnover and happier workers.

We couldn’t agree more.

During the pandemic, we have been stressing the importance of benefits to tackle what has been called the great resignation. We also gave tips on how employers can tackle the fourth industrial revolution. Most importantly, we also gave tips on how benefits, such as health and wellbeing benefits, help to attract and retain talent.


If you want to know what current or future employees want for their benefits, read our Future of Work report below where we asked 39,000 employees in Europe what they felt was most important to them.

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