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Ignore Kim Kardashian. People Do Want to Work!

And here’s how to attract and retain top talent in the pet industry.





THERE’S NO DENYING it — the nature of work has changed with the pandemic. According to CNBC, nearly 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in just one month this year. Business owners are struggling to hire, and layoffs are at near-historic lows. Many have dubbed this time the “Great Resignation,” and even celebrities like Kim Kardashian have remarked, “It seems like nobody wants to work these days.”

But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “You just don’t ‘get’ your employees, Kim.”

That Said, Pet Businesses Do Have an Edge

After 20 years as a marketing professional studying what makes pet businesses tick, stick and grow, I’ve learned that the vast majority of us get into this industry to serve some larger purpose. Profit is the byproduct of this purpose — allowing petpreneurs to live lives that sustain us while making a bigger impact. Last issue I covered how this gives us a secret marketing superpower. This issue we’re going to use that superpower to help with the thing so many are struggling with right now: attracting and retaining top talent.


Understand the Marketplace Mindset

If you’re seeing employees leaving in droves or you’re having a tough time attracting new ones, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Are you reprioritizing everything? The pandemic has reset our expectations of what makes a quality life. While incredibly stressful, people from every generation are seeing how work can look very different from the standard “job” they’d been taught to want. And many are learning that increased time with family, or for passion projects, feels way more fulfilling than getting the biggest paycheck they can.
  2.  Are you stressed? Speak to any mental health professional and they’ll likely tell you that levels of stress and mental illness are at record highs right now. Treatment has been incredibly hard for most individuals to access during the pandemic. It’s gotten so bad that the CDC has resources devoted to helping people cope with stress during the pandemic. While we are re-thinking what makes us feel fulfilled, our reserves and tolerance for more stress are probably pretty low.
  3. Are you tired of everything changing, all the time? Between mask mandates, shut-downs, new strains and more, the feeling of control over anything has been pretty fleeting. Combine this with being essential workers — pets could die or be rehomed if many pet businesses were to close — and the feeling of being adrift without a paddle is pretty large.

If you said yes to even one of the above, you’re in the same boat as most pet business employees right now. But this is where your distinct advantage comes in.

Use It to Bring in the Best Employees

While you likely can’t offer a work-from-home option or the highest pay, consider what you can do:

  1. Bring your community in focus. Pet people are real people, and it’s pretty easy to suss out when someone doesn’t share our insane passion for companion animals. Lean into this in your job postings and social media. Put it out there, and you’ll be much more likely to attract employees who will find that a day with other pet people (or my favorite, old dogs and kittens) feels way more fulfilling than some desk job. Thus, you attract people who are reprioritizing and rethinking what career can mean to them.
  2. Address stress head on. Current and potential employees want to know you’ve got their back and “get it.” Consider adding something to your job listings about your philosophy on mental health in the workplace, or how amazingly calming it is to hang with your adoptable store cats.
  3. Don’t forget cause and career. People called to the pet industry are usually drawn because of our connection to something bigger — and purpose and passion in helping pets and their people thrive. Show your current and potential employees what a career devoted to that cause can look like and that they have the control to pick a future that’s exciting. Show them it’s possible to have a life with their family and feel great about the impact their working hours are having in their community.

While pay, benefits and other things do matter, these three steps will give you that extra lead you need to get and keep those employees customers will rave about.




NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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