Earlier this year, Women’s Marketing and job search platform AllWork fielded a study to learn what Millennials look for as they job hunt and presented the findings at the Millennial 20/20 Summit in New York City. With their expertise in staffing at top beauty retailers, and our deep understanding of the beauty industry, we each brought our own unique perspective to the project. You can read the report here, but we wanted to continue the conversation to learn how beauty brands and retailers can attract and retain top talent. Andrea Van Dam, CEO of Women’s Marketing, and AllWork Chairman and CRO Scott Gurfein, discuss how the retail experience will be transformed in the next few years by Millennials and emerging technology.
AVD: What are the challenges retailers face when hiring talent?
SG: Retailers face countless hiring challenges which are becoming more urgent in nature as the retail industry evolves. As it relates to sales and marketing, which AllWork focuses on, challenges range from being able to efficiently source talent for both new positions and those that regularly turn over (approximately 10% at any given time), last minute work cancellations and reliability-related issues, onboarding, HR, to administration and more. Ultimately, these challenges directly impact retailers’ ability to drive sales and manage costs—both of which AllWork optimizes.
AVD: What do Millennials look for in the workplace?
SG: Millennials are as nuanced as any other generation but there are a lot of myths associated with this one. For example, Millennials are not all looking for ping pong tables and happy hours. At this stage in their careers, Millennials are seeking growth opportunities and want to work for a manager who is invested in their development. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves and are not focused only on a paycheck.
AVD: Do you find Millennials are loyal to employers, or do they always have their eyes open for a better opportunity?
SG: Loyalty is a two-way street and not unique to Millennials. The workplace has been steadily changing since the 1980’s. Benefits packages have been reduced, healthy companies are doing layoffs to improve shareholder returns, and independent contractors/freelancers have replaced full-time employment, etc. This is an indication to employees that there is no loyalty and they need to control their own careers. That said, Millennials, like talent in any other generation, value relationships and are likely to stay in their jobs as long as they can get what they need from their work on both a personal and professional level.
AVD: What do employers need to do to retain Millennial talent?
SG: Employers need to ensure that talent is engaged and to understand what motivates them and what doesn’t. You cannot achieve this without a corporate culture of communication and listening. Millennials will represent 75% of the American workforce by 2025 so figuring this out may determine the long-term success of any business.
AVD: Influencer marketing has really taken off over the past year, but I would argue that for retailers, their sales associates are influencers hidden in plain sight. How can retailers and brands work more effectively with their in-store staff to extend their influence and convey their expertise to the consumer?
SG: Agreed! At AllWork, we believe retail talent are the ultimate influencers. They are the face of brands and retailers on the sales floor. They are the closers. They are the last mile between a brand/product and consumer. What would happen if brands placed as much effort and budget to cultivating retail talent as they do “influencers”? What if they were made to feel just as important?
AVD: There’s a lot of buzz about in-store tech, magic mirrors and digital integration, how can sales associates use these technologies to enhance the customer’s experience?
SG: There is a lot of flashy technology finding its way into brick-and-mortar environments. Unfortunately, much of it doesn’t take retail talent into consideration or maximize the power of people to the retail experience in any way. To the contrary, it can minimize connectivity and engagement with the consumer and void any human interaction which is the key differentiator between online and offline. Technology that integrates retail talent with technological efficiencies and information are powerful both from an experiential and customer service point of view.
AVD: How can retailers build relationships with consumers that extend beyond the transaction and how do sales associates fill that role?
SG: Old school retail 101. What happened to personal thank you notes and communication? A mass email that’s “personalized” isn’t quite the same. In addition, it’s essential to create compelling experiences in-store, which requires talent.
AVD: It’s 2020, what does the retail store look like?
SG: Store formats will be smaller and more curated with immersive, inclusive and personalized experiences that integrate both technology and human elements to deliver an experience that is unique to in-store.
Learn more about AllWork's services for brands and retailers by visiting their website, allworknow.com.
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