Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director of Communications and External Affairs
Gen Z – young people born between 1997 and 2012 – are the most racially and ethnically diverse of any generation. They are the first generation that has entirely grown up with the Internet.
There are 67 million of them, and they are the future of your business.
How can independent grocers engage and retain Gen Z? The National Grocers Association hosted a recent webinar in which the team from iFoster – a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that every child growing up outside of their biological home has the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults – explored how employers can appeal to Gen Z’s need for community, their social consciousness and their concerns for their future, and how to leverage their entrepreneurial spirit and desire to learn, question, improve and try things a new way.
Speakers included Serita Cox, co-founder and CEO of iFoster, and Summer Rogers, the organization’s West Coast director.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
There’s a fundamental mindset shift in the job market. Accelerated by the pandemic, attitudes are shifting from the “live to work” of Boomers and Gen X’ers to “work to live” of Gen Z’s. Younger workers want scheduling flexibility because work isn’t necessarily their top priority. They’re job hoppers who possess fewer soft skills and expect “show, don’t tell” guidance, presenting barriers to being managed by traditional supervisors. It’s not all about money for Gen Z’s – they want employers with authentic brand stories and a social conscience.
The ”great churn” makes attracting and retailing workers crucial. In February 2022, there were 11.3 million job openings nationwide, with only 56 workers for every 100 openings. That month alone, 4.4 million workers quit their jobs across all sectors and job levels, and 5.4 million chose to retire over the past two years.
Employers have to be flexible. As employees juggling life priorities, they’re demanding flexible scheduling and the option for working remotely. Options could include week-by-week scheduling and overlapping shifts. Allow for employee input as part of the process.
Meet workers where they are. Gen Z’s tend to have less soft-skill development and often pose many questions to their employers. Try offering basic skills training and job shadowing, along with quick reference guides (like a phone app). Engage workers in routine performance discussions that include improvement plans.
Get down in the trenches. Younger employees respect supervisors who demonstrate they can do more than lead from behind a desk. Be visible, and “show, don’t tell” – supervisors should periodically work alongside their teams.
Click here to view a recording of this webinar