Holiday cheers

Retail employee turnover jumps as workers find better work this holiday season, a Korn Ferry survey finds.

This holiday season is shaping up to be a strong one for at least one group: retail employees, who have been taking advantage of a strong economy to do some serious job-hopping.

According to a survey by Korn Ferry Hay Group of top retailers, 38 percent of respondents said they’ve seen an increase in employee turnover since the beginning of 2016. The survey also found that of all retail positions, hourly store employees have the highest turnover rate, with a 65 percent rate in 2016. That’s an increase from 57 percent in 2015.

The survey included responses from HR and compensation professionals at 66 retail organizations, representing more than $75 billion in annual revenue.

When considering retail distribution centers, the overall turnover rate in 2016 was 23 percent, compared to 21 percent in 2015. Retail corporate positions saw the lowest turnover rates in the industry, but the percentage was higher in 2016 (18 percent) than 2015 (15 percent).

“We haven’t seen retail turnover rates this high since before the great recession,” said Craig Rowley, Korn Ferry Hay Group senior partner, Retail and Consumer. “Decreasing unemployment rates make competition greater, and as retail sales rise, retailers are hiring more people and increasing starting salary rates to lure employees away from their competitors.”

Of the positions that had the highest turnover, respondents cited “better opportunities/promotions” as the No. 1 reason for departures, followed by more money and a desire for a move/geographic change.

When asked what retailers will be looking to do to curb turnover moving forward, “career pathing” and “training” were cited as the top focus areas, followed by “better communications on the employee value proposition” and “compensation packages.”

“Today’s retail industry is full of opportunity for people who are willing to work hard and who enjoy working with customers,” said Rowley. “To retain top employees, employers need to lay out a clear career path, as well as offer training to stay ahead of today’s omnichannel options, such helping fulfill customer orders online. It’s critical that employees feel nurtured and that they feel part of the organization instead of just having a job.”