Retailers in the grocery sector face two major challenges: The first is a high demand for new roles and skills. The second is a perceived shortage of talent, made more complex by a high attrition rate when it comes to existing employees. While these are both real concerns, they also offer an opportunity for growth, and forward-thinking grocery retailers can actually unlock huge value if they evolve their talent models in relation to these new demands. 

The changing workforce in grocery retail

Like it or not, companies are being forced to rethink and redesign the roles and tasks within the space. This is because technology, automation, instant delivery, online sales and social skills are changing, which in turn are influencing the roles and responsibilities of grocery store workers. The way in which grocery retailers equip and empower their employees will have an important impact on how they retain staff and attract new talent. This will affect grocery retailers across the board from commercial to digital to logistics, as the demand increases for technical, planning and analytic skills. For example in the US, customers are preferring self-checkout which is decreasing the demand for cashiers. That said, in practice, cashiers are more than just bag packers, and rather make an important contribution as a human touchpoint of interaction. So perhaps these same staff members can evolve into new roles if trained up in tech and digital customer service. 

Reducing short-term attrition by addressing employee experience

At the moment, there is a disconnect between what an employee and an employer view as important. If the pandemic taught us anything, it's that while employees require investments like benefits, perks and better pay, what is even more important to them is to feel valued and build social and interpersonal connections. To strike this balance, companies need to invest in a robust onboarding program as well as continuously work to motivate their in-store teams. At the end of the day, you cannot fix what you don’t understand so it’s vital to take the time to get to know your staff, find out what they value and meet them in the middle.

Invest in future talent

As grocery stores shift due to the above-mentioned factors like automation, they also need to respond to shifts in consumer behaviour. For example, the rapid shift to online channels has been immense and many grocery stores are battling to attract the right talent to manage these highly technical channels. This is an area that requires investment over a three to five-year horizon which is far more strategic than simply reacting or playing catch-up in such a competitive space. 

Attract and retain digital talent

Grocery retailers have to be able to attract, as well as retain digital talent. This includes data scientists, developers and data engineers. The businesses that will really succeed in this space are those that will focus on anticipating digital-talent needs and linking this to compensation and benefits, as well as creating digital-focussed career paths and opportunities within existing teams. 

The bottom line

Change is inevitable and no industry is excluded from this phenomenon. But change in the grocery retail space doesn't need to be daunting. Rather it should be viewed as an opportunity for growth for both the business itself and the staff who work there. 

To fund your next talent model and digitise your grocery store, contact Merchant Capital and fund your grocer in the next 48 hours.

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