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Retail Trends

Three HR resolutions for retailers in 2013

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In retail, it takes more than awesome products and great brand names to make profits - it takes great people. As we kick off a new year, we can expect HR executives to put more focus into training and development to make their all-star cast of employees even greater.

According to the latest installment of the NRF and Mercer Retail Compensation & Benefits Study, retail companies have been increasing their concentration on initiatives to develop their talent and offer career advancement opportunities – and we can expect this momentum to carry into 2013.

Coming from the last three years of the study, here are three training and development trends we predict are on retail HR executives New Year’s Resolution list:

Resolution #1: Place greater focus on technology training. The line between in-store shopping and online shopping is shrinking by the day. In 2012, Square, a mobile payment service company, was adopted into 7,000 U.S. Starbucks stores, and Burberry is currently testing the service in their boutiques. As we continue headfirst into the omnichannel age, retailers know they need to focus on keeping their employees ahead of the curve as well.

According to the study, employee technology training programs are becoming increasingly more common among retailers. In 2013, it’s not only the tech-teams and IT departments need to stay on top of technology: store-level training on mobile apps, new POS systems, and product capabilities is crucial for seamless service for shoppers.

Resolution #2: Further concentration around career development. Just as the industry grows and changes, so do its employees – and more retailers are offering opportunities to grow within their organization, according to the study. Mentoring programs are becoming more popular in the retail industry, along with leadership training programs and virtual learning or webinars for career development.

Macy’s, who has trademarked the phrase, “Growing People Who Grow the Business”, has their own “Leadership Institute” and promotes training and development opportunities for every level of employee – a great role model for the industry. Judging by the NRF Foundation’s online retail course sales, many retailers are developing their talent by investing in courses related to math, merchandising, and loss prevention.

Resolution #3: Continue innovating careers in retail. Retail is no dead-end job. According to the study, international assignments, internships, and job rotations have become more common among retailers in recent years.  Retailers are continuing to work hard to attract the talent they need to win in the marketplace, and provide their people with a multitude of career paths to travel down. Advancement and development opportunities have retail becoming a career destination for many who never considered.

According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the retail industry has added about 300,000 employees in the last two years alone, and as retailers continue to hire more employees through 2013 we can only expect the momentum continues towards strengthening from within.

These trends stem from a very small portion of the NRF and Mercer Retail Compensation & Benefits Study (and by small, this is just one tiny snip from the 1,113 page report). The full report is available for purchase online.

Happy New Year!