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Tackling unemployment in the retail industry

The government are constantly facing calls to challenge and alleviate unemployment levels. Less people out of work means fewer people claiming job seekers allowance and a rise in overall disposable income, both advantages for the state of the economy. With the closure of high street stores set to continue in 2019, and retail workers facing the highest levels of unemployment, it’s important that successful retailers do what they can do reduce unemployment in the industry — but how?

Employment and disability

In 2018 the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work launched an opt-in campaign for retailers to help reduce the amount of people that are out of work because of a disability. It is called the “Disability Confident” employer scheme which provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence to recruit and develop disabled employees.

The Disability Confident list of employers that have signed up includes some of the biggest names in retail, such as Asda, Barclays, and B&M Bargains all registering their commitment. The government aims to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027 and this is a great opportunity for retailers who are doing well in the industry to expand their workforce

Encouraging a diverse workforce

Retailers certainly need to focus on revamping their selection process. In 2017 it was reported that retail companies in the FTSE 100 are ahead of other industries when it comes to gender diversity. This can ensure that those who’ve lost a job in a retail position face equal opportunity when it comes to finding a new role.

Both businesses and employees benefit from a broadened attitude to gender and cultural recruitment processes. Ultimately, when a workforce is representative of a customer base, it can lead to a better understanding of the target market and an improvement in business performance.

Charity collaboration

Charity collaborations can also prove helpful for companies looking to help people who were prevented from work by their ability to get back into employed roles.

Partnerships with a disabled or mental health charity will help you reach those who are out of work because of a disability or health issue and give them a sense of encouragement.

CT Shirts, suppliers of quality suits trousers, does extensive work closely aligned with charities to help resolve this issue. This company has a long-standing partnership with the Prince’s Trust which involves fundraising and a mutually beneficial relationship. This charity works closely with vulnerable young people who need a helping hand to get their lives back on track.

The Prince’s Trust holds “Get Hired” days — a day of interviews and expert advice with the help of other young people who have been through the charity’s programmes to get to know some potential employees.

Cross-discipline training

Digital marketing and ecommerce-based roles are thriving, counteracting a lot of the negativity which surrounds the retail industry currently. Therefore, an important consideration to make is whether retail employees should be trained in other areas of the business too. Or at least should their knowledge of the company and its products or services be valued so that their given the opportunity to progress in another area of the business after redundancy?

While it requires a lot of consideration to implement, the advantages to these systems could help to combat the systematic nature of redundancies. Cross-discipline training can also encourage more loyal employees and therefore those who are more invested in the performance of the retail business as a whole.

Retailers can certainly change the tide for employment levels in the industry, by following the right procedures and trying out new approaches. As some companies pave the way, it’s down to other industry players to make big changes too.

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