Retailers Not Wowing Gen-Y Workers
By Tom Ryan
A study from Deloitte and the National Retail Federation finds
that while retailers agree hiring, developing, and retaining top talent
is essential to achieving their business strategies, efforts around attracting
tomorrow’s leaders among the Gen-Y generation are often lacking.
In the study,
Thom McElroy, U.S. talent leader, retail, Deloitte, noted that, according to
numerous findings, Gen Yers "value career progression, accelerated
learning, and a work culture that matches their values." A survey of senior
executives from 29 of the largest retailers in the U.S. conducted in Fall
2009 found many of these issues are "already on the radar screen for
many retailers" but
not as high as they presumably should be.
For instance, 41 percent of the respondents
felt that their companies were not effective at helping employees develop the
skills needed to move up and succeed at the next level, while half acknowledged
that their organizations did not effectively map clear career paths for ambitious
employees. A third felt that their organizations did not have effective succession
"These deficits will especially loom large for talented, ambitious workers
in today’s job market," wrote Mr. McElroy. "If they see greater
long-term opportunity elsewhere, they will likely pursue it."
also found that while 75 percent believe their compensation levels are competitive
with the rest of the industry, the study’s authors believe paying a "competitive" wage
may not be enough when it comes to attracting and keeping talent.
"That could prove particularly problematic as retailers strive to please
younger and increasingly less loyal and more opportunistic Generation Y workers," wrote
Finally, the survey found that even in the tight labor market,
respondents considered employees’ increasing demands for work-life balance
to be only a mid-level talent issue, based on the average score of only 3.0. The
highest ranking was 5.0.
"We believe retailers who adjust their talent management strategies to
Gen Y will be better positioned to tap into this crucial talent pool," said
Mr. McElroy. "Retailers who do not will likely face challenges, as this
group tends to be less loyal and more restless than prior generations."
findings from the survey:
- Retailers ranked merchandising as the function that most needs highly talented
resources, followed closely by retail operations. Merchandise planning, store
associates, and finance all tied for third.
- A wide majority of executive (76 percent) cited "financial rewards
and incentives" as the primarily tool for attracting and retaining high-potential
employees. That was followed by offering "training and development opportunities",
69 percent; and "brand attraction", 66 percent.
- Forty-one percent do not have the human resources technology to support
talent management within their organizations.
- Twenty-four percent are not tracking what key competitors are doing to
manage critical talent.
Discussion Questions: What in your opinion are the primary talent
development challenges faced by the retail industry compared to other industries? How,
if at all, will recruiting and developing talent have to change for Gen-Y workers
versus previous generations?
- The Retail Talent Marketplace: An executive
perspective on growing people from within – National Retail Federation