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Why Williams-Sonoma CEO calls the labor shortage a ‘big migration’

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Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss the labor market and how Williams-Sonoma is attracting 'great talent' to the company.

Video transcript

ANDY SERWER: Let me ask you about labor shortages. Because that's the other outcome, more tangible perhaps, even from the pandemic, that has been vexing employers, getting employees. And I wanted to ask you about that. Is that something that you're facing trying to hire people?

LAURA ALBER: You know, I think we've made a lot of good decisions. When the pandemic struck, we did not furlough our store people or any of our people. And there was many people whose job was always in person. And it was quite concerning, you know, what we were going to do.

And I couldn't promise forever, but we promised two weeks. And then we got in a Zoom call and we promised two more weeks and two more weeks. And we kept paying everybody.

And the respect we showed them converted to innovation and passion back to us in terms of their ability to shift into work that they could do from home. So for example, our store people started doing design chat at home, virtual design services. And we had people in the office who helped at our care center.

And that kind of innovation, you can't-- I mean, you can't-- that is a big part of the success in keeping our teams together. And of course, you know, you always have people leave and we're, you know, we're a talent factory. So a lot of our great people have gone off to run other companies and do great things.

I always see that sort of as a compliment that we've done our job in getting them ready for a bigger job. But at the same time, we were talking yesterday, we feel like, yes, in some cases, there's the big resignation. But for us, it may be the big migration. Because we're getting great talent right now, Andy.

We're really seeing a lot of people who want to come work for us and across a wide array of disciplines. And we're thrilled to have them. And so we yesterday celebrated all of our new hires. And we have a great internship program.

We have, I think, some of the best interns in the world work for us this year and we're excited about them. So there's a lot of things we do to keep this talent pipeline full. And I'm actually really proud of our teams across the company for what they're doing to keep everybody together, connected, and inspired.

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