retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday we had a story about the high demand for retail talent and how companies are fighting to attract the people they need, which led me to comment:

I do believe that many of them have helped create their own problem through an unwillingness to prioritize their employees, to make their stores great places to work. They’ve put far more effort into reducing labor costs rather than investing in their employees. And this approach has come back to haunt them.

One MNB reader responded:

You hit that nail right on the head. Companies have viewed employees as a negative cost line. Now they are reaping what they sowed.

From another reader:

Boom! You hit the nail on the head KC.  I work at a large Northeast/National supermarket chain, where reducing labor costs is the name of the game.  It may mean sending people home on a busy Saturday to make budget, regardless of what the store looks like, or that customers have to wait longer.

Still no training programs in place for prospective department managers or assistants - none.  Just the next man up, whether or not he/she is qualified or even wants the position.

Bottom line KC is what you've always said - until you view associates as assets and not liabilities, you will never be successful.  And I'm confident Jim Donald will make changes in this area going forward.

MNB reader Kelly Dean Wiseman wrote:

Very well put, Kevin: “many of them have helped create their own problem through an unwillingness to prioritize their employees”
I don’t think I have ever heard anyone sum this issue up better.

From MNB reader John Kemp:

Interesting story on the War for Talent and I think it's being felt across a lot of different sectors of business.

In mine (Trucking), good Drivers are very hard to find and seem to be becoming even more scarce so many companies are dramatically increasing wages and benefits.

My Boss recently predicted we will be seeing non-oil field driving jobs paying 100k per year soon and I think she is right. UPS Drivers are in the low 90's with their new contract and WalMart Drivers are in the high 80's.

Not every company can afford those wages but the rising tide does lift all boats so to speak.

As a matter of fact less than 10 years ago one had to have a referral to even apply for a Walmart driving job and now I see them advertising like everyone else.

One company recently announced free online college degrees for Drivers and family members which I thought was a fascinating retention tool in addition to giving kids a huge jump without post college debt:

In other related news, Amazon just announced that they are looking for part time work at home people here in South Dakota which is a first:

The interesting thing is that they are paying $10.00 in an area with 3.2 to 3.4% unemployment with starting wages anywhere from $12.00 to $14.00 per hour or more.

I realize the differences between work at home and working in a local retail gig but for an entry level person $2.00 to $4.00 per hour for a short drive is a huge trade off.

I've recently heard from a couple of employers here locally who can't find any workers, let alone good ones so they are reluctant  to expand and frequently can't keep up with their current workload.

Responding to a conversation that took place here earlier this week, one MNB reader wrote:

Two billion dollars (for philanthropy, promised by Jeff Bezos) gets a "meh" from one of your readers. Really?

Regarding Amazon/Jeff Bezos - what are people afraid of? Get your own house in order before pointing fingers.

I was talking to someone last night who told me that he’d read that Elon Musk said that Jeff Bezos wasn’t a very nice guy. That may be true … but my first thought was to wonder how nice a guy Elon Musk is. My second thought was to wonder was Musk was smoking at the time…

Finally, from another MNB reader:

Thanks for sharing the Mary Poppins Returns trailer.  It put a smile on my face.  And I’m so happy to see Dick Van Dyke is back.

That was cool, wasn’t it? And seeing Dick Van Dyke not just onscreen, but dancing gleefully at age 92, made me very happy.
KC's View: