Gen Y on the Job

Young people coming out of high school and college are part of Generation Y, a group ranging from preteens to around 30 years of age. Also known as Millennials, they’re fast-paced, team-oriented, and constantly connected through cell phones and social networks. Jewelers who hire Millennials can take advantage of those characteristics, says Jan Ferri-Reed, coauthor of Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions of Dollars in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It. In an exclusive interview with JCK, Ferri-Reed offered the following tips.

  1. Take advantage of their social networks. They’ll be eager to tell their friends about their new job and your store, and “friends” can include hundreds of people on their social networks. “They love opportunities like that and will quickly gather their friends together,” says Ferri-Reed. “They like to be tapped.”

  2. Make training an ongoing process. “From the training standpoint, don’t just bring them into store, have them watch a video, and tell them how you greet customers,” Ferri-Reed says. “Spread out the education and training in the different aspects of both the sales piece and the product piece and involve them in the process each step of way.”

  3. Involve Gen Yers and communicate with them. Millennials are used to a constant stream of information, and that’s the way they like it. “They like to know the big picture, so keep them informed,” says Ferri-Reed. “They do like a lot of feedback, regardless of the relationship giving them feedback—what’s the nature of the business and how they can help. They want to contribute. Any feedback that managers can give, they’re pretty open to that.” Gen Yers are goal-oriented, but they want to understand how their individual goals are connected to the store’s goals.
    Ferri-Reed also says involving Millennials in promotional activities “can go a long way toward promoting the store to their own generation.”

  4. Turn them loose on the Internet. “These young people can access a lot of information, and very quickly,” says Ferri-Reed. Ask them to research the competition, find and report on jewelry blogs, and show you some blogs they think are good. During training, ask them to do an Internet search on gemstones and gemstone treatments, new alloys, or up-and-coming designers. Ask them to suggest their own search topics.

  5. Encourage teamwork. Gen Yers love collaboration, so when you set goals, include at least some for the entire team and avoid cutthroat competition between team members. Millennials also like team brainstorming. “They like to share ideas, like to know who else is working there, who their colleagues are,” says Ferri-Reed. “They like to get to know one another and be able to provide backup.”

  6. Make it fun. “Fun doesn’t have to be out in front of the customer,” says Ferri-Reed. “It may be in the back room or with certain kinds of goals or camaraderie. Fun can be interesting tidbits that they learn about the products that give them more background.”—Richard Dalglish