Jane Beresford, group director of people partnering at Pets at Home, revealed that the retailer “currently [has] over 1,000 vacancies across the group” at yesterday’s Retail Trust Leader’s Summit.
Speaking as part of a panel discussing the importance of flexible working in the retail workforce, Beresford directly addressed some of the difficulties being faced by retailers who are looking to recruit and retain staff.
“We were extremely fortunate to be able to continue to trade during the pandemic – we are doing really well at the moment but are still finding it difficult to recruit the staff numbers that we need,” she revealed.
“We currently have over 1,000 vacancies right across the group – that’s in retail, distribution and head office, so that demonstrates the challenge that we still face.”
The Pets at Home business has performed well over the past 18 months – as revealed in Retail Gazette’s exclusive Big Interview here – with a number of new concepts being introduced, such as in-store grooming service The Groom Room.
“We have been fortunate to be able to accelerate and grow additional services over the pandemic – there are plenty of concepts that would probably have been implemented anyway but have been fast-tracked due to the nature of the last 18 months!”
READ MORE: Big Interview: Louise Stonier, Pets at Home
READ MORE: Pets at Home CEO quits after 11 years
Despite their successes, Pets at Home found that the post-pandemic period saw employees starting to readdress their work-life balance and priorities.
“Our staff turnover dropped dramatically during the pandemic,” Beresford revealed. “It was 32 per cent before the pandemic and dropped to 18 per cent during it – but is now starting to crawl back up again and is sitting at around 25 per cent.
“We know people are looking at their work-life balance and it’s become more important to them over the last year and a half.
“We have seen flexible working requests rise by 50 per cent across the business – and that’s the case across all demographics, including the more traditionally male-heavy workforces such as warehousing.”
By taking a proactive approach and addressing the issue head on, Pets at Home is hoping to attract and retain employees by listening to what they want and offering flexibility, job satisfaction and stability.
“There are lots of things to bear in mind,” Helen continued, “but one of our strengths is realising that not one size fits all and listening to what people need.
“We try to look hard for a reason to support any flexible working request rather than say no to it.”
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Their southern distribution centre went from great place to work to nasty gang master operation as soon as they went PLC. It became more about the investors than the people doing actual, physical work. This seems to be happening in lots of other companies too, and now firms are so desperate they’ll even take part timers on, which makes a mockery of the whole forced overtime thing that drove staff away in the first place. Get it through your thick, greedy skulls: people only work to feed their families & pay their bills. They’re NOT slaves.
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