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What Workers In Retail Want From Their Jobs

In the Seventh Edition of the Beamery Talent Index, we surveyed over 6,000 workers across the US, UK, and Nordics to gauge how they feel about their current roles, employers, and the job market. While many retail workers are generally happy in their jobs, the uncertain economy has led to concerns about layoffs and a significant number of employees considering quitting.

Retail workers fear layoffs... but many are considering resigning

While 61% of retail workers surveyed reported being happy with their jobs, 37% expressed concerns about being laid off or made redundant by their employers. The fear of layoffs has negatively affected their productivity, with 22% of those concerned about losing their jobs becoming more paranoid about meetings they aren’t invited to, and 21% being quieter at work. In addition, 19% said they were less eager to be productive, 25% said their motivation had decreased, and the quality of their work had suffered.

Moreover, 29% of those fearful of losing their jobs said that they were now more likely to look for new jobs.

A significant 51% of retail workers surveyed are considering leaving their current jobs within the next 12 months, with 32% confident that they could secure a new job within three months and another 38% saying they could receive a new position within six months.

So what do they want from their jobs, and what can retail companies do to make them stay?

Higher pay

Of course, one reason why retail employees might be considering leaving their current role is that they are confident they can make more money elsewhere. In fact, 28% of those we surveyed cited higher pay as their reason for considering changing employers within the next 12 months.

However, many retail companies may not have the budget to provide pay increases during this tough economy. Instead, employers can focus on cost-effective solutions to keep talent engaged, such as greater transparency from leadership, offering new learning and development opportunities, improved benefits, talent mobility, and initiatives to make the culture more inclusive.


26% of respondents from the retail industry cited flexible or remote working options as one of the top four most important elements in choosing to apply for a role. Work/life balance was in the top four for over half (53%) of the people in this sector.

But retail workers say that their employers are requiring (or strongly suggesting) that employees spend more time in the office. When asked about return-to-office mandates, 55% of retail workers said they are required to work in the office full time already, and another 27% are required to work in the office on specified days or for a certain number of days per week. This may negatively impact employee motivation, particularly those who have enjoyed remote or hybrid work during the pandemic.

More learning and development opportunities

When asked if they were interested in learning new skills in their current workplace, 55% of retail sector respondents said yes. Of those, 24% are already starting to learn new skills, or are waiting for the training to begin. Offering these opportunities can help engage and retain retail workers who may be considering leaving their current roles.

Internal talent mobility (moving employees within the organization to fill new roles or pursue career development opportunities) is another cost-effective solution that retail companies can focus on to retain and engage their employees, while also providing chances to upskill or reskill.

This can be an effective way to address some of the concerns and desires of retail workers, such as career progression, learning and development, and work/life balance, while also retaining top talent and building a more agile and adaptable workforce.

They want fair treatment & transparency

Although employers recognize the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I), many are still not doing enough. The survey found that 22% of retail workers felt discriminated against by their employer. Of that 22%, 35% felt discriminated against due to their age, 28% due to their race, and 25% due to their gender. Employers need to do a better job of making their employee experiences more equitable.

A good first step in the right direction is to shift talent management strategies to prioritize skills over experience, education, or other characteristics.

Another way to improve transparency and equity is to disclose salary ranges for each role. The survey found that 30% of retail workers said it was essential to know the pay range for the role they were applying for, and they would not apply without this information. Another 39% said they would be much more likely to apply for the position if they gave this information, while 13% said they would be slightly more likely to apply.

But, while 34% said their company was currently very clear about salary bands for each of their roles within their organization, 30% said that their company did not disclose this information at all. There is clearly work to be done. 


The retail industry is facing a significant challenge when it comes to retaining talent. Many employees are considering leaving their jobs due to fears of layoffs, desire for higher pay, and a lack of flexibility and development opportunities. Employers can take steps to retain their top talent by focusing on cost-effective solutions such as greater transparency from leadership, internal talent mobility, and offering new learning and development opportunities.

Additionally, it's essential for employers to create a more equitable workplace culture by prioritizing skills over experience, education, or other characteristics, and making opportunities open to everyone. Employers should also focus on providing more clarity about salary bands for each role and ensure that employees feel that they are treated fairly.

By implementing these strategies, retail companies can create a more engaged, motivated, and skilled workforce, while also retaining their top talent and building a more agile and adaptable organization.

Read the full Talent Index report here.