Last night, instead of scrolling endlessly through the same old Netflix offerings, I happened upon a Freakonomics podcast (NPR) episode-interview with Al Roth, a professor of economics at Stanford and 2012 Nobel Prize winner for his work on the “theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design.” The conversation focused on two of Roth’s projects: the creation of an efficient market solution for matching medical school grads with hospital residencies and his lifesaving work creating an algorithm for pairing kidney donors with recipients.
Titled “Make Me a Match,” the conversation got me thinking about recent comments I heard from two award-winning casual furniture retailers interviewed for this Furniture World edition. Each bemoaned their recent experiences with unqualified applicants, many with subpar work ethics, who sometimes don’t even show up for scheduled appointments.
It’s not news to any of you that perhaps the biggest challenge our industry faces is finding and hiring good people. The labor market is out of whack, due to a series of unfortunate events. We could certainly use a better “matchmaking” Al Roth-type solution.
What can rational managers do to address this mess aside from patiently waiting for the labor markets to adjust or engaging a Nobel laureate to design an algorithmic miracle to help us make more efficient and satisfying matches?
One recommendation is to start by doing more with less. Specifically, aggressively invest in smart automation in every retail department to avoid wasted time and unnecessary employee effort. The result will be greater efficiency and reduced staffing needs. David McMahon has written extensively about this in recent Furniture World issues (including this one).
Check out the recent interview with USSI’s Billy Lindler (March/April edition), who spoke about making warehouses and warehouse employees more efficient and less error-prone to achieve the same ends.
And finally, revisit past Furniture World interviews with Bill O’Malley, who has advised on better recruiting, hiring and re-recruiting practices that help HR departments do more with less. Find their past articles on the www.furnifo.com website, check out this issue and stay tuned for more solutions in the pages of Furniture World going forward.
Wishing You Good Retailing!