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    Catch Up on the 4 HR Trends Changing the Retail Industry in 2024

    September 21, 2022

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    Top HR Trends Shaping the Retail Industry in 2023
    Dibyajyoti Dasgupta
    Written By
    Dibyajyoti Dasgupta

    If you are looking to update yourself on the latest HR trends in the retail industry, you’re in the right place. From a renewed focus on empowering the frontline staff to skills emerging as the new currency, read about the latest trends shaping the retail industry and learn how investing in the right HR technology can help you get ahead of your peers.

    From the humble grocery store to premium brand outlets selling the latest fashion apparel, the retail industry is a key enabler of our lifestyle. 

    Though impacted by the pandemic, the retail industry has rapidly evolved to meet these challenges with the help of the latest technologies. Technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), process automation, artificial intelligence, big data, analytics, and augmented reality have been at the forefront of the retail growth story. In fact, studies project that total sales will reach $30.3 trillion in 2023 making it one of the largest private industries in the world.  

    The retail industry also employs over 142 million workers according to International Labor Organization data, making it one of the largest employment generators worldwide. A large chunk of them works at the store level, making them the public face of the organization. To realize the dream of hypergrowth, it is imperative that CHROs in the industry reimagine their talent strategy. One of the first steps is to keep yourself updated about the latest HR trends in the industry. 

    In this article, we’ve curated four of the most important HR trends in the retail industry that you need to be aware of so you can succeed in the rapidly evolving industry. 

    Learn more: Top 10 Talent Management Trends for 2022

    Trend #1 - 2023 Will Be the Year of the EXTech-driven Employee-First Retailer 

    Lack of a sense of belonging, workplace stress, and insufficient support for personal growth for employees were identified as major factors that contributed to the sense of disconnect and a disproportionately high (as much as 60%) employee turnover in the retail industry in the past. On the other hand, studies by organizations such as Gallup also show that engaged and empowered employees resulted in 18% more productivity and 23% more profitability.  

    Retail brands are catching up with these findings. Early trends indicate there is a growing demand for powerful cloud-based solutions with a focus on EXTech or employee experience technology. This will go long way in enabling the frontline worker and ushering in the era of a tech-led employee-first retailer with exceptional employee experience as the cornerstone of business. 

    Trend #2 - The Rise of the Inclusive Retail Workforce 

    In 2018, H&M Group, a well-known Sweden-based multinational clothing brand faced a massive backlash for advertising an image of a black male child with the tagline “coolest monkey in the jungle”. Not only did H&M have to apologize and pull the product from their shelves, but they were also forced to temporarily close some of their stores in South Africa.  

    The H&M episode is a notable example of the risk retailers face if they neglect diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their business model. In today’s globalized world where retailers have multiple outlets across varied geographies, DEI is more relevant than ever.   

    Historically DEI initiatives have been confined to store layouts, promotional images, and marketing strategies. However, this is changing fast. A McKinsey report indicates that organizations that invest in diversity and inclusion of their workforce significantly outperform their competition on all spheres such as innovation, customer connection, and revenue. Therefore, companies working towards an inclusive workforce are one of the most important HR trends for the retail industry in the last few decades. 

    Organizations must institute changes in processes so as to remove subconscious biases, create a culture of inclusion, and have a mechanism for support and redressal. 

    Learn more: Top 10 Employee Engagement Trends For 2022

    Trend #3 – Skills Are the New Currency 

    Employee turnover and labor shortages remain two of the biggest challenges for HR leaders in the retail industry. To fill the ever-growing need for talent in the industry, brands are recruiting for potential rather than degrees. According to a recently published Forbes article, skill-based hiring was up by 63% across industries. Simultaneously, emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, etc. continue to disrupt the industry while creating a constant need for reskilling/upskilling the existing workforce. 

    In this skills-driven market, HCM solutions with integrated ontology-based skill graphs may emerge as game changers with their ability to enable significantly greater organizational agility. A dynamic AI-based skills ontology coupled with an exhaustive skills library can help the HR team take stock of the skills inventory across the organization. Meanwhile, AI-powered hiring and the ability to create an internal talent marketplace can help retail brands streamline recruitment while allowing them to rapidly deploy, motivate, develop, and retain their workforce.  

    Trend #4 - Big Data and Analytics To Treat Customer Experience and Employee Experience at Par

    Great customer experience is the pillar upon which the retail industry stands. In the retail business, your employees not only play a pivotal role in creating memorable customer experiences, but they are also the face of your organization for your external customers. Studies show that happy employees have a significantly positive impact on business outcomes a happy salesperson can generate 37% more sales compared to an unhappy salesperson.  

    The retail industry was one of the first industries that recognized the importance of data and analytics for delivering exceptional customer service. With the growing recognition of employees as internal customers, there is a greater push to tap into the same data and analytics-based method to set up internal processes that enable and empowers employees to be the best version of themselves. 

    Implementing cloud-based digital HR solutions can help you get ahead of this HR trend as it can actively capture employee feedback and sentiment in real time.   

    The retail industry is one of the most dynamic industries. More importantly, it is one of the few industries which can create an impact even at the grassroots level.  As the industry continues to grow, HR leaders will face a plethora of unique challenges.    

    Read more about the HR trends in the retail industry and learn how technology can help you stay on top of your game. Download the comprehensive guide now.

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