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Reskilling and Upskilling the Retail Workforce for the Post-pandemic World

The retail industry has undergone a significant transformation over the last decade and has emerged as one of the most fast-paced industries. Retail was one of the most severely affected sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it a tricky playground for talent. All the stakeholders felt its ripple effects in the value chain.

After incurring extreme financial losses during the lockdown, to build competency, resilience, and drive value, CHROs are taking a close look at the challenges they are facing and implementing strategies focused on reskilling and upskilling their retail workforce.

Top 6 challenges faced by retail CHROs

  • Talent acquisition: The retail space’s high-attrition challenge is replaced by the need to acquire the right talent as companies decide which staffers to bring back and when amid an uncertain revenue flow. HR leaders must get staffing levels right in the face of suddenly lower customer demand and online retailers’ rising dominance. 
  • Employee engagement: With low job prospects, monotony, and demanding work schedules, it is quite challenging to keep the frontline staff motivated and engaged. The employees are uncertain of their growth prospects beyond four to five years. In addition to a severe lack of salary growth, there is also little opportunity to move to other sectors.
  • Shortage of trained workforce across levels: The demand for employment is not matched by the workforce’s educational qualifications and skill levels. Currently, most of the employed workforce in retail is at Secondary or below academic level. This scarcity of trained workforce in the industry results in heavy investments in training entry-level employees.
  • Lack of essential skills desired in retail employees includes understanding regional etiquettes and the highly-personalized customer experience. Workforce hired during high seasonality often lacks the required skill set. Given the vast geographical, regional, and cultural differences in different cities and countries, standardizing quality processes is imperative.
  • Retaining talent: Over 90% of India’s retail market workforce is unorganized and struggles with high attrition as a consistent trait. Companies heavily invest in getting raw talent trained and job-ready, and every attrition results in a business loss. 
  • The Talent Scarcity Paradox: Evolving talent sources despite innovations in talent acquisition, increased mobility, and world sourcing, demand still exceeds supply in many areas–with analytical thinking, inspirational leadership, and a global mindset topping the list of in-demand skills. Overall, the interest in working in the retail industry appears to be low. 

This is in addition to coping with the fast-changing trends and economic pressures, such as increasing wages, the rise of e-tailers, etc. Retailers understand the importance of managing, reskilling and upskilling, and retaining talent to remain competitive in an evolving global scenario. 

The answer to this perennial problem lies in a more human approach towards the frontline staff, understanding their needs and providing them sustainable career prospects.

Reskilling and upskilling talent in times of crisis

Talent management post-COVID will be a lot about focusing on employee health and wellbeing, providing a seamless workforce experience, and above all, independent management of the workforce for the future. Another critical focus area for organizations this year will be about building capabilities in the workforce to embrace the future. 

Skilling is changing the world of retail and shaping the future of work. Upskilling to help the workforce remains critical; however, as the marketplace takes a digital route with the full-fledged comeback of physical stores remaining unclear, employers must reimage roles and retrain the workforce in the evolving retail space.

Retailers who adopt technology advancements to their business needs in a customized manner can thrive in this fiercely competitive market. Top talent is becoming scarce, and retailers are now applying analytics to understand their employees better.  They are using technology like analytics builder to get insights into learner’s behavior and usage patterns. 

The COVID-19 crisis has led CHROs to consider the effects of significant workforce transitions and the role that reskilling plays in helping close these talent gaps. In the post-pandemic world, learning goes beyond reskilling. CHROs need to create encompassing ecosystems around learning, collaboration, and a feedback mechanism directly linked to employee engagement and performance. As a preferred employment choice, retail demands that organizations portray a clear perception of the employer brand, promoting their strengths and values.

Preparing the retail workforce for the future of work

To truly engage the workforce, enable them to perform their role more efficiently, and build a better work-life balance, employers need to create an excellent digital experience via self-service training, HR tools, and modern-day technologies. Moreover, craft a clear career path with focused goal-setting and performance management reviews that enable employees to identify areas of improvement that will help them level up and grow their careers. 

As retail employees have clearly defined weekly and monthly metrics, goals, objectives, and high-pressure KPIs, we at Disprz have created a system where KPIs are connected to individual learning areas that enable employers to frequently check their KPIs and convey key performance highlights to the manager. The platform also intelligently identifies areas for growth and assigns a learning area to each employee based on their role.

Preview Disprz, to experience this high-end tool in action. 

We hope you liked the article! We’ll demonstrate how a popular retailer used our platform to drive outstanding business performance powered by data in our next post. Stay tuned!

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