UK retailers embrace the National Living Wage

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UK retail businesses are coming up with innovative ways to adapt to the National Living Wage that could benefit both the business and the employee.

According to a new report launched by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), shops have avoided increasing prices and changing staff terms and conditions and instead sought other approaches to keep the overall pay bill the same.

The new report outlines the findings from a series of projects supported through the UK Futures Programme which tested how retail and hospitality businesses can help address some of their problems, such as ‘talent loss’ (not being able to retain staff) and knock-on problems of poor customer service and high recruitment costs, by supporting pay and career progression for low paid staff.

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The projects looked to make career pathways clearer to staff; provide support for apprentices to help them overcome barriers to work; change how work was carried out to allow staff to develop a wider range of skills and be more flexible in the workplace; and provide toolkits and guidance for other employers to consider how they can change what they do to improve their business.

They showed that businesses can find other ways to cover the costs of the introduction of the National Living Wage by changing the way they run their business, making low paid jobs more interesting to staff and more valuable to the firm, and measuring the difference to customer satisfaction, footfall, turnover and other signals of business performance.

Words by Sarah Clarke.

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