Millennials and Retail - The Workforce Challenge

Millennial Employees
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Baby Boomers are retiring and Millennials are pouring in. Last year, we saw the Millennials surpass the Gen X workforce population. This means Millennials are the new workforce. You might think that with all that youthful energy in the workforce that great things will happen.​ However, according to a study completed by Grovo, 60% of all millennial employees in retail LEAVE within the first 3 years.

This turnover costs retailers thousands of dollars each time. With this group making up such a large percentage of the employees now, retailers have to adjust their approach. 

The biggest problem is that the core values of the Millennials are very different than the core values of most companies today. True, we read about Zappos and other retailers who are experiencing huge success with the Millennial workforce, but they are the exception, not the rule. Retailers are simply not keeping up with the changes in the workforce. 

According to the Grovo study, there are five core values Millennials look for in an employer. When they find them, they stay. When the company doesn't have them - they leave. 

  1. Development. This group is craving training and equipping. They want to grow and get better. 
  2. Meaning. They want to be involved with work that matters. Hard for a retailer. But not impossible with a solid social conscience. 
  1. Autonomy. This group likes freedom and the trust that you can let them work on their own.
  2. Efficiency. This group embraces the "how else can we do it" and hates the "we've always done it this way" mentality. 
  3. Transparency. This group craves information. They want to know what's going on and they want to work for an employer who is open and honest with them even when the news is bad. 

    Gone are the days when a person enters a job with the plans to be there until retirement. Today's retail workforce is always looking for what's next. In fact, may people in retail are on their way somewhere else. This is not a new reality for retail, but on age old problem. However, with the propensity of Millennials to be so mobile, it is a huge problem for retailers in disruption in service and customer experience and in loss revenue and productivity. 

    Millennials are tech driven. Try asking them to punch a time clock with a time card and see how they respond. They get frustrated with retail employers who will not embrace technologies like mobile POS or beacons. The ideal CEO to a Millennial does not wear a suit or a flower in the lapel. That's a hard one for retail for sure. They want leaders who are beside them not in front of them. (Hear that store owner - get out of your office!) They tend to be more entrepreneurial in spirit and value leaders who are as well. 

    The biggest thing you can do for this group is to value education the way they do. They want to know more and more. They want to grow - not so they leave you, but so they achieve personal pride. So, resist the fear that you will spend a bunch of money on this group in development only to have them leave you for someone else.

    If you invest in them, they will return on it. The only reason they want to leave is if they stop growing. 

    Communicate with them often. They want to know. It makes them feel valued. It's easy to do because it does not require long forms or intensive documents. Remember, this is a generation that can boil everything down into 144 characters in a Tweet. 

    The bottom line is that Millennials are not disloyal or renegades; they simply move to a place that values them. They look for and desire a place of work that espouses their core values.