Professional Jeweler Archive: Retaining Employees Who Don't Live to Work

March 2001

Managing/Your People

Retaining Employees Who Don't Live to Work

Gen-Xers want it all: nice hours, good pay, growth and great working conditions. Can you stand up to their scrutiny?

You’re a jeweler. A retailer. Which means that as a place to work, your store probably doesn’t offer the conditions valued by the early 20s-to-mid-30s Gen-Xers who make up the bulk of today’s retail sales associate pool.

If you’ve been in business for some time, you may be used to the needs of Baby Boomer employees, but many of them have moved on to other jobs. Gen-Xers are much different. They value flexibility, personal growth and work/life balance. They’re less willing to live at the store in exchange for a mere paycheck. They want time off, and they want to gain skills that will help them get larger paychecks, more time off or both.

These demands put you at a disadvantage, says Carol Farmer, a futurist and consumer-trends analyst. Retailing is known for modest salaries, dead-end jobs and hours that encroach on employees’ evenings, weekends and holidays. To retain Gen-X workers, you may have to raise salaries, create new job challenges and be more flexible about work hours.

Oh, and as if that isn’t enough, effectively managing – and retaining – these workers also requires attention to the work environment. This includes not just the physical environment – running a clean store, for example – but the emotional environment. Like older workers, Gen-Xers want to feel empowered and proud of the company for which they work.

Sometimes charitable work can help. Mass merchandiser Target is active in its communities and provides opportunities for employees to take part. Around the holidays, Target provides Christmas trees for various organizations and asks employees to deliver them and conduct parties for people there. This tells cynical employees Target doesn’t just talk about support of charities; it actually gives up employees’ work time and its own inventory to provide it.

– Mark E. Dixon

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications