COMP NEWS – A survey of 50 major US retailers has revealed a startling statistic: nearly 94% of US retailers have been experiencing difficulties filling available positions.

The news may not be a complete surprise to those who have followed news from the country’s recent labor squeeze, but the sheer breadth shown in the results of this survey paints a stark picture.

Executive search firm Korn Ferry found in a survey of more than 50 major US retailers in late April that 94% said they were having difficulty filling vacant roles. Twenty-nine percent said they had implemented a sign-on bonus to help in hiring, while 32% said they had a referral program.

“Historically, stores have not had to do sign-on bonuses,” said Craig Rowley, senior client partner at Korn Ferry specializing in retail. “In the past, there were always enough people applying for jobs.”

To find workers, many retailers are turning towards unique sign-on bonuses and referral bonuses.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is giving $1,000 sign-on bonuses to staff 200 open jobs at its distribution centers. Sheetz is offering $500 bonuses for store workers and $1,000 for shift supervisors to fill 50 jobs. Tops Markets, a supermarket chain in the Northeast, is handing out $2,000 bonuses to hire around 100 workers in its distribution center.

Clint Woodman, the president of Woodman’s Markets, an employee-owned supermarket chain with 18 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois, said the company needs to hire 600 workers to give a breather to its current employees, many of whom are working overtime.
The company last week began offering up to $1,500 bonuses for new full-time workers and $500 employee referral bonuses. “We’re certainly hoping that it has a big effect so we can provide the service that our customers are used to,” he said.

Other companies have exchanged bonus incentives for wage increases and found astounding success, such as the case of this Pennsylvania ice cream shop.

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