The News Bee

H&M to hire thousands through recruiting campaign

H&M to hire thousands through recruiting campaign

Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M launched its first-ever national recruiting campaign Thursday boasting its benefits, pay and sustainability efforts as competition for retail workers has pushed companies to create more attractive workplace environments. H&M is looking to hire thousands of employees to support its rapid expansion in the U.S., which is its second-largest market behind Germany, and saw sales jump 22% in 2014. It has plans to open at least 61 new stores this year after opening 62 in the past year, including what will become the world’s largest H&M when a 63,000 square-foot flagship opens in New York’s Herald Square next week.75715147

The campaign is part of a growing shift toward the perception of retail jobs as sustainable long-term careers and shows a willingness among retail companies to be more vocal about their company culture, says Bill Thorne, senior vice president at the National Retail Federation, a trade organization. The campaign includes displays in all 363 U.S. stores, video testimonials from current employees, plus billboards and advertising in malls and elsewhere in Houston and Philadelphia, two growing markets for the company. The ads feature statements related to what’s possible at the company, like, “Five weeks vacation is possible,” and “Making sustainability fashionable is possible.”

H&M is heavily promoting the opportunity for long-term careers, not just temporary hourly wage jobs.The company says 35% of its executive team started out as sales advisers, what they call store associates. The campaign is primarily focused on recruiting sales advisers, with the potential for growth later on. It will also target Millennials in particular with a college campus tour that kicks off in September.

H&M’s effort comes as retail workers have made significant progress toward higher wages in a tightening labor market. Walmart announced in February, after years of pressure from workers and advocacy groups, that it would gradually raise its starting wage to $10 an hour. T.J. Maxx followed with a similar declaration, while Target quietly started giving employees raises. Gap had made the same promise to get to $10 an hour in February 2014.

Since service-sector jobs were some of the first to come back after the recession, employees have gained bargaining power as they’ve grown in demand, says Beth Ann Bovino, Standard & Poor’s U.S. chief economist. The rate of employees quitting their jobs is also at a six-year high, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, pointing to increased confidence among workers, Bovino says.