The effects of aesthetic labour on recruitment and selection: A case study of high-end retailer.
(2016) The effects of aesthetic labour on recruitment and selection: A case study of high-end retailer., no. 69.
The UK retail industry continues to grow and expand with accounting for 75% of the economy and employing 2.8 million people in 2015 (BBC 2013; Retail Economics 2016). This ever expanding industry has seen the rise of aesthetic labour, which encompasses an individual's inherent qualities and character. This can then be exploited during recruitment and selection (Witz et al. 2003). The popularisation of this term has had an effect on the recruitment and selection of employees due to the aesthetic demands of applicants, including having a smart appearance and being well spoken (Warhurst and Nickson 2007). In reviewing the recent literature, it is evident there has been a lack of research of this phenomena within the high-end retail sector, although this industry exhibits high levels of aesthetic labour. In addition, there is little research considering both aesthetic labour and recruitment and selection in-depth. Thus this research study aims to determine the extent to which aesthetic labour influences the recruitment and selection processes within high-end retail. To fulfil the aims of this research project, empirical research was conducted at a high-end retailer, using a qualitative approach. Through the use of semi-structured interviews, both the managers and employees of the high-end brand were questioned in relation to what is imposed by management aesthetically and what employees have experienced and perceived with regards to aesthetic labour. From this research process, it was evident that the brand demands of the high-end retailer results in a specific brand look and soft qualities. Therefore this is translated into the employer selection criteria which required a certain appearance and soft skills standard. In relation to the recruitment and selection process, aesthetics was demonstrated in the recruitment channels used as well as influencing the selection methods.