Growing the 21st Century Retail Workforce

As the nation’s largest private sector employer, retail supports more than 52 million American jobs throughout our diverse ecosystem. From first starts, second chances, and life-long careers, retail provides flexibility, upward mobility, and the power to choose one’s path more than any other industry.  

Leading retailers are building a 21st century retail workforce that is diverse, innovative, and skilled. To build this powerful workforce, leading retailers are committed to recruiting and retaining talent with innovative approaches to staffing, scheduling, benefits, and culture.   

RILA advocates for forward-thinking workplace policies at both the state and federal level that reflect the preferences and policies we know retail employees prioritize. It is imperative that as the demands of the workforce change, so must retailers, as well as public policy.

Coalition for Workforce Innovation

The Coalition for Workforce Innovation is advocating for change. Bringing together diverse stakeholders to educate policymakers on the benefits of independent work and supports policy proposals that protect and empower individuals to choose nontraditional work arrangements.

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Promoting Flexibility

The modern economy has experienced the emergence of technology that has empowered millions of Americans to work independently, allowing individuals to choose when, where, and how they work. Disrupters like Uber, Roadie and Upwork are taking advantage of this evolution by providing news ways of working outside of traditional models. As a result, the expectations of retail workers are changing and the opportunities available to retailers to provide more services to consumers and flexibility to workers are evolving. Research shows that flexible scheduling is the hallmark of why millions of Americans choose to work in retail. From students to seniors, and everyone in between, those seeking part-time employment enjoy the flexibility that retail provides.  

Additionally, retail consumers are expecting more out of retail brands — whether it’s executing last mile delivery, fulfillment, or serving customers in stores, retailers are exploring new approaches to talent. However, workplace and labor laws in the U.S. are woefully outdated, restricting innovative working relationships and hampering economic opportunities for workers. Today’s retail talent is seeking autonomy that is more accessible in the gig economy. Therefore, a modern public policy approach is needed that will benefit workers and consumers, allowing retailers to better compete for talent and sales. 

Unfortunately, federal departments and agencies are proposing rulemakings that endanger modern workplace initiatives that provide opportunities for all Americans to find meaningful and rewarding work. These regulatory efforts will curtail worker privacy, limit important workplace information and reduce flexibility which will enshrine outdated policies restricting employer-employee relationships and hampering economic opportunities for workers.

The status quo is changing, and so must our approach to moving the needle on these issues. Through thought leadership and community and legislator engagement, RILA will ensure policymakers at all levels not only understand but promote policies that welcome positive changes that are empowering individuals throughout the workforce.

Fully Stocked: Alternative Workforce Models for Retail Report

Fully Stocked: Alternative Workforce Models for Retail Report provides tangible thought leadership around the evolving talent marketplace and examines how retailers can successfully adapt.

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  • Investing in People
  • Workforce

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