Millennial Generation Retail Employees: 5 Tips To Avoid Them Quitting

By Bob Phibbs

Millennial employees reasons quitThe truth is, Millennial generation employees leave managers, not companies. If you are wondering why you can’t keep good employees - especially Millennial generation employees - here are five reasons and solutions:

Your onboarding process.

In the old days, you’d give an employee a handbook, let them shadow someone for a week, and you would feel they were trained. Most of them, however, were still really winging it.

That isn’t going to work in 2015.

Why? Millennial associates are much less concerned with working for a company for a long time. When it gets boring, most will move on to another company before you’ll have time to write them up.

You can’t just let them be a warm body who just shows up, takes out the trash, and stocks the shelves.

What to do: Your onboarding of an employee must quickly bring them into the fold as an ambassador of your brand. Tell them why you are in business and how you are different from other stores. Get them to try on your merchandise and view your Facebook fan comments. At the end of the first day, have a conversation with them about what they see as your strengths. The object is to get them to connect with you, your brand and your customers on that very first day.

The tasks you have them focus on.

Employees nowadays need a challenge. Millennials are one of the smartest, most curious and positive generations on the planet. They also can be one of the least self-directed due to the distractions of smartphones. If you only train them to stock, price and clean, they will feel as if they are serfs in your kingdom.

What to do: Cleaning and stocking are all part of shop – but they aren’t your shop. Retail is the connection between customers, your employees and your products. The soft skills of building rapport and selling the merchandise should be your focus, not just the old, if you can lean you can clean.

Lack of culture promotes a them, not us feeling.

If you have a stable base of senior employees who know each other, outsiders are rarely genuinely welcomed. The newbie usually has to prove they are funny, smart, or can sell to the rest of the crew before they are brought into the fold.

The problem is that can make it feel like a them, not us culture. Millennials especially are a we generation. Make them feel isolated or alone and they just won’t stand for it.

What to do: Make sure you find ways to introduce everyone to the new assoicate. Take care to build enough rapport with them from the outset, so you can describe something your senior associate and the newbie Millennial might have in common. Be as concerned that they fit into your culture as much as how they’ll sell your product.

Nothing special.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of unremarkable businesses out there. If you are one of them where the products you carry can be found in many places and the store experience is basically customers bringing their purchases to the counter, it’s going to be a fairly dreary job for anyone to work. Especially for minimum wage.

What to do: Because you aren’t paying them the big bucks Millennials think they’re worth, it is up to you to give them the skills they can use when they move on. It’s up to you to make your store a fun place to work; a place where they feel they belong and a place they look forward to coming to. Millennials were taught to only respond when they were rewarded, so do things like reward good behavior or great sales with lottery scratchers.

If you are more ambitious, take a look at how you can adapt the peer-to-peer model being used by a California Ace Hardware where associates are able to share their knowledge in a new way that is fun and builds community.

See also,  How To Choose The Right Sales Training For Your Store 

You’re just rotten to work for.

Oops, that smarts. I know. I used to be rotten to work for when I began in retail. I’d either kick them up the stairs with a promotion or out the door with a pink slip. While that worked in the early 80’s, being hard-nosed or inconsiderate will alienate both your best and newest workers.

Expecting Millennial generation associates to be at your beck-and-call by waiting to post the schedule on Friday for the week that begins the next day leads to resentment. So does telling them they have to stay late. As does telling them they have to train someone new. Like any generation, they’ll repay your inconsideration by stealing, being tardy or missing shifts.

How to keep the good ones: During your training, be very clear what the trainee has to do to get a promotion. Let them know it is their job to make the manager look good. When they add value and become indispensable in their present position, give them additional responsibilities and a raise.

In sum

If you’re not sure if you are hard to work for, don’t be afraid to ask employees to review you. Make sure they know you are listening.

If you are doing all of these things and it’s not working for you, you may need to do a better job at hiring. Although you want to reach all Millennials, you may not be able to because many have been raised to get by with doing almost nothing but still get the reward. If they won’t buy into your process and be successful, let them go.

Give care and concern to your Millennial employees and expect they’ll do the same for you and your customers. If they don’t, again, you must fire them. In that regard, they are no different than any generation employee.

I've added a whole course on the differences between Millennials and Boomers to my online, interactive sales training program SalesRX.com.

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