The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the busiest time of year for retail workers. Big box retailers and department stores are rethinking their seasonal hiring approach in light of the compounding issues of COVID risks, supply chain problems, and a labor market where workers can be more selective.
Some employers are relying on old tactics, like signing bonuses and increased wages. Others are reimagining everything from the hiring process to how and where the work gets done, like allowing candidates to send a pre-recorded video for their initial interview, creating more flexible schedules, and turning roles like call center representative into fully remote jobs.
We are also seeing companies work harder to retain their current staff by increasing pay and expanding opportunities like free college tuition.
These are all good moves. What will make them better moves is if efforts to improve job quality live on past the holiday period and current labor market dynamics.
Retail workers and others in the service industries have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. They have shown up every day, throughout the pandemic, to keep us fed, healthy, and well stocked, despite the risks of COVID. We cannot backslide on these modest gains.
I can imagine a world where service workers being paid fairly and offered benefits that allow their families to thrive is considered a baseline for doing business, rather than a last-ditch effort to meet staffing needs.
Let’s learn from the pandemic and provide our service workers with the high-quality jobs they have always deserved.