Highlights from NRF: Retail Talent, front and center

January 17, 2022

Remember the “great resignation of 2021?” It hasn’t gone away. NRF 2022 Day 2 was filled with conversations about how to engage and retain top talent.

“We’re all fighting for the same talent. It’s hard. It’s vicious out there,” said David Behen, CIO of La-Z-Boy.

“This is about developing the talent that we need to develop our future growth,” said John Patterson VP, Talent at Macy’s, Inc.

“The frontline workforce is looking for three things right now: purposeful work, pay, and pathways,” said Rachel Carlson, Co-Founder, and CEO at Guild Education. “Most of retail, most of the workforce at large has done the first two. Now, what are education programs and ingredients that companies need in order to provide pathways?”

That’s why Guild Education is partnering with Macy’s Inc to develop learning programs and upskilling opportunities for their workforce. “Start anywhere, go anywhere with Macy’s,” echoes Patterson.

“The employees are in more control than ever,” Corie Barry, Chief Executive Officer

Best Buy Inc. weighed in via Zoom. “What are the benefits, what does the development look like, how do I get employees to stay sticky to a brand? Of course, customer experiences are crucial. And you can only do it if you have an engaged workforce and take a balanced approach in our vibrant communities.”

“I think Covid, in the beginning, was chaotic for all of us,” says grocery leader, Vivek Sankaran, Chief Executive Officer, Albertsons Companies Inc. “It’s so incredibly unpredictable. You have to be nimble and fast. But because it is so predictable, we have to lean on where the customer is going, what they’re looking for. And to that, we have to have a deep sense of empathy for our associates.”

Truly, empathy is top of mind, especially when customers demand more from frontline workers now than ever. “I’m proud of the commitment we made to our associates,” says Marvin Ellison, Chairman, and CEO, Lowe’s Companies Inc. “We paid almost a billion dollars in incremental wages specifically to hourly workers throughout the course of the pandemic. We want to be the best workplace we can be for our associates, delight our customers, and support the community. We made this investment in our associates because we want them to know if they come to work for us, we will do all we can to support them.”

Allbirds is constantly aligning their teams with a huge focus on engagement. “It’s a constant rotation, constant circle,” says Chris.

“I’m a big believer in morale. When you have customer-facing employees, morale is key,” says Jeff Siegel, Allbirds Store Leader NYC, Columbus. “If you want a good salesperson, you need to believe in a product. If you want a great employee, they need to believe in the company.”

Retail employees everywhere are dealing with a lot right now: health and safety mandates, new technology, higher customer expectations, and more. It’s exciting… and exhausting. 

In a time like this, truly engaging your frontline employees can mean the difference between a Great Place to Work certification or a 60% turnover rate. 

At Zipline, we recently released a comprehensive retail HR guide, Re-learning Retail Love, packed full of statistics, trend analysis, case studies, and tactics to combat turnover and differentiate your brand in an increasingly competitive marketplace. With Zipline, you can keep your teams engaged, aligned, and ultimately, happy – and reduce turnover to less than 10%.


Come see us at booth #603! You’re welcome to sit back, relax, and grab some swag! 😎 

See how Zipline can retool your retail 🤝

Missing out on NRF? We’ve got you covered! On Thursday, February 3, Zipline’s hosting a virtual event, NRF FOMO, to bring the stuff you really miss about NRF – the cool swag, the industry’s hottest trends, and the networking – straight to you.

Sign up today to get exclusive access to the best of the Big Show. 

Here are a few of the highlights (so far):

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