NRF 2020: Engaging the Next Generation of Associates

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NRF 2020: Engaging the Next Generation of Associates

By Melissa Kress - 01/27/2020
Gen Z on their mobile devices

NEW YORK — As Gen Z begins to join millennials in the workplace, retailers are looking for new ways to communicate with their associates. Being able to connect with your workforce via mobile is a hot topic right now, according to Brett Patrontasch, CEO of Shyft. 

Seattle-based Shyft is a mobile workforce management platform and its goal is to help employees ensure "no shift is missed again," Patrontasch explained during a presentation at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail's Big Show & Expo.

At this time, members of Gen Z are between seven and 22 years old, while millennials currently range between 23 and 38 years old. Taken together, 48 percent of the U.S. workforce composition is Gen Z and millennial employees, Patrontasch cited, adding that 98 percent of Gen Z and 93 percent of millennials have a smartphone.

He offered up two other compelling figures from Shyft's research on mobile matters: 25 percent of Gen Z had a smartphone before they were 10 years old, and 57 percent of Gen Z feel more insecure without their phone than their wallet.

Although these generations span different age groups, they have something important in common: both grew up as connected generations. Millennials and Gen Z grew up with computers, video games, mobile phones and the Internet, noted Patrontasch.

With the rise of mobile and cloud technology, it is easier to connect with workers today. Yet, it is not enough for retailers to just have a mobile strategy to connect with their employees; they must keep in mind that the user experience matters to this new era of associates.

"Millennials are mobile pioneers and Gen Z are mobile natives," Patrontasch said.

Today's workforce has very little attention span. As the Shyft CEO noted, Gen Z's attention span is the shortest, at 8 seconds. Millennials' attention span isn't much longer, at 12 seconds.

"The user experience is key to engaging with Gen Z and millennials," he advised. 

To that end, Patrontasch offered up the following pointers:

  • Create a BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, policy with guidelines;
  • Promote healthy use of smartphones for work, including sanctioned activities;
  • Offer a mobile solution as a voluntary opt-in benefit; and
  • Provide other options such as company tablets or kiosks.

The National Retail Federation's NRF 2020 Vision: Retail's Big Show & Expo took place Jan. 11-14 at the Jacob J. Javits Center in New York.