Show me the values
Just as personal values tell us about an individual, so too do the values of an organisation. As a retailer, your values paint a picture of what you stand for, support your vision, shape your culture and ultimately, help attract and identify the type of person who will thrive in your organisation.
The beauty of retail in Australia is its diversity and we’re seeing an increasing number of retailers capitalise on their values within the context of their broader employee value proposition, as core to their talent attraction and retention strategies.
Local retailers Aesop, T2 and Typo for example all live and breathe their values and as a result, attract diverse yet like minded talent to their respective organisations. Not coincidentally, these values extend to their approach to customer engagement and most importantly, the overall customer experience.
With growth and salaries both anticipated to remain largely unchanged over the coming year, retailers are turning their attention to aspects of their value proposition other than remuneration, to differentiate themselves in market.
Mind the gap
The challenge for retailers focusing on values as core to their talent strategy comes when there’s a disconnect between what is posted on the staffroom wall, and the reality. More than words, values are only of value, when there is buy-in across every layer of an organisation – from the CEO down – and embedded in company culture. General Pants and The Iconic are two retailers known for taking every opportunity to share how they bring their values to life through their social media channels.
For any organisation though, it’s critical to find the balance between driving talent engagement and managing expectations. Of course you want to put your best foot forward, but equally if the reality of working in your organisation is in stark contrast to the vision you sell, it will result in a less than desirable retention rate; a costly lesson that we see not only in retail, but across every industry.
Savvy to the rhetoric
In recruitment it can feel like we talk about values and cultural fit endlessly, but recruiting for values and culture fit, not just skills, is an important point and one that is gaining critical momentum among retailers. So much so that we are seeing retailer hiring practices change, with interview processes focused on identifying whether or not candidates share an organisation’s values. There is much less interest in chronologically walking through work experience on a CV than there is in truly understanding what a candidate is passionate about; learning what makes them tick.
Candidates too are looking for the right fit and are not shy about asking the tough questions, particularly for senior roles. And where organisations aren’t actively sharing examples of how they bring their values to life, there is no shortage of places to search on and offline to fill the void.
The question to ask, is if you walked out into your workplace today, do you know what your people would say about working in your business? How would they sum up the values and culture? And if you don’t like what you’re hearing, how willing are you to act on what you learn?
Bringing values to life
Company values can and do change over time and in recent times, we’ve seen quite a bit of change amongst retailers making subtle amends to reflect market expectations and significant reworks with a view to remaining relevant. Whatever the change, the key is being able to walk the talk. Consider how you demonstrate work-life integration, your diversity and inclusion strategy, your parental leave policies or how your people and teams are aligned behind your purpose.
When competition is only going to increase, it is those retailers that have invested time and resources into clearly articulating but importantly living their values in the local market, that will find the path to securing top talent to be infinitely less challenging.