Selling a career in retail to millennials

photo courtesy of iStockphoto

According to Pew Research, the millennial generation accounts for 27% of the world’s population. At between 19 to 35 years old, they are in their young adulthood and fast becoming the world’s most important generational cohort for consumer spending growth, source of employees, and overall economic prospects.

In absolute terms, India, China, the United States, Indonesia, and Brazil have the world’s largest Millennial populations (see figure 1). Together they account for nearly half of the world’s Millennials. Again, this is unsurprising, as these five countries are also the most heavily populated.

As a workforce, millennials see technology as playing an important part of the career. The 2017 Telenor survey of 4,200 respondents across 6 markets in Southeast Asia – Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Singapore – revealed that 63% of respondents see mobile/internet technology as important to their career by 2020.

Debi Hirshlag, Workday’s Strategic Industry Advisor for Retail and Hospitality

According to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, millennials prefer to work fulltime but are also attracted to flexibility working. How this influences hiring prospects in the retail space is the subject of an exclusive interview with Debi Hirshlag (photo right), Workday’s strategic industry advisor for Retail and Hospitality.

Retail Tech Innovation approach Hirshlag to identify contract hiring trends in the region, particularly as millennials enter the workforce.

Retail is a very challenging industry – staffing is often based on business cyclicals. For Asia, do you see a trend towards contracting work out for specific periods as opposed to hiring permanent staff?

Debi Hirshlag: Although the use of contingent labor in Asia is still less than in other developed parts of the world, the region is catching up, across multiple business sectors. For example, about a quarter of the workforce in Asia is hired on a contract basis (versus over 40% of United States workers).  And, a recent Page Personnel survey of Hong Kong and Singapore employers showed that 85% were planning to increase or keep the same number of contractors over the next 12 months.

What’s driving this trend?

Debi Hirshlag: The trend of using contingent labor in Asia is driven by several factors:

  • Seasonality – Industries like retail and hospitality face large swings in the number of workers they need during holidays and other high seasons. Short-term contingent labor allows businesses to meet peak period demands without over-hiring.
  • Shortage of Skilled Labor – Asia continues to have competitive labor markets in many regions, creating a shortage of talent, both in numbers and skill sets, driving up wages and making hiring challenging. This supply-demand imbalance means companies may opt to bring on workers just long enough to complete a project or support a temporary hiring ramp, via short-term contracts.