Viewpoints

Are Millennials the Perfect Supermarket Employees?

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Millennials have a hard time finding a silver lining in this economy, with so many of them highly educated, carrying high debt for their degrees, and unemployed or underemployed. Boomers have delayed their retirement to replenish their nest eggs, but will likely step aside within a handful of years. It is predicted that Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. 

But for now, according to a study released by PayScale, the most common jobs held by this generation are retail floor clerks and sales representatives, both are among the lowest paying jobs. Retail clerks average $19,300 per year. This is an opportunity for food retailers.

Part-timers in supermarkets have regularly turned over at more than 100% per year. Even in a slow economy, however, the rate persists at 44.1% annually, compared with 11.2% for full-timers, and 8.4% for retail headquarters and corporate staff, according to the Food Marketing Institute. Store staffers are the face and personality of a supermarket. Costco and Trader Joe’s appear to understand this. Wegmans and Whole Foods have built their reputation on having knowledgeable staff in every aisle. They value their employees and pay them relatively well to help create positive environments that keep turnover down. Continuity of well-trained staff is becoming more important, since smartphone-equipped shoppers armed with product and price information demand more responsiveness.

It is time to offer a new opportunity to the food-centric, food-loving Millennials to join supermarkets. Food retailers at both the high and low-end of the wage spectrum could benefit by hiring Millennials, not only with more livable wages, but with career development opportunities that will both empower the individual to make use of their talents and passion, but also to feed the growing need for educated young talent.

REFRESH blog: Will Millennials Really Change the Game?

Work styles may be challenging, however, as the MTV “No Collar Workers” reports how different Millennials really are. Eighty-one percent of Millennials feel they should be able to set their own hours, a desire that may fit supermarkets at store level, but is challenging as they move up in the organization. Almost three-quarters say they need “me time” on the job — double that of Boomers and a full 90% believe that they deserve their “dream job.” The challenge before us is how to mix their passion with their beliefs to create the next generation of super-marketeers.

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Discuss this Blog Entry 1

Anonymoua (not verified)
on Oct 3, 2012

this is a workable idea if you could structure the work to that "ME" time which is the prime sales days for the retail supermarket business. Most milennials' idea of a work schedule is different from the standard of the schedule. I would like to see comments on how to make this work if these jobs are only considered temporary stop gaps on the way to "Dream Job". I would like to find a way to show this group that these jobs can lead to "Dream Jobs" if viewed differently. This means that those who decide the number of jobs from above need to stop viewing the employees as cost effecting numbers and more like cost developing persons.

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David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

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Carol Angrisani is an associate editor at Supermarket News. Along with covering the packaged goods beat, she also manages SN’s annual private-label and ethnic marketing supplements. Carol...
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