What do workers want? Specifically, what do those workers identified as members of Gen Z (born after 1997) and millennials (born 1981 to 1996) want? They want to know they matter.
Gen Z and millennials account for about 46% of the U.S. workforce, according to the Department of Labor. When it comes to hair stylists, 55 percent are under the age of 40, which means most of them identify in one of these demographics.
As every experienced Great Clip franchisee knows, recruiting and retaining stylists is at the top of the list for operating a successful walk-in hair salon. That’s been true in the best of times and even more so in challenging times. Coming out of the pandemic, the demand for labor is extraordinarily high; there are roughly 75 unemployed workers for every 100 open jobs.
So what’s the best way to attract and retain employees, especially Gen Z-ers and millennials, when they have options for employment? Several big name outfits—Harvard Business School, the Gallup Organization, the U.S. Labor Department, to name a few—have recently released studies to answer that question. I’ll get to their bullet points in a minute, but first let me give you some real-world insights from an insider at a Great Clips salon.
Pranav Patel, a Great Clips franchisee since 2014 who owns 12 salons in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe market, believes the secret to recruiting and retention is something he learned as his salons started reopening after having to shut down during the pandemic: Show respect by communicating often and in a way that resonates with their learning style.
“I did everything I could to communicate with everyone about what it would look like when we reopened our salons,” says Pranav. “I explained the reopening process and what PPE and other items we’d provide—everything they needed to do their work safely. This showed that we cared about the details so we could to safely welcome them and our customers back to the salon.”
Pranav and his management team also knew their stylists would respond favorably to being able to see what it would be like once the salons reopened. So they produced a video to demonstrate both the customer and stylist experience—from check-in, to the haircut, to paying at check out, and all the sanitizing steps in between. “You can talk about things and write things,” Pranav explains, “but we’re visual people. The video alleviated a lot of concerns.”
What Pranav did to inform and reassure his employees mirrors the of the Gallup Organization, which asked Gen Z and millennials what they look for in an employer. The answers boiled down to five points:
Above all, they want employers who care about their well-being.
Opportunities to develop skills and careers are important.
They prefer to work for companies with a strong brand and culture, companies that provide the possibility of advancing in a career.
They want to work for an organization that is ethical.
Younger workers want assurances that their employer cares about the community and the planet, as well as the bottom line. They also want to work in an atmosphere of trust among their teammates, knowing that everyone is committed to high performance standards. It’s important for them to feel a part of something “bigger than themselves,” and to have a sense of purpose. According to U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study 2019, Gen Z wants to be proud of where they work, and views an employer’s reputation as an extension of their personal brands.
They want employers who are open and transparent.
Employees want to feel their bosses are approachable and will listen to their concerns. Frequent communication and clear information helps workers feel confident in their employers’ ability to lead.
They value diverse and inclusive environments.
Finally, employees—no matter their age—want, now more than ever, to have their work lives and their personal lives to blend. They want to be respected as professionals with meaningful lives.
Pranav and hundreds of other Great Clips franchisees who have gone from surviving to thriving in their businesses this past year know that the best staff recruiting and retention practices start with personalized, timely communication. It’s one of the best ways to show someone they matter, and as Aretha reminds us, it’s the best way to show a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T!