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There’s a retail labor shortage the likes of which we haven’t seen in two decades. Gen Z will make up a quarter of the workforce this year, and retailers are raising salaries in an attempt to compete for talent. In this competitive hiring landscape, you need to be able to understand the expectations of next-generation workers to have the capacity to recruit and retain them.

So, let’s take a look at the expectations Gen Z bring to retail today and what can you do to harness their energy and tech savvy for your business.

Focus on the Human Element 

This will come as a surprise to some of you, but Generation Z puts a high value on face-to-face dialogue, both when they visit physical stores and in the workplace. In fact, 90 percent of Gen Z want some type of human touch added to their work interactions, and collaborating with coworkers is a top priority for next-gen employees. Since the retail industry is facing an unprecedented labor shortage, it’s more important than ever to facilitate face-to-face communication—or the next best thing through video chat—to recruit and retain your retail staff. 

Know that Failure IS an Option 

The Gen Z workforce isn’t rolling into your corporate office or physical store with an ego problem. Quite the contrary. They aren’t afraid of making mistakes, and they have a more constructive view of failure than the generations that preceded them. And a staggering 80 percent of Gen Z workers embrace their failures as something that will make them “more innovative” as they grow in their careers. This “get back on the horse” mentality is especially beneficial when it comes to training Gen Z on new point-of-sale technologies or assessing their performance on sales goals.

Support Remote Work and Freelancing Positions

Gen Z may be hyper-focused on the human touch, but they also value their freedom. CNBC reports that three-quarters (74 percent) of Millennial and Gen Z managers have employees who often work remotely, and, by 2028, 73 percent of all teams are expected to have remote workers. Yes, this means retail workers, too. While you’ll still have cashiers and brand advocates in your physical stores, offering remote and freelance marketing, content creation, and buying positions will give your company a competitive advantage when recruiting young talent. It’s important to realize that your young employees maintain high standards for the human touch even when working remotely, so you’ll want to implement a unified communications and collaboration (UCaaS) solution that helps you maintain an ongoing dialogue with your team—wherever they may be working at the moment.

Strive to Bridge the Generational Divide

There are a few different factors influencing the generational rift. Gen Z and young Millennials tend to have differing views than their predecessors on the advent of new technologies, as well as contrasting personal values, dissimilar communication styles, and a different idea of what qualities make a good cashier or salesperson. Perhaps this is why 75 percent of Gen Z workers would rather have a Millennial manager than a Gen X or Boomer. You can approach this issue strategically by training Millennial and Gen Z employees on their ability to work with different generations—just like how you coach your staff on working with diverse colleagues, because next-gen workers pride themselves on their cultural sensitivity.

Offer Faster and More Frequent Feedback

You may think that nobody likes to have their work critiqued, but this isn’t true when it comes to next-gen workers. In fact, not only is 97 percent of Gen Z alright with receiving feedback regularly after completing a shift or project, but 65 percent of Gen Z need frequent feedback from their supervisor in order to even stay at their jobs. To give next-gen workers the level of feedback and interaction they crave, you may wish to implement a UCaaS solution to facilitate communication with your retail workforce.

A well-designed cloud-based unified communications solution empowers your employees to work quickly and collaboratively. Click here to learn how RingCentral’s UCaaS solution can help you maintain constant contact with your Gen Z workforce without sacrificing your valuable time.

Originally published Feb 12, 2020, updated Dec 30, 2022

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