Over 11 million jobs are open in the United States today, and only 5 million people are unemployed.

That’s according to a pair of experts at Korn Ferry, who recently joined Women in Retail Leadership Circle and our sister brand, Women Leading Travel & Hospitality, to discuss attracting and retaining talent in the new world of work.

The Virtual Workshop, led by Korn Ferry senior client partners Denise Kramp and Craig Rowley, is available on-demand for the next 90 days.

The Problem in the Search for Talent

Korn Ferry recently analyzed senior vice president and above positions and found that more than 42 percent of people on LinkedIn in those positions changed their company within the last two years. And over 60 percent of those people changed jobs within the last year.

The need for talent is further exacerbated as companies work to diversify their talent pools, Kramp said.

Furthermore, when retailers announce a full return to the office, they’re met with a retention issue. Kramp said location and relocation is a barrier to change, and Korn Ferry has found people don’t want to commute more than 30 minutes.

“We need to think about this differently,” Kramp said. “We cannot just think of people as being an asset to a function; they need to be an asset to a total company.”

How We Became Short on Talent

Retail has been going through a transformation over the last 10 years or longer, Rowley noted, with the primary driver being e-commerce and digitalization. That’s led retail to move from a product-centric culture to a customer-centric culture, with a major push for personalization and connection, focusing on loyal customers. That’s made people work differently.

“The pandemic put all this transformation on steroids,” said Rowley.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 57 percent of retail corporate workers have gone back to the office, according to Rowley, and 80 percent 90 percent of retail organizations are letting people work remotely at least two days or three days a week.

Solving the Talent Pipeline Issue

The word of the moment in the search for talent is “adaptability,” according to Kramp.

Kramp said retailers in particular are guilty of letting people “grow up in silos” — marketers stayed in marketing, merchants took the merchandising track, etc. To solve the talent problem, one solution Kramp suggested is that retailers focus on business issues and figure out how to “cross-pollinate” and create roles for the employee that brings functions together and allows them to grow and gain experience.

The now age-old question of working from home vs. going into the office is another particular sticking point among employers and employees. Kramp said there has to be a reason or purpose employers bring their staff back to the office. An empty office creates a negative impact for employees who are looking for a reason to leave.

For more tips on how to attract and retain talent in the new world of work, watch the Virtual Workshop on-demand. Women in Retail Leadership Circle members get free access, and the cost for nonmembers is $79. Not a member? Apply today!