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Target Hiring: Inside the Company's Plan to Hire and Retain Workers

In a tough hiring market, the retail giant has made some big changes.

Automation may be coming, but self-checkout and some automated inventory and cleaning robots have not made the retail worker irrelevant just yet. At the moment, there are more job openings than there are workers to fill them which makes hiring, especially in the service sector, especially challenging.

That has forced major retailers including Target (TGT) - Get Target Corporation Report to focus on making joining the company and continuing to stay there attractive to prospective as well as current employees. Wage are a part of that, but with many rivals adopting a $15 (or higher) entry-level wage, that can't be the only tool a company uses to hire and retain workers.

What Is Target Doing for Workers?

Target has, of course, adopted a $15 minimum wage, but it has also added free college tuition, recognition bonuses ($200 earlier this year to its frontline hourly and full-time workers), and added scheduling flexibility.

"Support for our more than 300,000 frontline team members has come to life in a ton of different ways, from our personalized approach to helping them get the hours and reliable schedules they want, plus added hours flexibility through our On Demand Program, which offers team members the option to work more sporadically, picking up shifts that fit their schedules," the company said in a press release.

Target also added 5 million hours for current workers during the holiday season.

The retail chain has also added a mentoring program designed to help employees work their way up in the company. Ezekiel Kim, a senior operations manager, explained how that works.“I started as an outbound operations manager and had no clue what I wanted to do next — but I had a great senior human resources team that recognized my potential and gave me a sense of direction. They got to know me as a leader and a person as we narrowed down what would be a good fit for my next career move. Once we figured that out, they gave me very concise and clear actions to accomplish in order to get to where I am today. That’s what really excites me to come to work every single day: paying that forward to my current operations manager, and giving them that guidance that I received. I see the untapped potential they may not see themselves, and hopefully I can pay it forward as they develop into their future roles.

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Target has also focused on promoting from within and offering its workers stable schedules so they can attend school or deal with other areas of their lives.

Hiring and Replacing Workers Is Expensive

Companies generally don't increase wages and benefits out of benevolence. Instead, they do so because it benefits their bottom line in the long run.

It can cost almost $4,000 per hire to find, onboard, and train a new worker, according to Deloitte data reported by Glassdoor. Essentially, hiring a worker and bringing them up to speed costs money and that money is lost if the person leaves quickly.

"If you invest weeks of time and effort into onboarding only to see an employee quit six months later, you’ve essentially wasted all of those resources. If this happens multiple times per year, the financial impact can be devastating," according to Glassdoor.

Target has chosen to take some of the money it would spend on turnover and invest it into its workforce. Retaining workers and moving them up the ranks builds institutional knowledge. A manager who started on the floor knows where things are and can solve ground-level problems more easily than one plucked off the street.

Yes, Target, may see the benevolent value in treating people well, but doing so will also help it hire and retain workers in a very competitive marketplace. That should be a benefit that compounds over time if the company continues to be successful in retaining workers over the long haul.