In today’s tight economy, businesses are often forced to push human resource issues to the back burner or, unfortunately, face layoffs to cut costs. When supermarkets post a job opening, they’re deluged with applications due to the high unemployment rate, which could suggest there’s little need for a proactive recruitment and retention plan.
The current high jobless rate masks the fast-coming shortage of talent, which will accelerate as the 70 million-plus baby boomers retire in increasing numbers. In addition, the pool of talent to replace them will not only be much smaller, but the new leaders will face a daunting range of issues, including competition, changing customer lifestyles, health care costs, food safety and security, interchange fees, energy use, sustainability, technology investments, and government regulation.
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) launched the Future Connect leadership development initiative last year to help the U.S. supermarket industry meet these challenges. The first Future Connect conference in October 2009 in Dallas drew 1,800 executives from all ranks and sectors of the country’s food industry.
Attracting New Hires
This initiative continues with ongoing education through webinars and other online learning opportunities, a Future Connect track at the FMI 2010 event in May, and another free-standing conference in 2011. FMI will also explore recruitment and retention strategies at its Human Resources/Training & Development Conference in September.
A down economy presents one of the best times for companies to strengthen their work forces. Many exceptional people are seeking work and are inclined to explore job opportunities in different industries. In addition, the food industry is well positioned to attract new hires for at least two reasons: Supermarkets provide a reliable and stable place of employment – not recession-proof but more resistant than businesses in other fields.
Many prospective employees now have a passion for food, inspired by the Food Network, Web sites offering creative recipes, cooking classes and schools, and even the film “Julie and Julia.” Supermarkets can focus first on their existing employees, particularly part-time workers, a captive audience and a cost-effective strategy. Engage them in the technologies that power virtually every aspect of operations. Train them, mentor them and offer them scholarships to food industry education programs. Help them develop career paths that can lead to rewarding long-term jobs.
Educate them about the industry’s contributions to society – how we provide an abundance of affordable food, help feed millions of hungry Americans by donating to food banks, and serve as “first responders” to emergencies such as natural Disasters.
Help employees find a work-life balance. Talented job-seekers, especially younger ones, aren’t just looking for good pay, but are increasingly eager to work for employers that care for them personally and Professionally.
Create a culture employees never want to leave. Teach them new skills, challenge them to excel, and when they succeed, celebrate their achievements.
Enhancing recruitment and retention won’t be an easy undertaking, for we must shatter long-standing stigmas about industry jobs. Let us work to correct these misconceptions by showcasing how the supermarket business is friendly and responsive to the community, as well as a high-tech, high-skill trade and profession with visionary, compassionate
Excellence in grocery industry employee and company performance is recognised on a national stage in the U.S. through two Food Marketing Institute programs: the Store Manager and Maximizing People Potential (MAXX) Awards.