JAMESTOWN, N.C. — After a dizzying two years of pandemic, supply chain issues and consumer demand that rises and falls like the coastal tide, many employers have been left scrambling to fill open positions, and retailers in every industry are no exception.
However, savvy retailers have realized that the “new normal” comes with a demand for a new company culture, and leadership at one North Carolina furniture company is answering the call with strategies that complement retention goals.
With more than 1.3 million square feet of outdoor, living, dining room and bedroom furniture and more than 1,000 brands on the floor, Furnitureland South is a destination retailer for consumers from all over the globe.
Yet, however ironic, the proximity to High Point — the city often described as “furniture capital of the world”— doesn’t guarantee the company a steady workforce that understands the intricacies of furniture, design and décor, and Furnitureland South CEO and president Jeffrey Harris isn’t leaving his employee roster to chance.
“We create a very positive work environment,” Harris said. “We have an extensive new hire orientation and onboarding process and annual reviews. We assist each individual with setting goals and setting performance expectations, and we share company vision and current projects and priorities.
“We create an environment for personal and professional growth.”
As the debate of work-from-home vs. return-to-office transforms the way many companies conduct business, Furnitureland South is creating strategies to support its employees for whom remote work is not possible. Harris notes that the management team “believes in the emotional power of human interaction” and is developing policies accordingly.
According to the survey, 65% of the retailer respondents did not shift even for the short term to a work-from home format, and only 6% adopted work-from-home format on a temporary basis.
“The pandemic created a unique phenomenon and a platform for remote work, but we’ve witnessed a 180-degree turn around with most associates now desiring the joys of social interaction with both clients and colleagues,” he said. “We remain flexible with some positions that will allow for flex scheduling as well as hybrid work tasks. It is difficult to sell and deliver furniture remotely.”
In addition to promoting brands such as Lexington, Universal, Wesley Hall, Huntington House, Vanguard Furniture and Precedent on the website, Furnitureland South also celebrates employees with a series of videos from the retail operations, marketing, design, materials handlers, operations and floor design teams.
Beginning with a description as a “family-owned business” and concluding with an interview with a 26-year employee, the website serves as an ideal vehicle for the promotion of company values.
The survey showed that more than one-third of the retail staff represented by respondents, 37%, had been with the company for more than 20 years, with another 30% reaching the 10- to 20-year range.
Harris says that the videos underscore Furnitureland South’s commitment to creating a desirable professional environment within its walls, no small task for business leaders in 2022.
“Working at Furnitureland South means that you are surrounded by an incredible group of individuals that are creative, supportive, hard-working, passionate towards this industry, serving our customers and working together to be not only the largest furniture store in America, but also the best one,” Harris said. “As a family-owned business, Furnitureland South has championed a family-oriented atmosphere for its employees since the beginning. In fact, when asked what makes this company special, most employees will tell you it feels like working with and around family every day.”
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