Preparing the Next Generation

Jun 18, 2019

America’s labor force has seen a lot of change in recent years: in 2016, Millennials (born 1981–2000) officially took over as the largest generation in the workforce, more Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age and no longer working full-time, and Americans that make up Gen Z (born 1996–2010) are now entering the labor force and are set to make up one-fifth of it by 2021.

Change and shifting demographics are not new to major retailers, who have revised their own in-store strategies to meet the needs of various consumer segments, but are independents considering these shifting demographics for their workplace strategies as well?

As generations that grew up with technology, both Millennials and Gen Z have transformed the consumer base and buying trends, but their perspective and views don’t just stop on site of a purchase—it affects how they view and perform in the workplace as well. And the stakes for attracting associates from younger generations have become especially high as these job candidates have more options today.

Millennials seek employment with purpose but also prioritize collaboration and flexibility. Additionally, with more work experience under their belt, many are rising into management roles. Compared to Millennials, Gen Z is said to be more competitive and wants more independence. Shaped by their own life experiences, these cohorts have different expectations of the workplace and offer their own unique advantages as associates.

Independent grocers realize that attracting and retaining talented associates is essential, but this is a growing challenge in the competitive 2019 landscape. To address this challenge, this year the NGA Foundation launched a career center to connect job seekers to opportunities in the industry and give them the resources they need to arrive prepared and confident on their first day and beyond. For more information on the variety of resources and job openings provided, check out

NGA has always stressed the importance of developing the next generation of industry, and alongside the NGA Foundation, we are working to provide more training and resources for independents to help them formulate strategies and drive success. We are also working to increase understanding of the independent grocery industry, its employment opportunities, and to position it as a career of choice. Employing almost 1 million men and womenour industry offers a wide variety of stable, well-paying jobs, which benefit the communities we do business in, and our industry has been and will continue to be one in which people can start in entry level jobs and work their way up to managerial and executive positions.

We know that skilled employees are integral to ensuring a great experience for our customers and the overall success of our industry. 

As John Ross recently said, "Recruiting--and specifically recruiting the right talent--is one of the largest issues IGA retailers face. Our partnership with NGA and their new career center could be one of the easiest ways to address these challenges across the IGA chain." 

In short, if our people are not the best they can be, then our industry is not the best it can be. Let's work together to build stronger teams across the board. 

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