Every industry is currently struggling with staff shortages and our industry is no exception. 

To help business owners and managers, we share a few useful tips on finding the right candidate and ways to retain them.

One of the hardest-hit industries is reported to be the retail sector.

Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, says the retail industry recorded the highest increase in job vacancies out of any other industry during the pandemic, highlighting the dire situation many businesses are facing.

“Staff absences due to sick leave from COVID and the flu are adding to the current woes of retailers with labour shortages crippling the economy,” he says. “There are over 40,000 job vacancies in retail trade alone – an increase of 38.5 per cent in just three months.”

APAN is reporting that they are also seeing a constant number of practitioners within the industry who have decided to change professions and move away from personal services where they are in very close proximity to their clients. 

It seems that the stigma of potential infections, despite the various Government imposed measures are not convincing them that their profession is safe. So many are choosing to change their professional direction.

Within our industry, we are receiving a high percentage of complaints that finding appropriately qualified staff is highly challenging.

To assist businesses here are a few recommendations:

  • Be very clear on the qualification you are looking for

 Figures that we have received from government agencies suggest that 72% of people who choose to train in beauty exit after Certificate III. 

At this level, staff have not received any training in skin, anatomy and physiology, skin disorders, equipment or infection control.

The predominant focus of Certificate III only covers grooming services such as waxing, tinting, nail services and spray tanning. 

However, as there are no regulations to stop them from working on facial treatments, there is a percentage of individuals who have graduated at this level and have moved to pursue facial treatments. This is because facial services are often in greater demand. 

They often undertake short supplier training, but they lack the appropriate underpinning knowledge and skill.  Be very careful because many businesses have fallen prey to such individuals.

Therefore, when advertising, be very clear on the qualification level that you are seeking and ask to view their credentials.

  • Don’t rely on just training an unqualified person

We are also seeing businesses who are accepting unqualified people that they believe they can train into the job and end up inheriting a nightmare. 

Within our industry, having the right qualifications is very important, as you need your potential staff member to have the appropriate knowledge to responsibly perform the services they are allocated. 

Also remember that in the case of a claim, your insurance company may ask to view their qualifications. If they are unqualified, this may null and void your policy protection.

An exception to this rule is to hire someone you believe will be suited to your business, but only has qualifications in administration or reception skills. 

You can start them as a receptionist and observe them for a few months to assess their suitability.

There are instances when these individuals may wish to move into hands-on clinical work. 

In such a case you could encourage them to gain an appropriate qualification.  You could also investigate the availability in your region for an apprenticeship to traineeship that could allow you to get involved with their training development.

  • Don’t neglect to examine their character and attitude

It’s amazing how far someone can go who has a good attitude, self-discipline, good personal ethics and a good character.

You can train someone to enhance their skills who has a good character, but a qualified person with a bad attitude will always be an impediment.

Look for character traits such as

  • Loyalty
  • Passion for enhancing their knowledge
  • Commitment to excellence and high standards
  • Self-discipline, humility and a willingness to accommodate others in an agreeable manner. 

All these attributes are gold. 

APAN has an Interview Questionnaire that you can access from our list of Resource Documents. 

This document has been prepared by a staff recruitment officer and human resource manager. 

It has a list of 25 human characteristics/attributes that you may be looking for with individual questions that you can ask the candidate to determine if they possess that quality. It’s a good tool to have.

  • The importance of onboarding

Another common area of weakness we sometimes see with business owners is their lack of commitment to the orientation and onboarding process of a recruit. 

This leads to numerous misunderstandings of expectations as they have not provided the new staff member with sufficient training and guidance that will allow them to intergrade into their company’s:

  • Culture,
  • Policies
  • Protocols and procedures
  • The business’s unique methodologies. 

Onboarding is all about how an organisation integrates and prepares a new employee for a new role.  When done correctly, it will directly improve staff retention rates, employee engagement and productivity.

  • Find ways to show appreciation for the staff you have

Staff recruitment professionals also stress the importance of looking after the people that you already have, as finding a new staff member is a lot harder than keeping the ones you’ve got.

Make a point of cheerfully greeting your staff each day, asking them how they are.  Be quick to also praise them when you see them do something well. 

Showing staff appreciation has been identified as one of the best ways to motivate their performance.

  • What about bonuses?

Many experts also agree that it is not necessary to commit to hefty bonuses or financial rewards for staying put. The best incentives are those that provide staff with a full and rounded experience at work.

Benefits that don’t involve cash outlay at the start could include learning opportunities – investing in staff training sends a strong message that they are valued.

Just paying more money doesn’t necessarily mean you will fix the problem.

There’s often somebody that’s willing to pay more and clearly, a lot of small businesses just can’t afford it, so they should be focusing on making the work experience a positive and rewarding one.

  • Avenues for finding staff

Casting a wide net in the search for staff is also a good tactic. 

The starting point is to really think through the type of person that you’re looking for and the level of experience you need and then think about who might know them.

Putting ads on online job boards is clearly an option, but given it’s so tight to find people, employers need to really go through who they know and then work out how to connect with them.

This could include professional networks, such as LinkedIn, or their Association or social media programs. Tapping into their local training colleges and asking for their exceptional star student who is eager to continue to learn and commit to their profession.

They are hard to find, but they do exist.

  • Show personal gratitude and appreciation

Each day your staff take care of your clients, so be patient with them and make sure you don’t take them for granted. 

Experts also agree that there is nothing more motivating than to continue to do your best when you know that your efforts are being noticed and appreciated.

Praise and appreciation are the most powerful motivational factors to drive personal effort and performance.  

These are indeed difficult times, however, as qualification standards are improving through the new advanced diplomas as well as three-degree programs available in Australia, the standard of graduates will hopefully improve.

APAN has introduced a new staff recruitment service that helps the industry with its job shortages. You can find more information here and add any jobs you wish.

If you are seeking a position we can also help connect you with these job advertisements.