To attract and leverage the best talent, retail and consumer products companies must better address the needs of Millennials, women and multicultural employees, according to a panel of industry leaders participating in "Talent Strategies to Drive Growth and Competitive Advantage," a special SuperSession hosted by NEW and American Express at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami.
The existing "ways of working" will not engage a changing workforce, according to Gerarda Van Kirk, partner for change management consulting at Accenture, who shared insights from "Are you the weakest link? Strengthening your talent supply chain."
Van Kirk was joined by Glenn Hartman, senior vice president, channel business development at Starbucks; Sabrina Wiewel, chief customer officer at Hallmark Cards Inc.; and Kerrie Peraino, senior vice president, global talent management, American Express. The event, which marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Network’s It’s Time Movement for workplace change, was co-hosted by Peraino and NEW President and CEO Joan Toth.
"Culture is the single biggest competitive advantage anyone can have." Hartman said. Embracing openness and a sense of community, Starbucks engages in ongoing conversations with partners — how they choose to refer to employees—eschewing traditional annual reviews. "Culture is homegrown," he added.
"You have to have a sense for what's meaningful to [employees]," Peraino added. "It's the single most important thing our leaders can do in a highly competitive market."
Wiewel agreed. Hallmark chooses to personalize their work experience by reinforcing social consciousness toward customers and employees. The needs of Asian, Latino, African American, LGBT and Millennial demographics are explored and addressed through Hallmark's many targeted business resource groups.
Millennials will replace Baby Boomers as the majority of the workforce in the next five years, and "only about 15 percent of younger employees want to work for large companies, so small is in," Van Kirk said, noting that 'small' can mean more opportunities for mentoring.
"Millennials still want to come into an office," Peraino added. "But maybe not with the same strict schedules as prior generations."
Additionally, Millennials won't settle for the "work hard and pay your dues" mindset of older generations. Work-life integration and access to development are among the professional values Generation Y values the most. "These are the same things most employees want — especially women and multicultural employees — who have too often felt, and been, excluded," Toth said.
"We need a workplace culture that matches our workforce, not the other way around," she said. "This workplace transformation is where we find competitive advantage. It’s how you not only attract and retain, but get the enthusiasm, collaboration and sense of purpose today’s worker wants."