By: Carol Abel, Vice President, Education Program Development, FMI
I bet if you took a moment you could think of at least three people in the food retail industry who started their career as a cashier or bagger and now have a role leading the company. Can you think of three? More?
That’s because the food retail industry has long embodied the American dream—if you work hard, you’ll rise through the ranks and establish a strong career. This aspect of the food retail industry is one of our cornerstones—we’re honored to have so many among us who started out at the bottom and rose through the ranks. However, while our industry continues to value hard work, promotion from within and career development, the food retail industry offers traditional and not so traditional career paths these days.
In Workforce Attractiveness in the Food Industry: How To Recruit Gen Z, developed under the Gerald E. Peck Fellowship with Saint Joseph’s University, we see the needs of the food retail industry are continuously changing. There are more and more new jobs opening up in the industry such as roles in technology like data analytics and robotics. In many ways the food retail industry has become an industry of innovation and experimentation as companies seek ways to solve the last-mile challenge, revamp to support rising ecommerce consumer demands and shift to a more data-informed supply chain that connects consumers to their food. It’s a fast-moving, dynamic industry creating new jobs, new roles and forging new solutions daily.
Yes, the food retail industry has a past of supporting employees who started at the bottom and rose through the ranks, but the industry of today needs staff with legal, human resources, nutrition, pharmacy, food safety, asset protection, procurement, technology, data analytics and sales skill sets to support an evolving food landscape. Which is where Gen Z comes in. Our research finds that many Gen Zers are either not aware of or do not have full information on the many corporate roles that grocery retailers are attempting to hire or the career paths food retailers offer. The food industry, particularly food retailers, have an opportunity to showcase the variety of career options available to Gen Z.
The Workforce Attractiveness in the Food Industry: How To Recruit Gen Z report outlines key recommendations for food retailers to better recruit Gen Z including:
- Offering development programs.
- Presenting high salaries and quick promotions.
- Showcasing the variety of career options available.
- Highlighting company culture and ways food retailers contribute to communities.
It’s important to honor the past of the food retail industry, but it’s also important to showcase how the industry is evolving and the new opportunities within a food retail career. We encourage you to tell the stories online, in job recruitment venues and more of both those who rose through your ranks and those forging new pathways ahead. In the end, the spirit of hard work and entrepreneurialism is alive and well in our industry and leading us forward.