Choosing the Right Hiring Model for Retail and Hospitality Recruitment

Retail & Hospitality leaders shared their top tips and discussed their challenges to help find the right hiring model for retail & hospitality recruitment.

A retail company we work with receives 200,000 job applications per year. 50,000 of these come via head office. The other 150,000 are made directly to stores, many of them in person. How should the recruitment team manage this?

On one hand, this is a feature of the retail and hospitality sector that draws candidates from a local talent pool and we want store managers to be bought-in to the hiring process. On the other hand, we need to be able to create a consistent hiring experience across a geographical network and make sure we’re hiring correctly, fairly and for right-fit.

Striking a balance – centralised or decentralised?

Our London get-together for our retail and hospitality community was brimming with ideas. The focus was on the benefits of centralised, decentralised and matrixed models for recruitment. Here are some of the key learnings from our event.

Centralised: Those who work in a centralised model benefit from consistency of marketing, candidate experience, assessment and governance. However, if managers have little involvement in hiring they can become disengaged and recruitment slips down their priority list.


Decentralised: Those who operate in a networked hiring model shared concerns about governance of the process and a lack of efficiency (as candidates can’t be moved around the system). Those who were doing it well had worked hard at hiring manager relationships to generate two-way communication flow, and for companies operating internationally, a degree of localisation was beneficial.

Whether you’re operating in a centralised or decentralised model, there are some best practices that can help both to work:

1. Adoption of tech needs communication

New recruitment tech, whether it be an ATS or a recruitment automation platform, needs a planned approach to communication. In the retail & hospitality world the challenge is getting the message out to thousands of sites and working with managers who need thorough training. Custom toolkits, had great success for one of our delegates. They provided hiring managers with a tangible ‘toolbox’ that provided the information they needed to perform the hiring manager role effectively.

Another delegate hosted training videos on the ATS to encourage hiring managers log in to the platform, therefore further helping them familiarise themselves with the ATS.

To generate further engagement, recruitment teams have created a sense of excitement around the benefits of new software - marketing new recruitment technology as part of the digital transformation of the business.

2. Upskilling managers helps everyone

In retail and hospitality managers are key stakeholders. Training them at a level that’s appropriate for their experience, and focusing on key actions rather than overloading them, is essential to making recruitment better. Unconscious bias training, interview skills and absence management were all highlighted as key training elements for hiring managers. Our participants are using technology to train and disseminate information on an ongoing basis, while some have invested in a hands-on approach in big stores, other are using video (sometimes hosted on the ATS) and Webex sessions to make training consistent and cost-effective.

3. Being a partner to the business improves results

The recruiters in our group have worked hard to change the perceptions of talent acquisition within their organisations. Being able to provide insight and intelligence to hiring managers, being open and transparent with information, and presenting facts in the face of push-back, enables them to work as true business partners. Influencing stakeholders and talking to their pain points, in their language, is making recruitment much more effective.

An important of this is effective communication – confidently painting a full picture of the employee lifecycle and the importance of onboarding, retention and the cost of staff attrition. At one organisation, the team collected data that showed 30% of new managerial hires left within the first year. Analysis revealed a lack of engagement, as the onboarding process was the same for each manager, not taking into account their previous experiences. This has now been addressed through onboarding and training. The business has not lost a manager this year.

A hybrid, matrixed recruitment model in which technology brings recruiters and hiring managers together answers many recruiters’ concerns from both centralised and decentralised hiring teams.

Find out about our retail & hospitality recruitment roundtables