Everyone knows that unemployment is an issue here in the UK. Fewer 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?
Working with a disability
Last year, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work launched a campaign to encourage disabled people to enter the workforce. It is called the “Disability Confident” employer scheme which provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence to recruit and develop disabled employees.
Interestingly, the government has an objective to welcome one million more people with disabilities to the workplace in the next eight years. By looking at the Disability Confident list of employers that have signed up, we can see that branches of big names such as Asda, Barclays, and B&M Bargains are all committed.
FTSE 100 retailers are doing well when it comes to improving gender diversity in the workplace. Retailers should focus on broadening their selection process when it comes to the recruitment process. 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.
If the workplace is more diverse, you grow as a business. 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.
Working with local and national charities
To aid those who can’t find work, brands should be looking at working with charities when they can. Partnering with a disabled or mental health charity, for example, can help you reach those who are out of work because of a disability or health issue and encourage them to apply.
Navy suits retailer, Charles Tyrwhitt is doing this already. 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. Like many retailers that The Trust works with, CT Shirts took advantage of one of their “Get Hired” days — a day of greetings and interviews with young people who have been through The Prince’s Trust Programmes to get to know some potential employees.
The right kind of training
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 they are given the opportunity to progress in another area of the business after redundancy? There are advantages and disadvantages to this idea, but it’s certainly something for retailers to think about before making mass redundancies across the business. 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.
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