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There are several aspects of a career in grocery that are attractive to Millennials, who nearly make up the majority of American’s workforce.

How independent retailers can attract the best young talent to the grocery industry

Every independent grocer has a story to tell that will resonate with the workers they’re trying to attract

Nick Nickitas is the Founder & CEO of Rosie, the locally focused e-commerce company that partners with leading independent grocers and their wholesalers to provide e-commerce, delivery opportunities, omnichannel marketing and deep data services.



Everyone who works in the grocery industry has a different story explaining how they landed there. Maybe a family connection to the grocery business, fond memories of strolling down aisles with Mom and Dad as a child, or during summer jobs bagging groceries in high school. Whatever the reason, those who work in grocery know it’s a special industry with many benefits and rewards.

The challenge is that independent grocers don’t always know the best way to tell the industry’s story in a way that attracts bright young talent. For many older Americans, headlines about Millennials being impatient and lazy has distorted the view of a whole generation of passionate, hardworking people who want to find fulfilment in their jobs, just like anyone else. On the other hand, Millennials may have an equally distorted view of the grocery industry since a lot of the action can happen outside of the grocery aisles. In reality, there are several aspects of a career in grocery that are attractive to this younger generation that nearly makes up the majority of American’s workforce.

The grocery industry has a lot to offer young, aspirational workers. Here are a few ways independent grocers can promote the culture, values, and benefits to attract young talent. 

Sell them on your vision

To make the right impression on those you’d like to hire, you need to tell your story in a compelling way. If you can sell young workers on the direction your business is headed and make it personal, they can get a better grasp of how they can be part of it. Are you planning to deepen your ties to the community? Integrate not only this mission into your communications but also the steps you plan to take to get there. Are you making tech, data and e-commerce a key part of your strategy? Attract workers interested in tech and excite them with the cutting-edge changes happening in our industry. Clearly explain how your business is transforming, the needs you are fulfilling for your customers, and paint a compelling picture of why others should get onboard.

Signal openness and willingness to change

One of the best parts of adding new team members to any organization is the influx of different perspectives and approaches to the way your business has been doing things for years. This is particularly true for younger workers who may come from other industries, tap into other channels when it comes to purchase decision-making, or have a better grasp on the attitudes of their demographic. To attract talent with alternative experience or points of view, you need to demonstrate that you embrace change and are willing to try things in a different way. If you haven’t already started to shake things up, it may be time to start. Already testing new ideas? Share the adjustment you’ve made and promote your organization as an industry leader and change agent. 

Strengthen your leadership development pipeline

Millennials are known to change jobs more frequently than past generations. In fact, 21% of Millennials say they've changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-Millennials who report the same. Skeptics might say younger workers lack focus, but in reality Millennials are constantly looking to be challenged, want bosses who will coach and mentor them, and aren’t afraid of moving on in situations where they don’t see potential to grow. To attract younger workers to jobs in the grocery sector, you must be able to demonstrate a pipeline of opportunities. If several of your management-level employees rose through the ranks, you can tell a powerful story about your business rewarding hard work with greater responsibility and leadership opportunities. 

Having a career in grocery is challenging and rewarding — two of the key qualities younger generations are looking for in their work. Every independent grocer has a story to tell that will resonate with the talent you’re trying to attract. Take some time to reflect on what your business has to offer and the most compelling way to tell that story. Focus on the unique contribution you could make to their prospective team member’s career. Invest in the culture and future leaders of your business and the talent will come.

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