Christmas Chaos | What benefits can HR use to solve the talent crisis in time for December?

Supermarket bosses have warned that the supply chain chaos is getting worse, just as retailers start planning for the key Christmas period.

Richard Walker, Iceland chief, told the BBC he estimated the UK's shortage of lorry drivers was now about 100,000, with the company itself about 100 short.

Tesco boss John Allan added that "there may be some shortages", but that people should not "over-dramatise" by panic buying, as was seen in the earliest days of the pandemic.

"It's very easy to make a drama out of a modest crisis," he told the BBC, adding that the continuing shortage of HGV drivers is starting to make retailers nervous, mainly because, despite it only being August, outlets are already in the heat of planning for their busiest trade period of the year – Christmas.

Iceland’s Walker went on to tell the BBC: "The driver shortage is impacting the food supply chain on a daily basis and leading to shortages on the shelves.

"We've had deliveries cancelled for the first time since the pandemic began, about 30 to 40 deliveries a day."

He went on to say that HGV drivers should be added to the Government’s list of skilled workers, which would make it easier for firms to recruit more drivers from overseas.

"These men and women, these HGV drivers, have kept the show on the road for 18 months during the pandemic and it's criminal that we're not viewing them as skilled workers," Walker told the BBC.

With concerned retail bosses now reaching a crucial time in the run up to the Christmas trading period, many have realised two things: the Brexit red tape will not be cleaned up in time to allow more EU drivers back to the UK to work; and job vacancies alone are not enough to haul in new recruits.

Instead, many businesses have started stumping up lucrative packages to turn the heads of prospective talent.

So, what benefits can HR offer to end the talent crisis and help save Christmas?

Tesco

In late July, Tesco began offering a £1,000 starting bonus to lorry drivers joining the company before September 30, 2021.

The company’s big incentives for new drivers saw the retail giant join competitors such as Morrisons in the race to sign up new drivers, with the latter recently launching a scheme to train staff to become lorry drivers, as reported by the BBC.

Aldi

But it isn’t just Tesco offering up eye-catching signing-on bonuses in the hopes of softening the blow.

Supermarket chain Aldi has also moved to increase the pay of its drivers in an attempt to plug labour shortages and ensure that supermarket shelves continue to be stocked – City A.M. reported earlier this month.

Hawksmoor

And it’s not just the supply chains that are at threat of being under-resourced this Christmas. Many of us will be looking forward to a celebratory meal or night out with family or work colleagues, ahead of the end-of-year wind down.

However, the hospitality sector has also been hit hard by the talent crisis, owing to the pandemic in addition to many non-British staff returning home post-Brexit.

One brand that hopes to successfully attract new talent is Hawksmoor. Earlier this year, HR Grapevine reported on the news that the British steakhouse chain was launching a referral scheme, offering bonuses of up to £2,000 to workers who recommend friends for jobs within the organisation.

In an effort to “turbo-charge” its hiring efforts, each person recommended and who is hired after passing a one-month trial will receive a bonus.

This is said to be £200 for a first friend, £300 for a second and up to £2,000 for five friends.

Staff still need time off despite labour shortages

Despite the risk of empty shelves during the upcoming festivities, some retailers have still gone out of their way to give staff some well-deserved time off as a token of appreciation for their efforts over the past 18 months.

In fact, Morrisons is already looking ahead to the festive season with its latest work perk for employees.

Last week, the firm said that as a reward to staff for working hard in the pandemic, all of its 110,000 workers would be able to take Boxing Day off – a move which could well attract talent to the business.

A report by the BBC explained that the chain, the fourth-largest in the UK, would close almost 500 shops on the typically-busy festive buying day as a ‘thank you’ for their hard work in keeping essential services running during the pandemic.

A Spokesperson from Morrisons told the BBC: "Everyone at Morrisons has worked incredibly hard over the last 18 months as we've responded to the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, serving our customers and local communities".

"So, this year we're taking the exceptional step of closing all our supermarkets on Boxing Day, so as many colleagues as possible can enjoy a two-day weekend break with family and friends.”

Morrisons is just the latest retail chain to allow staff to take Boxing Day off work, following similar news announced by The Entertainer last year.

As such, there are many benefits that employers and HR have deployed to attract talent to sectors that have been struggling to recruit, whether this is a joining on bonus, or a referral scheme.

And it is possible that some of these benefits could help HR tackle the talent crisis with a view to saving Christmas.

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