Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Employee Shopping at the Mall

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Employee Shopping at the Mall

Article excerpt

In a move that reflects the retail industry's extreme difficulty finding workers, Simon DeBartolo Group, the United States' largest shopping-mall developer, has created a highly unusual alliance with Olsten Corp., the temporary-employment firm, to create employment centers in Simon malls.

Under the terms, Olsten will run Simon's customer-service centers, for a fee, through which it will provide retail stores with a centralized employment agency. Olsten will also provide training programs for new employees, with the goal of higher retention.

So instead of applicants running from the pretzel stand to the record store to Macy's, to apply for jobs, they will go just to Olsten, which will in turn match them, after interviews and screening, with one or more stores. Retailers will pay fees ranging from about 15 percent to 30 percent of an employee's annual pay. An added boon for Olsten, which is based in Melville, N.Y.: It will use mall traffic to recruit potential workers for the other industries it serves, such as health care and technology. The program will be tested in six malls immediately, and eventually used in Simon's 150 malls nationally. While a tight labor market has caused most employers in the United States to lower standards and raise incentives to get help, the retail industry is feeling particularly desperate because job turnover is about 75 percent annually. "The No. 1 item on every retailer's list is employment," said Karen Corsaro, co-president of Simon Brand Ventures, the Simon unit involved in the venture. "And being the largest landlord to every retail company in the nation, it is incumbent upon us to help find a solution." Simon is based in Indianapolis. Consider James Medinah. He had spent his entire adult life folding sweaters, selling wine glasses and managing sales staff in retail stores. …

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