As many retailers are already aware, Generation Z (Gen Z) is not only a population with purchasing power as consumers, but also quickly emerging as tech-savvy employees. Gen Z habits are accelerating the future of retail, including in-store work processes.
According to a recent survey of more than 1,000 Gen Zers nationwide between the ages of 18 and 22, it's time for companies to evolve their management practices to fit the needs of this generation. The same survey indicated that antiquated processes in task management and reporting are not the answer to motivate and empower this emerging retail workforce. It’s important in this digital age for retailers to prioritize technology, especially when it comes to everyday tasks. Gen Zers are proven digital natives, and companies that take the extra step to provide them with the right tools can help improve business operations and efficiency overall.
Engaging the Gen Z Employee
Gen Zers are the newest employee group demonstrating a stronghold for entry-level jobs in the retail industry. According to the survey, 44 percent of respondents already have experience working in retail or grocery. Understanding that nearly half of Gen Zers have retail experience, it becomes increasingly important that retailers consider their work style preferences. The best way to engage these digital natives as employees is through the use of innovative technology. Brands need to ensure their employees feel productive throughout the day, with clear actions on what they need to tackle and when.
Improving Task Management Tools
Insights from the study showed that while Gen Zers understand reports are a necessary part of their everyday job, two-thirds of those respondents claimed the reports they typically receive are too long and time consuming to read. An additional 30 percent felt the reports weren’t relevant to the job or too complicated to understand. Today, many store-level Gen Z employees are being given complicated, multipage reports and asked to read, interpret and determine how to respond. This often causes confusion, misinterpretation or, most common, many times the reports are ignored entirely. If employees are busy focused on deciphering the numerous reports they receieve on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, they’re not on store floors interacting with shoppers or ensuring all shelves are stocked appropriately. Additionally, many retailers invest significant time and energy into teaching employees how to interpret reports, which is a costly investment for part-time or seasonal employees.
This challenge presented by Gen Zers’ preferences for better task management requires a solution. There are surprisingly simple prescriptive analytics solutions available that can provide precise direction straight to the employee’s phone or tablet, bringing actionable knowledge to store associates. Forty percent of the surveyed respondents indicated they prefer to receive simple step-by-step prescriptions for their work tasks sent through digital mediums. Retailers should consider adopting smarter task management solutions that bridge the gap for Gen Zers, enabling employees to work more efficiently. Creating seamless and effective work experiences through technology has become a huge differentiator for this next generation of employees.
In today’s competitive retail environment, a bright future starts with retailers capturing Gen Zers’ interest in working for their brands and developing loyalty in the workplace. Companies that keep up-to-speed with technologies that make work smarter and more engaging will improve the way young employees optimize their time throughout the day. While this survey was focused on Gen Z preferences for retail, its findings ring true across a variety of industries. All brand leaders should take a deeper look into this growing and influential group of individuals, and adjust business strategies accordingly.
Guy Yehiav is CEO of Profitect, a prescriptive analytics company for retail and CPG companies.
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As a leader in enterprise AI solutions at the edge, with 25+ years of experience driving profits with data and IoT in the retail and the supply chain industries, Guy oversees the corporate strategy, direction and success of Zebra Analytics at Zebra Technologies. He was previously the CEO of Profitect, where he guided the company through multiple years of significant growth, including 182% revenue growth and 137% headcount growth from 2018-2019, before being acquired by Zebra Technologies. This was his second exit for his shareholders, after growing the Demantra supply chain optimization software company and selling it to Oracle. He has lead companies that keep complexity at the back end and simplicity at the front end, cultivating machine learning and smart decision-making based on data to deliver stellar results for customers.