The High Street Crisis and Employment

Recent months have seen an excess of closures and restructure plans for a variety of well-known high street names. The list of employers impacted includes the likes of Maplin, Toys R Us, Marks & Spencer, Carpetright and Carphone Warehouse. It’s estimated that the problems in the retail sector may result in more than 22,000 employees at the above companies being forced to look for new employment in the near future.

The UK labour market

The good news for such workers is that they’ll be joining a labour market which is currently crying-out for quality candidates. The UK’s national employment rate currently sits at 75.6%, and the unemployment rate at just 4.2%. These figures1 represent (respectively) the highest and lowest rates since comparable records began in the 1970s. So hopefully those forced into the labour market will be able to utilise their transferrable skills to quickly find suitable new employment.

Getting new employees up to speed

But what of the employer perspective? Employers in other sectors are likely to see this wave of potential new recruits as a welcome respite in the ongoing war for talent. But such organisations would be wise to remember that new employees do still take time to fulfil their full potential – particularly if they’re joining from another industry sector.

Research undertaken by Oxford Economics in 2014 looked at how long it takes a new employee to achieve optimal productivity in their new role. The findings are below:

To reach optimal productivity:

  • 15 weeks for a joiner from the same industry sector
  • 32 weeks for a joiner from another sector
  • 40 weeks for a graduate joiner
  • 52 weeks for a joiner from an economically inactive grouping

So, whilst the availability of new talent from the retail sector is to be welcomed, it’s apparent that the retention of existing staff also remains a key component in the staff management strategy of any successful UK employer.

Employee benefits can of course be utilised to both attract and retain employees, and employers should regularly revisit their benefits offering with this in mind. For more details of our services in this area please make contact with our local experts.



1.ONS Release 12/06/2018