Multimedia Plus’s latest survey tapped 149 senior-level retail and hospitality executives to gauge their sentiment heading into the fourth quarter and all-important holiday shopping season.
The results showed that wages and staffing were the top concern of respondents, and was followed by 28 for supply chain, 15 percent for global events and fuel prices, and 5 percent for loss prevention.
The survey results were released as retail and other service industries face ongoing labor shortages as well as workforce trends such as “quiet quitting” where employees fill their work commitments but do not go above and beyond it. The struggle for retail is that consumers expect a higher level of service and a more engaging shopping experience, which requires well-trained staff.
David Harouche, chief executive officer of Multimedia Plus, said that as the company has seen in past surveys, “industries that rely on customer service must have the best talent in place to deliver that expected level of service and communicate the brand’s vision. Stellar customer service is related to human interaction, and we see that no matter what is going on around the world, senior executives are focused on that personal experience as an important growth factor.”
When specifically asked about challenges around staffing and the upcoming holiday shopping season, 65 percent of respondents identified recruiting as the number-one issue. Onboarding new store associates was a top challenge for 14 percent of retailers and scheduling came in with 8 percent.
“After two years of adjusting to a new normal, retailers and hospitality executives are scaling for pent-up demand,” Harouche noted. “Getting enough trained staff in place is a major focus and is more important than other issues that we have seen in the past.”
Regarding other workforce-related issues and priorities, 45 percent of those polled said new employee training will be a major focus in the fourth quarter followed by task management at 25 percent. Putting in place employee chat and associate mobile apps was a priority for 12 and 9 percent of respondents, respectively. “We are seeing here that employers are optimistic that they will be able to secure good talent and want to have technologies and systems in place to have staff trained and provide that quality service customers are seeking,” Harouche said adding that when asked about the top training initiative for the holiday season, operations training came in at 28 percent followed by product knowledge with 24 percent and leadership development at 22 percent.
Harouche said while “so much has changed over the past two years, companies understand that their ability to grow and attract new customers is in their staff. The better the talent and the better they are trained, the better the ability for the organization to do business.”