Connecting & Engaging at NACS Show 2017
CHICAGO — Connection and engagement seemed to be the two predominant themes as the 2017 NACS Show got underway today at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center.
Returning to the Windy City after a six-year absence, "Connect" is the official theme of this year's convention. During the opening general session, NACS CEO Hank Armour urged the large crowd of retailers and industry suppliers to connect with new ideas at any of the show's 60-plus education sessions and with suppliers at any of the more than 1,300 exhibitors at this year's expo.
Keynote speaker Eric Chester also advised the attendees on how to better connect with their employees to create a truly inspired workplace. Contrasting today's millennial workers with previous generations, he pointed out that finding, developing and keeping great people is much harder in today's economy.
Using examples from both inside the convenience retail industry (QuikTrip, Sheetz, Kwik Trip and Casey's) and outside (Mars, Wegmans, Marriott and Apple), Chester provided case studies on how making employees feel valued and acknowledged creates a culture that, in turn, makes your store a fun and terrific place to work.
Chester is the author of "On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out." Today, "the onus is on the prospective employer to show how he/she can fulfill the prospective employee's goals, not vice versa," he said.
He argued that too many companies "fish" for new workers when they should be "hunting" for them. This means beating the bushes of local high schools, trade schools, colleges, and incentivizing your top employees to refer friends like them.
Companies should even hunt among their best customers and best competitors, he urged.
Chester also noted that the best companies to work for are always trying to get better and they constantly seek feedback from employees on what the company can do to make their job better.
"Listen, respond, engage and acknowledge what they are doing right," the author said.