By Chris Noble, Director at StoreForce.
A LinkedIn survey looking at how millennials are changing jobs and sectors showed that, once again, the retail industry was one of the losers. Asked why they were changing careers, millennials cited a lack of opportunities for career advancement, closely followed by dissatisfaction with compensation and benefits.
With millennials moving out of retail, employers will therefore be turning to GenZ to fill the gaps. Here, Chris Noble, Director at StoreForce, outlines how the retail sector can adapt to the changing needs of a new generation of store associates and ensure that they consider retail as a career-path, rather than a stop-gap.
The certainty of job security
Having grown up in a recession, in many ways, GenZ are rejecting the work needs of millennials, so if retail is going to be successful in changing its image, it is important to understand what motivates GenZ and how workforce management can help retailers to meet these needs.
When looking to hire GenZ employees, it is important for retailers to understand that they are rejecting uncertainty and the supposed freedom offered by the gig economy or Zero Hours contracts, and instead are looking for job security and a regular wage.
In recent years, retail has no longer been seen as a career but as a way to make money before moving into a more secure role. To appeal to GenZ workers, retailers need to address this perception and fall into line with other industries by offering structured career progression, clear KPIs and performance management to help workers develop, not just at head office, but for those on the shop floor too.
Mentoring – a leg up the career ladder
Retailers should use GenZ's desire to advance quickly and offer mentoring to ensure the adoption of workforce management and sales performance tools to contribute to business success.
GenZ want frequent feedback rather than waiting for an annual review, so by adopting tools that identify success and areas for improvement in real-time, mentors can help GenZ staff to feel valued, and provide the coaching they need to improve, perform and – ultimately – progress. Many retailers are now re-thinking their compensation and commission approaches given the individual employee performance data that's available.
Independence to learn
However, while they want mentors to help quickly progress their careers, this emerging workforce is also keen to be self-sufficient. They want to be able to learn by themselves, so it is important that they have the tools at their fingertips to identify and develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses.
Competition and recognition
This also plays into another trait – GenZ's need for competition. Where millennials like to work collaboratively as a team and share success, this new cohort wants to be judged on their own merits and showcase their individual talents.
Setting targets and using technology that shows how they are performing - and can improve - in real-time will be key for job satisfaction. This is already the norm in Canada & the US, where staff embrace using workforce management tools because it allows them to demonstrate how they are performing and driving ROI for their employer, thus making the case for promotion and progression – as such, listing retail performance platforms has become the norm on retail staff LinkedIn profiles and CVs.
The technology to control their careers
GenZ is the first generation to have truly grown up with technology and expect to be able to use it to enhance their job prospects and develop their careers. GenZ spend over 10 hours a day on digital devices and want to be in control and independence digital platforms provide.
Retailers can benefit from this, by giving employees the technology they want to enhance their working life. From integrating digital devices onto the shop floor to enhance customer service, and linking online sales and returns to give a single view of store and individual sales performance, to giving staff the opportunity to swap shifts easily and connect with colleagues via one intuitive platform technology will be a key driver in making retail careers appealing to GenZ.
Oxford Economics estimates that the average cost of recruitment across all industries, including direct and hidden costs, is £30,000 – so, as well as focusing on finding the right employee, it is important for retailers to work on becoming the right employer. By focusing on the needs of GenZ staff, retailers can reposition retail as a valued career, and give them the workforce management tools they need to thrive – to the long-term benefit of both the employee, the business and the wider retail sector at large.