Millennial Staff

Set Your Store up for Success: Tips for Working with Millennials
By Christina O’Flaherty

Today’s Millennials have been one of the most talked about generations since Baby Boomers. And it’s easy to see why: they’ve surpassed Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau.

With Millennial employees in full force, how do they relate to your store? Retail and consumer trend experts Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender help retailers understand how recognizing and taking advantage of generational differences can benefit their businesses.

What generations are in the workplace today?
Baby Boomers Thought to be born between 1946-1964.
Generation X Thought to be born between 1965-1979.
Millennials Thought to be born between 1980-1995.
Generation Z Thought to be born between 1996-2010 (some now entering workforce).

fotolia_69041822Is there a difference in how Millennials and Baby Boomers work?
“Boomers were highly marketed to, and people wanted to know what they wanted. They thought they were special but there was also a competitiveness with them. Growing up, if Boomers flunked a class, they flunked. If Millennials flunked a class, they were given a do over.

Millennials have had a voice in decision making since they were kids. What that tells us is that Millennials want to participate. They’re not happy going to work at a place where they’re just told what to do. They want to be part of the decision making. They want to know why you went to this market over another one because they want to actively participate in their careers. And that’s one of the biggest hurdles for retailers to get over.”–Georganne Bender

How can retailers utilize Millennials in their stores?

Appoint a vice president of pop culture.
Staying on the pulse of what’s happening is crucial to success. “Pop culture is really big in our lives, and celebrities have a lot of influence on what we buy and what we do. Millennials, and Generation Z, are going to be closer to that than a Boomer would be. They know what’s trending.”–Georganne Bender

Ask for their opinions and use them.fotolia_62849503
Kizer suggests that you “Ask them what’s a problem, or an issue, or way of styling product, or what should we do on social media.”

From that discussion, you’re collaborating as a team for the answers. “That creates a family that is very solid. And it’s a family that is not just relating to themselves, but to those new customers that are walking through the front door.”–Rich Kizer

Make the environment fun and engaging.
“They should be allowed to look for new ways to present merchandise and be constantly experimenting. They should have a sense of ownership and be encouraged. That’s what they’re all about.”–Rich Kizer

Meet every morning or during shift changes.
Getting Millennials involved from the beginning sets your whole team up for success. “I have a friend that meets with staff every morning for 10 minutes before her store opens. She tells them what’s going on in the store for the day, discusses retail news they might need to know, and has each employee take turns picking out a product that they like, or that’s new, to show and tell and talk about. It makes people so much more engaged and a part of the store.”–Georganne Bender

Train yourself and your staff.
It’s important to not only regularly train employees, but owners should also be open to educating themselves on how they can work better with Millennials. “We need to train the owners to understand that they need to do training. It’s not just about who can be on the floor or who can work tonight.”–Georganne Bender

“There are benefits beyond the sales floor. This generation is the generation that communicates like nobody else. If they like their job, they’re going to communicate that and bring more people like them into the store.”–Rich Kizer

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional speakers, authors and consultants on generational diversity, consumer trends, and everything retail. For more of their expertise, visit their Retail Adventures blog.

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