97% of retail leaders plan to increase their employees’ base salary in 2022 in line with the rising cost of living and inflation, according to market research by the leading global software provider for the retail and hospitality sectors, Fourth.
The new research also shows retail employees are feeling the rising cost of living, with almost two-thirds (62%) saying they would make use of being able to access their wages as they earn them rather than waiting for payday (also known as earned wage access), if the option was available to them. Those working in sporting goods (90%), clothing (81%), and white goods (75%) are the keenest to access the wages they’ve earned ahead of payday.
Currently, one in 10 retail businesses (11%) offer a platform where employees can see their wages in real-time, with only 15% of workers given earned wage access via those platforms. As a fairly new financial management tool, 20% of retail workers say they would like more financial literacy guidance if they were to use earned wage access features.
Worryingly, the data also shows that only 44% of retail leaders believe they always pay staff correctly, whilst only 77% say they always pay staff on time, indicating an urgent need for enhanced payroll systems that support employees’ financial wellbeing.
The research comes as part of Fourth’s latest whitepaper, Cost of living: Supporting your retail workforce as the crisis deepens , which explores how employee sentiment is changing due to the cost of living crisis and what that means for retailers. As well as the main challenges for retail businesses in 2022 and what retail leaders can do to support, engage, and ultimately retain their people.
When it comes to work-associated costs creating worry and stress for retail employees, the cost of commuting is the top stress-inducing expense (32%). This is closely followed by concerns about their management communicating poorly about shift patterns and holiday allowance (25%), and that those unreliable shift patterns mean they don’t have a consistent salary each month (25%).
To alleviate these additional concerns, retail businesses can support their employees by using workforce management technologies that allow retail workers to flag availabilities in advance via a HR/scheduling portal. Almost seven in 10 retail employees (68%) would find this option helpful in managing their shifts. This peaks at 90% for those working for sporting goods brands. Similarly, this reaches more than eight in 10 for those working in Greater London (84%), but it falls to around half for those in the South West (54%).
Responding to this latest data, Sebastien Sepierre, Managing Director – EMEA, Fourth, said, “New challenges are emerging in the retail industry, with the rising cost of living shifting priorities for consumers and retailers alike. It’s encouraging to see retail businesses increasing salaries, however, more can be done to better support and communicate with workforces, and ensure employees are paid on time and correctly.
“Retail leaders need something that will not only improve payroll accuracy and employee engagement, but also offer innovative features such as earned wage access – this is where workforce management technology can be particularly impactful. Staff retention is an essential piece of the puzzle for retailers’ stability in an otherwise unprecedented challenging time, so it’s vital retailers utilise a workforce management platform’s capabilities in helping to analyse and implement changes where needed.”