Why us


Focus on the Frontline

The competition to be an employer of choice spans every sector. In grocery, retailers are facing competition for talent from outside the industry as well as within. The transferable customer service skills of front-line staff are in demand across contact centre, care and hospitality settings, putting experienced staff at a premium.

In response to this competition and the impact of rising inflation on front-line staff, Lidl announced its third pay rise in 12 months, reportedly allocating £37m to raise wages for its hourly employees by up to 17%. From March, Sainsbury's is investing £200m in a 9.15% raise for front-line staff, joining Aldi’s move to pay the Real Living Wage nationally. The Grocery Gazette provides a handy comparison table of front-line wages across the major supermarkets.

The fight goes beyond salary, with Lidl the only discounter to offer a staff discount scheme, a benefit it values at roughly £600 per year, while Aldi offers paid breaks valued at £900 per year.

However, the picture across the retail sector is variable. The John Lewis Partnership is adopting a more restrained approach, signalling smaller pay increases for staff by shifting to a system of performance-linked pay rises. According to the Guardian, the business is planning significant cuts to the workforce over the next five years, with 11,000 out of 76,000 jobs set to go. This follows two years of losses and some tough moves, including scrapping staff bonuses and closing 16 department stores. The business blames the performance on high inflation, which has increased energy, freight and wage costs at a time when consumers are tightening their belts.

Meanwhile, a trial to reduce hours at the Morrisons Head Office has ended, with staff returning to regular office hours. The trial reduced weekly hours from 40 to 37.5 and condensed hours to 4.5 days in a move towards a 4-day week. However, the trade-off for staff was a new expectation of weekend work, with a minimum of 13 Saturdays per year in place of weekday hours. According to The Grocer, the trial ended due to complaints from staff who did not view this favourably.

With competition for staff intensifying within grocery, employee expectations are rising, but there is more to being an employer of choice than monetary compensation. Finding a balance between flexibility and reliability of hours can help employees work alongside caring responsibility or study commitments,  whilst recommitting to a clear purpose and set of values can help employees find meaning in work. Part of this process is breaking down the barriers between the head office and the front line, showing that the work on the shop floor is valued and that there are career pathways that help employees who wish to move between the two.

Employers may also find opportunities to increase attraction by reviewing the benefits offered. Asking staff for feedback on what is well-received and examining the data on what is actually used can help to reshape the offer to appeal to the workforce whilst minimising cost.

For more on how to shape an attractive Employee Value Proposition, download our complimentary guide to EVP.

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