The matches are based on retailers’ and job seekers’ responses to a set of questions developed by Compono, an HR software company.
This helps remove unconscious bias from the hiring process, since Shortlyster’s technology screens and ranks candidates based on their abilities, rather than factors such as gender, age, or cultural background.
“Unconscious bias is an issue in all industries, but it’s magnified in the retail community because of the number of roles we have to fill and the recruitment being done at the most junior level in most cases,” Paul Zahra, CEO of the ARA, told Inside Retail.
By screening and ranking candidates and providing a short list of the best matches to hiring managers, the ARA Talent Registry also helps reduce the time it takes to fill roles, which is one of retailers’ biggest complaints about the recruitment process, according to Zahra.
“When it comes to hiring, our members tell us their greatest challenges are the long time it takes to recruit and how to identify the best person for the role without bias,” he said.
Time and cost savings
According to Rudy Crous, co-founder of Shortlyster, retail businesses can save up to 70 per cent of their upfront hiring time by using the ARA Talent Registry.
“Many businesses are receiving hundreds of applications per job which means managers do not have the time to review, screen and short-list candidates effectively and without bias,” he said.
“Also, retail managers know how vitally important it is to employ someone who has the right work behaviours and personality, to fit the company’s culture so it supports their customer experience.
“These problems are taken care of with the ARA Talent Registry and we anticipate that a retail business can save up to 70 per cent of their upfront hiring time.”
Since the platform also takes into account whether candidates align with company culture, retailers are more likely to see higher retention rates, which leads to cost savings over time.
“Often people leave their job in that first year, particularly at the frontline level, because whilst they might be a good match on skills, qualifications or attitude, they’re not a good cultural fit, and that’s what the ARA Talent Registry does in a very unbiased way,” Zahra said.
These time and cost savings are especially important now in the wake of Covid-19, as retailers continue to deal with significant change, from the increase in remote working, to the rise of online shopping, to disruptions in the supply chain.
“We wanted to make sure that we were giving best practice tools, and this does,” Zahra said. “It particularly gives small and medium-sized businesses a real way of accessing the retail community quite quickly and cost efficiently.”
The ARA Talent Registry is available to all employers and job seekers, though ARA Members are provided a discounted rate when using the platform.
Tight job market ahead
Thanks to federal stimulus measures, the retail job market has largely recovered from the early days of the pandemic when thousands of workers were stood down, and some were let go, amidst extreme economic uncertainty.
Zahra is now anticipating a hiring frenzy in some corners of the retail industry, where there is actually a skills shortage due to border closures.
“If you’re in hospitality, you rely heavily on international students to fill those jobs in cafes and restaurants, and they’re just not here,” he said.
“I think we’re going to see a war for talent, and I think there’s going to be a tight job market. That means people will be job hopping because they’ll be able to get better pay potentially in another job.”
The ARA is lobbying the Australian Government to include childcare subsidies in the Federal Budget, due to be announced next Tuesday, to help get more women back into the workforce. Women represent 57.4 per cent of all retail workers, and 61.5 per cent of sales staff, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
“We really have to focus on getting those women that are not working back to work,” Zahra said.
Two areas of the retail industry where jobs have not yet recovered are travel retail and CBD stores in Melbourne, where office occupancy rates remain low.
“Although it’s marginally improving, traffic is still low, and that’s problematic for city retailers,” Zahra said.
“If you’re working for a national chain, you’ve probably been redeployed to a suburban location that’s doing well, but if you’re working for a small business, you’ve probably been laid off. It’s an uneven recovery.”
The ARA Talent Registry reflects the ARA’s focus on diversity, equality and inclusion, which is one of three major platforms that Zahra has implemented since stepping up as CEO in 2020.
The others are sustainability, with the ARA recently hiring Jason Robertson as its new director for sustainability and impact, and Indigenous employment. An initiative in that space is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The ARA continues to offer training as a registered training organisation and industrial relations support.
“We are working harder to become a one-stop-shop,” Zahra said.