Editor's note: Welcome to Resource Actions, our occasional, back-and-forth column covering everything from the bizarre to the day-to-day that, despite everything, impacts HR departments. Please feel free to send all tips, thoughts and pumpkin pie hot takes to [email protected] and [email protected].
Ryan Golden: We've only just exited Halloween season, but folks at HR Dive’s parent company, Industry Dive, are already gossiping about gobblers. We’re nearing turkey hour — in addition to the office pie bake off — and there’s no stopping it.
Kathryn Moody: It's going to be beautiful — partly because our office closes for both Thanksgiving and Black Friday not long after said pie contest. For some industries, it's uncommon for workplaces to close for one of those days, much less both.
But will this year be the year of change? In this talent market — and changing retail atmosphere — it's more likely than you think.
Ryan Golden: This topic resurfaces annually in HR discourse, and the message is usually something along the lines of, "Think about the families!"
Now, I'm not going to suggest this sentiment isn't important; most U.S. consumers appear to disagree strongly with the concept of Thanksgiving shifts. But consider a few data points: 97% of employers in Bloomberg BNA's 2017 Year-End Holiday Practices Survey said they provide paid time off for Thanksgiving Day, and 78% said they extend that to Black Friday as well.
Only 33% of employers in Bloomberg BNA's survey required work on Thanksgiving Day. Among employers in that contingent, 17% were in the "service/maintenance" sector, while 16% were in "security/public safety." From there, the numbers drop off.
Kathryn Moody: This year, more than 60 major retailers are opting to close on Thanksgiving, including Costco, H&M, Home Depot, Ikea, Marshalls, Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, Patagonia, PetSmart, REI, Sam's Club, Staples and TJ Maxx, among others, partly due to the push to e-commerce that's marred some of the veneer of the Black Friday deal. Many stores also noted the importance of giving employees time off with their families — if they could afford to do so, that is.
As it happens, many of the big retailers are facing an existential fight with Amazon and so the biggest names — Walmart, Target and Macy’s — will remain open. Macy’s announced in October that it would be opening its stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, for example. So are we in for a total backward swing on the sneaky Thanksgiving open times? Maybe not entirely.
More retailers are cognizant of the benefits required to keep workers happy in this market (3.7% unemployment, anyone?). And because Thanksgiving is just the beginning of one of the toughest seasons in retail, smart employers will be making sure their employees are ready for the long haul.
Ryan Golden: That's an important trend to understand: Retail, like many industries these days, is banking on better benefits to bring in applicants. In most cases, that’s taken the form of higher pay, but others, like Walmart, are pushing developmental benefits like subsidized college degrees.
It's a further recognition that money isn't the be-all and end-all of what today's applicant wants out of a job. Workers want to know what their next employer will do to invest in their career. Will they learn new skills? Will they have relevant training opportunities that will help them stay relevant in a changing society?
In this way, an employer's benefits package looks much like a Thanksgiving dinner table. The quantity of offerings may be vast, but it's the taste, the ingredients — the quality — that matter most to those sitting down to eat. How are your workers feeling when they sit down at your table?