Retail Training for Millennials

Training Generation Y EMployeesMost retail owners and leaders were born in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s making them part of the “Baby Boom” or “Gen X” generations.  These people grew up in a time when the economy allowed them to be upwardly mobile and well educated.  Boomers and GenX’ers also tend to be highly loyal employees who will engage with accompany for a long time – they view work as integral to their lifestyle and self-worth. They also were the last generations to come of age in a period without personal computers, cell phones, tablets and pervasive Internet connectivity.

It has been different for Millennials or people who are frequently identified as being part of “Gen Y.” Born in the late 80’s, and 90’s, this generation was the first to grow up in a “multi-tasking” world where they are always connected and because of that are able to identify and seek out new experiences.  And while everyone is different, “experiential” is a great way to describe Millennials as a whole.  They are always seeking out new knowledge, new experiences and new challenges – and that means that they need to be managed, motivated and trained differently that previous retail employees.

Retailers need to look at and work on this issue because it is estimated that up to 1/2 of all retail employees are from this generation.  Retail Training Services’ owner, David Goodwin recently conducted a Web interview with elearningTV about this challenge.  Readers can click here to view the interview.

Five Things to Remember When Training Millennials for Retail

–          Utilize technology to your advantage – They may be more comfortable learning through technology, so leverage retail e-learning programs that provide core knowledge and concepts that they can access through desktop or mobile devices

–          Focus on the “Why” not just the “How” – Millennials are naturally curious and as a general rule, they want to ensure they are doing things for the right reasons…not just the right way.

–          Use “chunking” in your training – Break-up your training into smaller pieces.  The days of sitting in a lecture for 8 hours are gone.  Use many training methods (lecture, workbook, e-learning, video, skill practice) and conduct them in smaller bites of 15-30 minutes.

–          Make learning a “social” and “exploring activity – Millennials are social and inquisitive.  They love to work in teams to get things done and they love to explore their own ways of getting things accomplished.  So give them a target and then guide them along the path to success.

–          Keep it interesting and challenging – Many retailers complain about their high employee turnover.  Surveys show that the biggest reason Millennials leave employment is boredom (not money).  So remember to stretch your team members to learn new skills and then apply them to improving the customer experience.


Are you having challenges motivating and training your Millennial workforce? Whether you own a single retail boutique or operate a national chain of stores, Retail Training Services offer a full suite of programs including retail training courses that can be delivered in-person, on-line or in a blended format.  Use our standard on-line retail courses or let us create a custom retail training program for you!