Lifting & Shifting Today’s Retail Talent

Deena Perro
April 2, 2020

The retail sector is no stranger to disruption, but this newest interruption is unlike any that we have seen in recorded history. U.S. jobless claims swelled to a seasonally adjusted record of 3.28 million by March 21st, according to the Department of Labor. While thousands of employees are being laid off from one retailer there is another retailer looking for thousands more to keep pace with the extreme demand that COVID-19 has caused. This is the “new normal” for retailers and the question is, how can we use technology to optimize talent in these uncertain times? 


As you embark on this journey, we want to share some best practices and available solutions to help you navigate this chaotic environment:


Leverage Your Existing Talent

It’s no secret that retailers are going to have to find creative and effective ways to better leverage their existing talent to respond to the current demand and thereafter as we enter a more stable consumer environment. For example, if your distribution centers need support, can store associates step in to ease the demand?    







Your next thought is likely: “How will I know who has the propensity to be successful in a distribution role?” If your store associates all have the same level of experience, the next step is to identify the social, emotional, and behavioral attributes unique to each job role that will make them uniquely qualified to move from store associate to distribution. Think of it as the DNA that makes each role unique and why your best employees continue to stay and be productive in these roles. Having this insight would allow quick and objective decisions for managers to take action on. 


It is possible to do this by canvassing your entire workforce for their unique emotional, behavioral, and social attributes. With pymetrics, gathering these workforce insights involves your employees playing 20 minutes of fun and engaging online exercises to help you determine what makes each of your specialties or departments unique and identify where overlap exists. This will give you a high-level perspective on what departments may be able to share talent with in-demand roles, so you can thoughtfully leverage your existing talent. 



This heat map demonstrates how, for example, individuals in a Warehouse Associate role may be well suited to work in Customer Service, and Shipping Receiving Clerks have potential to work in Inventory Control.



It is worth mentioning that maintaining an objective approach, especially when times get tough, should remain a top priority. If you don’t rely on technology that de-biases the talent decision-making process you can put your organization at extreme risk. The pressure to hire qualified talent and realign employees within hours can have long term, lasting effects if not done correctly.  By relying on outdated or biased approaches to talent matching, companies can miss out on the best talent for any given role, lose competitive edge, and limit their ability to increase cognitive and demographic diversity, which can ultimately have drastic impacts on business performance. 



Lift and Shift Talent to In-Demand Roles

So, you’ve improved your current situation by better leveraging your existing talent, but you’re likely thinking, we still need more personal shoppers or e-commerce support or distribution center support employees.  Now what?


When you’re handling a high volume of recruiting, especially during a crisis, you need to be able to make the most out of your recruiters’ and hiring managers’ time. Removing barriers at this point of your hiring process will allow your company to be flexible and respond quickly to staffing needs and make hiring decisions quickly.    



Digital interviewing is a one-way online interviewing solution that can help streamline your hiring process. You invite candidates to conduct their interviews on their own time and on their own terms. From a candidate perspective, the experience is as follows: They apply to your retail position(s) and receive an email prompt to record responses to interview questions. They’re taken to a landing page with your branding and given an introductory video--this could be about your company or the job itself. Then, they’re presented with question prompts to which they record responses and submit. Easy & quick!


From a recruiter or hiring manager perspective, the benefits are two-fold. First, the interview questions are standard and given to every single candidate, asked in the exact same manner. This helps protect you from a legal perspective. Second, your staff no longer have to bear the burden of trying to schedule interviews--they can review and respond to clients on their own time! This process allows you to be much more agile in your hiring and significantly reduce the time it takes to hire candidates as you eliminate the hassle of trying to coordinate schedules. One final, and very important point, interviewing can be completed at the candidates’ convenience, which bolsters completion rates and overall candidate satisfaction.  


In order to help our partners in retail during this chaotic and challenging time, pymetrics is offering both our Internal Mobility and Digital Interviewing solutions completely free. If you’re interested and would like a trusted partner to help you with your talent acquisition and talent management needs, contact us to learn more!