Attracting Older Workers to Retail and Hospitality Jobs

According to a global study by Bain & Company, workers aged 55 and older make up over 25% of the workforce in G7 countries by 2031, making older workers one of the most in-demand talent pools for employers today. In the UK, the government launched a “returnership” initiative to inspire those over the age of 50 to come back to work or to seek a career change. This scheme involves three programs that help older workers retrain and learn new skills, providing workers with a clear roadmap back into the workplace and encouraging organizations to hire them. In Western Australia, the Job Reconnect program provides grants to both employers and employees to cover costs related to licences, upskilling, and even work clothing, transport and childcare.

It’s crucial for retail and hospitality employers to know how to entice older workers back to work and to make the most of their valuable talent. Known as the ‘sandwich generation’—defined by caring for their elderly parents and also dependent children or grandchildren—older works have a strong work ethic. Customer facing and front of house roles enable them to fit work around caring for family and other responsibilities.

Keep reading for key insights from our panel discussion and get the latest research to understand exactly what older workers want and what retail and hospitality organizations can do attract this in-demand demographic.

What Do Older Workers Want?

What do over 50s want and need from an employer? Does your organization know how to attract and engage this older workforce and how to hire and retain them?


Unsurprisingly, monetary concerns are coaxing older workers back into the workplace due to the cost-of-living crisis. However, when it comes to choosing an employer, flexibility takes precedence over money.

Hospitality roles typically attract a younger demographic of workers. However, the flexibility offered by these jobs also appeals to the older working generation. Given that the over 50s are the largest age group with caring roles, flexible and part-time work is a powerful motivator for them to fit a job into their routine.  

As well as permanent roles, seasonal and flexible roles are available within the hospitality and retail industries, which can be more attractive to the older working community. Working harder in those seasonal months creates work-life balance, allowing older workers to take time off during quieter periods to recover and be with their friends and family.

Sense of Belonging

Workers in this age rage are still searching for rewarding work. Older workers wish to find a place where they can feel a part of their local community and give back. Over 50s enjoy creating social connections that a customer-facing job in a restaurant or supermarket can provide.

Customer-facing roles in hospitality and retail give individuals the chance to serve and connect with their community. For older customers, seeing employees in shops and restaurants that represent them can boost the customer experience. 

Myths About Older Workers

There are plenty of misconceptions out there from employers and colleagues about hiring and working with older workers. Consider these myths busted.

Myth 1: Older Workers are Resistant to Technology

Certain words can be viewed as a turn off for an over 50s audience, including “tech-savvy”, which some see as a way to ward off older candidates. There are older people who will feel excluded because others wrongly perceive that they’re less capable with technology, when in fact they are part of a generation that has seen huge advancements in technology. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is in his late 60s, and Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple is in his early 60s.

Recognise that all colleagues work differently with technology, so you must be thoughtful in your use of training. In hospitality and retail, workers are likely to be using tills and sales computer systems. Regardless of whether a person struggles with technology, an organization should have a strong program in place to support workers as they learn how to use these tools. For example, consider implementing a buddy system of workers and leaders who will happily help new employees in their first few weeks as they learn point-of-sale systems.

Myth 2: Absences are Higher Because of Health Issues

As people get older, their health can decline. However, this doesn’t mean that absenteeism is higher amongst older workers. In fact, older workers are more likely to have higher everyday attendance rates due to their strong work ethic. When you do see sickness or absence, it is typically in the form of long-term leave, rather than the odd day here and there.

Myth 3: Older Workers are Less Productive Than Younger Workers

A study demonstrated that there was no different between younger and older workers in terms of productivity. This study found that with their years of experience and memories, older people perhaps dismiss new information when they process things and instead use past information. It’s therefore important to acknowledge that older workers aren’t doing things worse, they just do these things differently through their years of experience.

What Can Organizations Do to Attract Older Workers?

So, how can retail and hospitality organization tap into this hard-working talent pool? Here are four questions to ask to ensure your talent acquisition program is over-50s friendly.

Are Your Candidate Attraction Materials Inclusive for Everyone?

To attract older workers, you must think more creatively and broadly.  Use community-based websites to engage with people who live close to your locations. Show how the job will fit into their lifestyle and what it would be like for an older person to work there, rather than a generic message. Create testimonials from your current employees to support this.

Make sure that your imagery is diverse, featuring people of all ages. Look at your marketing materials and ensure that it reflects the community so that over 50s can see that jobs in hospitality are here for them. Take advantage of local community-boards in community centers and supermarkets.

How is Your Candidate Experience?

Retention and attraction are very different. Employers can encourage people to apply for jobs through their advertisements, yet ultimately, it is down to the experience the candidate has during the recruitment process, induction and beyond. The candidate experience is what will make them accept the position and stay at the company. 

When younger workers leave education, they’re taught how to answer competency-based interview questions and how to write a resume. The older generation of workers likely won’t have a resume and may not have experience with this kind of interview. Is your interview process age inclusive and relevant to them?

Are You Giving Them What They Want?

Now that we’ve shared what older workers want, is your organization serious about flexible shift patterns? Over 40% of the part-time workforce is aged over 50. Not only does this part-time schedule work in hospitality, but also in retail, in which the holiday season creates a huge demand for workers.

Different shift patterns in retail can support individuals in their family commitments and lifestyle. Look at your employees’ caring responsibilities, for partners, for children, for elderly parents, and take this into account when creating your shift offerings.

But what else does this generation want from you? Everyone responds well to positive feedback. Both the retail and hospitality industries are great at celebrating successes, shown through brilliant behavior and examples across organizations.

Finally, show that your organization values them by offering benefit packages. Health is a priority for everyone as we get older, and health benefits can help to attract them to your organization.

Does Your Anti-Bias Training Include Age?

Ageism usually gets the least amount of focus across the DE&I plan. Train your leaders and hiring managers on unconscious bias particularly as it relates to age. Ensure there are no biases lurking in the recruitment process to open up talent pools instead of closing them down.



Labor Market Trends Impacting Customer Service Hiring 

In today’s tumultuous labor market, where some industries are slowing down, customer service hiring is still challenging across financial services, utilities, hospitality and retail. Organizations in these sectors often find themselves competing on customer experience, which is being impacted by the lack of staff.  

A consumer survey from PwC shows that the four most important factors for an exceptional customer experience are speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly service. The key to excelling in these factors is happy, engaged employees. Organizations with highly engaged workforces are 21% more productive, outperform competitors by 147% and have customer loyalty rates 233% higher than companies without engaged employees. 

How can companies achieve this kind of success when they are struggling to fill their customer-facing vacancies? Talent acquisition leaders are getting creative to recruit and retain customer service and call center talent. Here are three trends in how companies are adjusting their approach to hiring and engaging a customer-focused workforce.  

Trend 1: Hiring for Potential 

As customer expectations have changed, so have the skills needed for top customer service talent. We recently conducted a poll in which talent leaders indicated that soft skills related to emotional intelligence are highly sought after. 

The most desired skills for customer service recruiting are communication, empathy and relationship building.

We’ve worked with several of our clients to implement a culture-centric approach for attracting talent. Instead of assessing candidates based on previous work experience, we advise evaluating based on whether they possess the right skills, values and behaviors to be successful in the role. We’re reimagining interviews and assessments to be more focused on soft skills and purpose as we help talent leaders and hiring managers embrace candidates coming from outside of their industry.  

Trend 2: Expanding Talent Pools  

With job openings outnumbering job seekers, organizations across sectors find themselves getting creative as they try to expand their talent pool. For some, this means looking into new talent audiences, like underrepresented group or military veterans, and putting programs in place such as apprenticeships to future-proof their talent pipeline.  

For many companies, the growth of remote work means that they’re looking outside of their physical call center locations to candidates across the country and even expanding to new countries. This requires an adjustment to your talent acquisition strategy to ensure your employer brand and recruitment processes are ready to handle dispersed talent.  

Trend 3: Adapting to Remote Work 

Remote work is impacting more than just where talent comes from, it also affects how organizations onboard and engage their staff. As some countries are experiencing a cost-of-living crisis, customer service representatives are fielding queries from vulnerable customers which can be especially draining. Talent leaders are getting creative in how they connect with staff to ensure a sense of belonging and wellness—regardless of where the employee is working.  

Some contact centers have even adjusted their operational structure to work in “pods” which ensures agents—both in the office and remote—get the support they need to solve customer queries efficiently. Before, managers and team leads could walk around the call center floor and see when agents looked stressed. Remote working has made it harder to monitor employee wellbeing. Customer-focused leaders are investing in employee wellbeing, from training managers to catch the signs of burnout to offering wellbeing support programs.  

These are just a few of the labor market trends that are impacting how companies hire and engage talent. Clearly, organizations are finding creative and bold ways to invest in their employees to maintain a resilient and customer-focused workforce.  


Seasonal Hiring: How RPO can Help You Better Source and Hire Seasonal Workers 

Hiring seasonal workers is essential for employers in need of extra talent during the holiday season. If your organization depends on seasonal hiring to augment your workforce, it is vital to efficiently source, recruit, and onboard your seasonal hires to ensure you are staffed during the holidays.

Without a well-designed seasonal hiring program in place, employers risk going understaffed for the holidays, or for other times of the year when a business reaches a peak. In this article, we will walk through how an RPO provider can help you hire talent for the holidays and equip you with tips on building a seasonal hiring pipeline.

What is a Seasonal Worker?

hiring seasonal workers

A seasonal worker or employee is a worker who works for a short period to meet seasonal peaks in demand for an employer. This might coincide with weather seasons or with holiday seasons.

Employers that use seasonal hires typically need assistance at the same time each year, for example as lifeguards or lawn care workers in the summer or ski instructors or snowplow drivers in the winter. When hiring seasonal workers, you can hire them on a part-time or full-time basis depending on your needs.


9 Strategies for Solving High-Volume Hiring Challenges

What are the Benefits of Hiring Seasonal Workers?

If your organization experiences seasonal peaks in demand, hiring seasonal workers can be a good solution for staffing issues. Here are some of the benefits:

Extra Hands When You Need Them: When a business reaches its peak season, seasonal workers provide you that extra help fast when you need it, without the expense and time of hiring full-time staff.

Assist Full-Time Staff: Your seasonal employees can help alleviate the load carried by your full-time employees. This can improve morale for your permanent workforce because they have the support they need during peak times.

Low Risk: When you hire a permanent employee, you don’t always know if they’ll be a good fit for the job. Seasonal employees are only hired for a short period. If they aren’t a good fit, you have only made a minimal investment.

Potential full-time employee: On the other hand, if you hire a seasonal employee who works out well, you might be able to offer them a permanent position when one becomes available. It’s a trial run that works as a recruiting method for permanent positions.

Better Seasonal Hiring Begins with Crafting Better Job Descriptions

seasonal hiring

Writing job descriptions for seasonal positions is different from temporary, full- and part-time roles. It is important that your job descriptions accurately reflect the nature of your open positions, so candidates know ahead of time if they should apply.

For example, many seasonal roles are in a warehouse and logistics setting and may require candidates to work in a more physically demanding environment. Major retailers and logistics companies are in serious need of seasonal logistics workers with Walmart looking to fill 20,000 logistics roles while UPS, Kohl’s and Target are in need of 100,000 seasonal warehouse hires each.

To better understand the nature of the seasonal jobs for which you are writing job descriptions consider spending time shadowing workers in the relevant seasonal positions. What’s more, COVID-19 has made many employers became more familiar with video interviewing, however, the idea of leveraging videos to enhance your employment marketing and employer branding is sometimes overlooked.  

Job descriptions can be bolstered with video. A seasonal job posting could include a short video of a hiring manager describing the job and what they are looking for in a seasonal hire. Your video can even include examples of workers performing the most common tasks required to give candidates an accurate idea of the work involved.

How RPO Can Help

RPO providers can help employers conceive of and create a talent attraction strategy that considers both the needs of employers and seasonal hires through a data-driven approach to talent advisory and recruitment marketing making you a seasonal employer of choice.

Sourcing Seasonal Hires

Recruiting seasonal employees begins with mining a verdant source of seasonal workers. Employers should look for candidates such as students and other demographic looking for short-term employment opportunities. For example, recruiting recent graduates who are taking time to figure out what they want to do long-term is one way of sourcing seasonal talent. Often, these candidates prefer the temporary nature of seasonal work compared to a longer-term commitment.

Moreover, hiring candidates with a seasonal work mindset can help you keep them around for the full season or even retain them for next year.

When sourcing seasonal workers, look to hire people who want seasonal work including

  • Retired workers
  • Workers looking for extra work during the holidays
  • Stay-at-home parents who want to work while their kids are in school
  • Students who are on holiday break

How RPO Can Help

Many RPO providers have talent pools and networks they can tap into to source the right candidates for seasonal positions. RPOs also have experience building talent pipelines from the ground up and can assist employers in creating a sustainable seasonal hiring program that delivers year-in-year-out.

RPO partners also offer technology expertise to help you track, measure and optimize your seasonal hiring campaign by showing which channels and recruitment marketing messages are yielding the best candidates. They can help you with recruitment analytics so you can see your recruitment funnel at all your sites in a centralize dashboard.

Managing High-Volume While Hiring Seasonal Workers

seasonal hires

Many employers in need of seasonal hires require a large volume of talent to keep up with peak demand. High-volume hiring at its heart is a problem of scale which requires optimizing your time and recruiting spend. Recruitment automation can help you reduce the manual workload on your recruiting team and hiring managers while keeping your visibility on all of the candidates progressing through different stages of the interview process. Automating certain steps, such as screening and triggering assessments, allows recruiters to focus their time on higher-value, strategic work.

How RPO Can Help

An HR outsourcing solution such as RPO provides employers the ability to scale up seamlessly as seasonal hiring demands shift. With an internal talent acquisition team, it may be difficult to scale up hiring quickly enough to handle a higher number of hires and then scale back down when hiring volumes shrink.  What’s more, recruitment technology platforms such as PeopleScout’s Affinix can help you automate your recruitment program and create great high-volume hiring efficiency.

Never Neglect Your End of-Season Plans

How you end a relationship with seasonal hires can help with next season’s hiring. Here are a few things to keep in mind at the end of the season:

  • Availability: Ask outgoing seasonal employees if they would be interested in returning next season. Some workers design their needs and lifestyle around managing seasonal and temporary jobs, and they may be looking for another opportunity next year.
  • Exit interviews: To learn from successes and drawbacks, hold exit interviews with seasonal employees, regardless of how long they worked with you. Having informative feedback can help streamline next year’s efforts.
  • Permanent talent: Tempting as it may be, you likely won’t have the means or the resources to bring every seasonal employee on full-time. However, keep an eye on exceptional workers whose mix of soft skills and talent would be excellent fit as vacancies come open during other parts of the year.

How RPO Can Help

An RPO provider can help organize your offboarding efforts at the end of the season by assisting in exit interviews, managing your seasonal worker database as well as hiring top performers to permanent positions. An RPO provider’s ability to scale down engagements quickly means the process can be seamlessly executed so that you can resume business as usual.

Are You in Need of a Seasonal Hiring Partner?

seasonal worker

When it comes to maintaining your seasonal operations and providing excellent customer service during your peak months, hiring seasonal employees can help keep your business moving.

Whether you are in need of seasonal recruiting or a permanent talent solution, employers in our new world of work face rising recruitment challenges. An outsourced recruitment solution like PeopleScout’s high-volume RPO and Total Workforce Solutions can help you stay connected with talent and provide hiring resources that will add immediate value to your talent programs.

Overcoming Retail and Hospitality Recruiting Challenges

Hospitality staffing teams and retail recruiters are finding it more challenging than ever to recruit and retain employees. While recruitment and retention issues have long beleaguered the retail and hospitality industries, the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing difficulties:

The unemployment rate has finally fallen under 6%, the lowest since March 2020, however retail, leisure, and hospitality were hit hard by this pandemic and are still facing a major challenge in attracting talent to their respective industries.

In this article, we’ll look at the hiring challenges that retailers and hospitality organizations are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and provide talent acquisition strategies to overcome them.

The Retail Recruiting and Hospitality Staffing Landscape

With so many jobs available, why are retail recruiters and hospitality staffing professionals having trouble finding applicants? While there are numerous reasons why employers are finding it harder to fill these vacancies common candidate concerns include:

  • Patrons are not as generous as they once were. According to a Harris Poll conducted for Fast Company, 19% of Americans said they tip less now than before COVID-19. Even amid loosening restrictions, many restaurants still operate on a drive-thru or carry out-only basis – and tipping isn’t as generous or common. With waitstaff making an average of $7.00 per hour, tips are an essential portion of overall compensation. That bleeds through to hotel staff, too, as cleaners, bartenders and servers also rely on tips to supplement their salaries.
  • Loyal long-term employees who were let go may feel let down and underappreciated by their former employers and may be hesitant to reenter the hospitality or retail industry.
  • It’s a candidates’ market, despite unemployment numbers. With lessening restrictions, many businesses are re-opening – and they are all hiring at the same time, creating more competition for the same pool of talent.

To tackle these challenges, talent leaders must think outside the box. This means identifying new and non-traditional ways to incentivize potential candidates to apply for open positions. While improving compensation and benefits is a critical component to recruiting in the current talent market, there are additional strategies you can deploy. Below, we cover key retail and hospitality recruiting challenges and how your organization can overcome them.

Hospitality and Retail Recruiting Challenges and Solutions

Challenge: Hospitality and Retail Recruitment is Highly Decentralized

Large retailers and hospitality chains often have a decentralized recruiting process where managers are solely responsible for making recruitment decisions within their store or geographic location.

Decentralized recruitment processes vary from organization to organization. However, a common theme of this talent acquisition strategy is that it allows for greater autonomy and decision-making freedom for frontline managers. What’s more, a decentralized recruitment strategy is effective for geographically diverse organizations where each location may have specific, localized hiring requirements, labor laws and talent demographics.

Unfortunately, decentralization can lead to obstacles during turbulent labor markets. A lack of consistency, discipline and standardization across various locations can lead to a disorganized hiring process with varying policies, pay grades and a lack of coordination across geographies. This decentralization can make it difficult for talent leaders to ensure hiring practices are unbiased and ethical for every location within their organization.

Moreover, decentralization can run counter to an organization’s wider goals such as increasing compensation, diversity and inclusion initiatives and ensuring that new pandemic-related policies are being closely adhered to.

The Solution: Consider Centralizing Talent Acquisition

Centralized recruitment is a popular strategy among many employers outside of the retail and hospitality industries.

Operating within a more centralized recruitment infrastructure allows internal recruiting teams to develop reliable policies and universal standards for the hiring process across locations.

When hiring processes are standardized across an organization, all employees are hired using the same criteria, making it easier to share team members across locations if there is another store with employees capable of doing the same job.

What’s more, some organizations take a hybrid approach by having both centralized and decentralized recruiting functions, with some decisions and hiring policies deployed across the organization while others are implemented locally.

Whichever recruitment model you decide to pursue, a recruitment process outsourcing provider (RPO) can help retail recruiters and hospitality organizations centralize or hybridize their recruitment function. RPO providers work closely with internal talent teams to build out talent acquisition infrastructure and best practices enterprise-wide. RPO providers also lend support in sourcing, interviewing and hiring talent and can deploy advanced talent analytics technology for deeper insights into workforce trends.   

Challenge: Hospitality and Retail Recruitment is Often Conducted Face-to-Face

Traditionally, most candidates apply for retail and hospitality roles in person. However, as the pandemic persists, some would-be applicants may be hesitant to apply or interview face-to-face.

Solution: Take Hospitality and Retail Recruiting Interviews Virtual

Incorporating video interviewing into your talent acquisition toolbox can save your team hours of candidate sourcing and phone screens.

Virtual interviewing technology allows employers to have live, two-way video or a pre-recorded video interviews that candidates can do on their own time and from the safety of their home at their convenience. Video interviewing technology can be used to support a wide range of recruiting functions from candidate screening to offers and onboarding.

What’s more, the practice of virtually hiring and onboarding has been on the rise in retail and hospitality staffing in recent years as talent technology advances. Gap, for the first time, is allowing hires to apply online for any role in three minutes or less. Macy’s filled positions during a virtual hiring event and provided a convenient virtual process that allows candidates to interview from wherever.

Virtual interviewing, when paired with technologies such as text recruiting tools, offer enormous opportunities to improve recruiter efficiency, time to hire and build stronger relationships with candidates.

Challenges: Sourcing Hospitality and Retail Candidates with the Right Skills and Experience

According to a recent McKinsey Global Survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the question of how to address the skills gap more urgent. Nearly 90% of executives surveyed said current skills gaps are expected to increase in their workforce within the next few years, but less than half have a plan to address the issue.

To find the right employees, you should strongly consider expanding your definition of what qualifies as relevant experience. For example, if you have an applicant with no experience in retail, no experience operating a point-of-sale system and no experience managing other employees, you might be quick to write them off as an under-qualified candidate. However, you may be missing out on an ideal potential employee with the right soft skills to excel in the role, skills in short supply in retail and hospitality.

In fact, according to an SHRM report, talent and HR professionals in accommodation, food services and retail/wholesale were more likely than those in other industries to say that candidates did not have the right workplace soft skills such as problem-solving, interpersonal skills, communication, teamwork and leadership.

The Solution: Expand Your Talent Pool with Non-Traditional Candidates

A candidate who might not have the “right skills” at first glance could potentially become a top performer with a little on-the-job training and instruction. Instead of focusing so much on hard retail or hospitality skills and experience, keep your eyes open for candidates with transferable experience and skills such as customer-facing roles, managing finances, organizational skills 2 0789uiand other skill sets that may translate well. A Harvard Business Review article exploring the challenges employers face in “hiring low-skill, entry-level workers when economic conditions improve” highlighted how forward-thinking retail and hospitality organizations are boosting talent and business outcomes by adopting a recruiting model known as open hiring.

Open hiring looks for reasons to hire a candidate, rather than finding ways to exclude them. Major retail employers, including Ben & Jerry’s, Whole Foods and The Body Shop, have had success through open hiring strategies, including improvements in turnover, increases in productivity and a more resilient business continuity plan.

Here are a few questions you can ask candidates to better measure soft skills:

  • Has this person shown an ability to learn new skills quickly?
  • Does this person exhibit a positive attitude and the ability to work on a team?
  • Has this person displayed an aptitude for solving problems efficiently?

Hospitality Staffing and Retail Recruiting Is Crucial for Recovery

In retail and hospitality, every unfilled position represents missed opportunities to better serve your customers. While recruiting for retail and hospitality staffing at the moment might seem like a daunting task, implementing the right strategies and technology might just be the key to providing hiring managers and candidates alike with the tools to better navigate the industry’s new normal.