This post was authored by our friends at Homebase, who provide scheduling software for business owners.
As the world recovers from the effects of COVID-19—including local business shutdowns and layoffs—retail establishments around the globe are reopening right in time for the holidays.
According to a recent survey by Ipsos, a marketing research company that has tracked consumer behavior during the pandemic, 54% of Americans say they had visited a retail store in the last month—a percentage that has steadily increased in the last couple of months based on the firm’s studies.
If you own or manage a business, your reopening strategy likely includes hiring new employees and setting up a scheduling strategy that works for everyone involved. Using the right tools to optimize these critical business processes can set you up for success as you reap the rewards of welcoming customers back.
Create an easy hiring experience
When reopening, it’s important to not only find top talent for your retail shop, but also to do so quickly to get your business up and running.
Today’s recruitment processes should be as contactless as possible. Having a plan and the right technology installed is key to conducting successful interview, training, and onboarding experiences.
If you don’t already have an online program that can help with all of these buckets, find one. Your candidates have most likely gotten pretty comfortable with doing everything virtually. Make a point to show that you’ve kept up with the times and can adapt will attract top talent.
The first step in implementing the right technology is to ensure your video interviewing strategy is easy for the candidate to participate in—meaning the login process is simple, and there aren’t too many bells and whistles to confuse them.
It’s also preferable if they don’t have to download any type of new software, so well-known platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, or even Facetime are great options.
Next you’ll need to implement a virtual process for sending and receiving documents. When hiring someone virtually, your candidates and new hires will need to send legally required paperwork back and forth to complete the process.
Hiring and onboarding software, like Homebase, can help transition your business to a paperless environment and make it easier to complete the hiring process without having the candidate step foot in your location.
With an automated onboarding system, your new employees will receive a welcome packet containing all the necessary documents that need to be signed. You can also include any extra paperwork you’d like them to complete.
They can then e-sign every form, and send it back to you. Once everyone has finished signing the documents, the software can securely store them for you.
Businesses like Houston-based plant boutique Terracotta have seen the benefits of Shopify partner Homebase’s hiring tools first hand.
I really like how it streamlines the hiring process. It makes onboarding easy…I really appreciate how it makes my job easier.
Write a meaningful job post
A hastily written job post benefits no one. Inadequate job postings can result in under-qualified applicants, and the right applicant may be overlooked because they did not highlight their more relevant work experiences on their application.
Instead, write a job description that contains your minimum requirements for the role. This will reduce the number of applicants who don’t meet your needs and boost the amount of applicants who have work experience relevant to your open position.
According to research from Indeed, “most people search for roles that match their skills and experience, and so, using terms like ‘ninja’ and ‘rockstar’ in job titles and descriptions can confuse job seekers and put them off from applying.” Avoid using gimmicky words in the title to stand out, because oftentimes it could have the opposite effect.
You should also focus on providing clarity and accuracy in the description of the role itself. Candidates may be turned off by industry-specific jargon and confusing phrases they might not understand if they’re not already on the job.
Here’s an example of a bad job description:
“We’re looking for a rockstar retail sales-increasing ninja who can navigate the labyrinth of customers while managing the rest of the staff as they do other things like restock shelves and clean the store. This employee will also serve as an ambassador for their co-workers and manage the schedule for every employee.”
Now, here’s a good example of a description for the same job:
“We’re looking for a retail manager who can lead the sales team, create employee schedules, and ensure the staff is completing their tasks on a daily basis.”
Start looking now
Waiting until you’re fully reopened to begin your hiring process and fill empty roles will result in lost time and missed opportunities. Hold initial interviews online, check references on potential new hires, and line up a list of the best candidates. This way when you make moves toward fully reopening, you’ll be able to focus on conducting final interviews and job offers.
Once you’ve found great candidates to interview, the next step is to draft a list of questions. Be careful, there are several laws around what you can and cannot ask during an interview in order to prevent discrimination.
Here is a safe and creative list of questions to help get you started:
- What would you do in a difficult work situation?
- You’re behind schedule and a client or employee needs your help—how do you respond?
- Tell me about yourself.
- How do you think your previous employer would rate you from 1-10?
- Can you teach me something in 5 minutes?
A chunk of candidates currently looking for jobs will also include minors on the hunt for a summer position. While it’s great to have an influx of eager workers coming in when you need them the most, things get a bit more complex and strict when it comes to child labor laws.
LEARN MORE: Our partners at Homebase wrote a great blog post on the 7 tips for hiring minors that you can reference.
Also consider workplace culture in your hiring decision. A candidate’s ability to fit into the culture you’ve worked hard to cultivate among your team is arguably just as important as their qualifications. When you put too much weight on a candidate’s qualifications, you might overlook other key personality traits.
Determining if a candidate fits into your culture starts with asking the right questions in the interview:
- Describe your ideal work environment.
- Tell me about your preferred work style
- How would coworkers describe your work style?
- What characteristics make the best boss/manager?
- Describe a work environment in which you’d be unhappy.
It’s also a good idea to include your existing employees in the interview process—they are the main drivers of your workplace culture after all. Choose a few leaders among your team to have a conversation with your favorite candidates and give them the opportunity to provide feedback on who they think would be the best fit. Doing so will also show your existing employees that you value their opinion.
Revamp your benefits package
The coronavirus pandemic has cast a new light on which benefits really matter—including sick leave policies, health coverage, and any other wellness-related offerings.
A recent study found that 1 in 4 business owners in the US now believe short-term disability and life insurance are more important than they were before the pandemic.
Additionally, around 40% of surveyed employers said they now prioritize critical illness and hospital indemnity coverage more than before.
Mental health benefits have also increased in popularity since the pandemic began due to a rise in stress, depression, and anxiety. A survey by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions found that 53% of employers are now offering emotional and mental health programs to their team.
Job seekers have had time to think about what they need in terms of benefits, and offering the right package could be the deciding factor between your business and a position elsewhere. Take a look at what you currently provide and determine if you can afford to make any improvements. To better understand how much you can afford to offer, you can view this helpful resource to learn more about the financial aspects of each benefit bucket.
In order to make the most of your post-COVID hiring process, you’ll need to utilize the tips mentioned above:
- Create an easy hiring experience with simple virtual tools
- Write a clear, concise job description
- Make the most of your interview with questions focused on not only the employee’s work style but also their culture fit
- Revamp your benefits package to fit the needs of today’s workforce
Adapting your hiring practices to fit your new business needs as well as the needs of today’s job seekers will make your reopening strategy that much more effective. Optimizing your hiring plan will help you get your operation up and running, and you’ll reap the rewards in no time.
Staff hiring plan FAQ
What should be included in a hiring plan?
- Job Description: A clear definition of the position, including duties, responsibilities, and qualifications.
- Recruitment Strategy: A plan for attracting and sourcing qualified candidates, such as online job postings, employee referrals, and job fairs.
- Selection Process: A step-by-step guide for evaluating and selecting the best candidate, including how to conduct interviews and check references.
- Onboarding: A plan for introducing the new hire to the company, including training and orientation.
- Follow-up: A strategy for checking in with the new hire and providing support during the transition period.