Industry Look: How Retail Can Prioritize Healthy Workplaces as Hiring Accelerates

Industry Look: How Retail Can Prioritize Healthy Workplaces as Hiring Accelerates

By Tricia O'Connor

Aside from healthcare, perhaps no other industry needed to be as swift or agile as retail during the pandemic. Customer-facing entities like grocery stores had to successfully maintain operations while keeping employees and customers safe. E-commerce sites had to prioritize workplace safety in warehouses and in many cases alter logistics and supply chains. Even corporate staffers had to relocate from HQ to remote, requiring even more technology problem solving.

But that was all very 2020.

Now that retail is entering the next phase of post-pandemic recovery, what steps does this industry need to take to thrive?

EBI continues our ‘Industry Look’ series where we deep dive into various industries like healthcare and recreation to find out how they need to evolve in our new business environment.

Retail Roar

Hiring is roaring back to all-time highs as the pandemic continues to slow. Employers added more than 900,000 jobs in March alone, and a recent survey shows 52 percent of employees plan to job hunt this year, up from 35 percent in 2020. At the nucleus of this turnover tsunami is a newfound awareness among employees of potential health hazards in the workplace. Efforts to protect employees and customers are more than just incentives to boost confidence and safety. Employees are expecting and searching for employers that actively work to protect their workforce.

So how do retailers get ahead of this trend and prepare their businesses for this new recruiting opportunity? As the pandemic hit in early 2020, technology companies pivoted and evolved to solve for new problems faster than ever before. When health guidance seemingly changed daily, software emerged to capture various forms of health data and began to provide actionable insights for employers. Retailers reacted quickly to ensure the safety of their employees and customers while continuing operations as smoothly as possible.

Permanent Solutions

Now is a great opportunity for retailers to make permanent the temporary measures they used to boost safety confidence in employees and customers while combining proven best practices in screening, technology, and testing to mitigate risk in the future. Protecting employees and advocating for their safety will increase the value of your brand and make it more attractive to consumers and new talent alike.

Retail organizations best position themselves to attract a skilled talent swell if they focus less on ‘beating’ a particular virus, and instead create a unified culture and strategy that addresses the importance of employee safety, both on the job and at home. Studies show 46 percent of employees feel less connected to their current employer, and 42 percent say company culture has dwindled during the pandemic. Taking actionable health and safety measures to demonstrate how your retail organization is prioritizing employee wellness is one way to rebuild those connections with your employees and recruit new talent as well.

Here are some proven health and safety options that can boost retail’s recovery:

Health Screenings

Conduct daily health screenings for employees before they enter the workplace by answering questions regarding potential COVID-19 exposure and symptoms. They can fill out the questionnaire off-site in less than a minute using any device. This significantly reduces the possibility of a viral spread within the workplace, which would result in increased health insurance costs and a disruption in business operations.

Pre-Employment Background Screening

The more people who are unemployed, the bigger the numbers of job candidates applying for open positions. With a bigger field to choose from, it’s an opportunity to hit a home run by hiring the right person for the right role. However, when hiring in this unbalanced labor market it’s important to review your screening program and policy. Most screening companies, including EBI, can also customize packages tailored to retail, hybrid, or remote workforces so businesses get the precise background checks they need.

Address Health and Safety Culture

As companies look to the future and what changes they need to permanently make, one thing is clear: health and safety culture will be at the forefront of these changes. Although COVID-19 is the catalyst for health and safety efforts now, companies have long tried to solve for the cost of illness to their business each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation reported in 2015 the average cost of influenza for businesses averaged $87 billion annually. Now add what is potentially an annual seasonal outbreak of coronavirus to that number, and you are looking at a very real, very large problem retailers must solve. If COVID-19 has collectively taught us nothing else, it is that viruses spread quickly, often with dangerous and terrifying outcomes.

EBI Insight

Retail has come a long way since the upheaval during the height of COVID-19. But, if retailers truly want to seize top talent during this turnover tsunami (or prevent top talent from leaving), it’s imperative you prioritize a healthy workplace.

Our goal at EBI is to support your business goals with valuable knowledge, tools, and insight. As the most-awarded Consumer Reporting Agency in the HRO Today’s Baker’s Dozen history, EBI’s commitment to helping all industries recuperate from pandemic-related challenges is unwavering. We are proud of our range of solutions, from COVID-19 rapid tests to remote drug testing, to propel businesses through our post-pandemic economy.

Our team of experts can meet you wherever you’re at on your journey and support your needs to future-proof your organization. Contact us for assistance. 

*A version of this article originally appeared in Total Retail Magazine.

Workplace Health & Safety

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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