The government is constantly discussing and revising its approach to the question of unemployment. 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?

Disability and unemployment

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

A target of getting over one million disabled people in to work by 2027 has been established, providing a great way for retailers to grow their head count and help to meet this ambition in doing so. 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.

Boostiing diversity in workforce

When it comes to gender diversity in the workforce, findings in 2017 concluded that retail companies in the FTSE 100 are ahead of other industries in this area. 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.

Businesses can benefit largely by implementing an emphasis on diversity in gender and cultural background into their company values, and one way to action this is through the hiring process. 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 partnerships

Collaboration projects between retailers and prolific charities which focus on helping those struggling to secure work can also help to reduce unemployment.

A partnership with a mental health/ disability charity can be a useful way to reach out to those who are out of work, encouraging them to apply regardless of a mental or physical health issue.

CT Shirts have worked proudly in the past with charities across the board. The men’s clothing 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 men’s shirts retailer got involved with one of the charities ‘’Get Hired’’ days, popular with many of the trust’s partnered businesses — 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.

Varied training opportunities

Despite a string of retail store closures, some of the high street’s biggest names are continuing to grow via their digital marketing and ecommerce channels. 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?

These skills can require slightly more in-depth training, but they could prove invaluable for businesses looking to avoid the dreaded redundancy option. 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 of unemployment rates, by simply expanding their search criteria and providing people from all backgrounds with opportunities within their companies. As some companies pave the way, it’s down to other industry players to make big changes too.


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