A survey for The Grocer shows that, while the number of staff leaving each year is still high, retention is improving among the major chains. Last year staff turnover stood at 26.1% but this year the figure has fallen to 22.4%.
Stores with the Safeway fascia had the lowest staff turnover, at 17.7% - a turnaround from the last year when there was some uncertainty following Morrisons’ acquisition of the company.
This year those responsible for recruiting at these stores said it had become easier. “There’s a higher rate of pay and flexibility of hours. Also the presentation and hygiene of Morrisons stores is higher,” said a recruitment employee at one store.
Storecheck Marketing, which carried out the survey, polled store recruiters from 130 of the UK’s top 600 stores by turnover.
“A retail job seems to be much more desirable than last year and there is an indication from the Safeway stores that they are finding life easier with the Morrisons’ package,” said Storecheck MD Colin Harper.
Sainsbury was the only chain which had a rise in staff turnover this year, up from 28% to nearly one third.
Traditionally service sector jobs, so-called McJobs, have been seen as unskilled, paying low wages and with little opportunity. But food retailers have invested heavily in their recruitment and retention programmes and in getting the message across that working in a supermarket is a good career choice. Our survey showed recruitment costs had doubled.
Asda’s Best Welcome scheme has helped improve retention up to three months by 70% while a Tesco spokeswoman said the company had worked hard to ensure people could get on. “We have industry leading pay and benefits and there is a real sense of a ladder of opportunity at Tesco," she said.
Peter McLaren-Kennedy, head of communications for the retail sector skills council Skillsmart, said the results were good news for the industry and showed how food retailers had become smarter at recruitment.
But he added: “We would like to see a continuation in the trend and greater effort to retain people, particularly those who start out on their career with a part-time job.”