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The Changing Workforce

Flexible schedules are important to today’s c-store employees.
October 17, 2017

​CHICAGO – Behind baby boomers, millennials represent the biggest generational shift for today’s companies. Organizations who fail to develop a strategy for attracting, rewarding and retaining today’s millennial workforce could fall behind the competition. Staying ahead requires understanding the millennial mindset, suggests Nichole Upshaw, executive director of human resources at RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.

Upshaw is a panelist at Wednesday’s education session, “Making the Gig Economy Work for You: Attract, Incent and Retain Gig Employees in the Age of Uber.” That outlook includes understanding workforce issues such as job stacking (holding multiple part-time jobs), disinterest in career progression and self-actualization.

“You think you know what employees are looking for, but do you?” Upshaw said. “What was once valued in the employee experience is changing. Not every person is motivated the same way.” The gig economy is defined as a non-traditional workforce of freelancers. These are individuals who seek out jobs (anything from part-time retail to driving for car services) over career loyalty to a single employer.

“Many individuals are carrying two to three jobs at a time,” Upshaw said. “Gig employers, like Uber and Lyft, also take from the c-store candidate pool. Our lake has more employers fishing in it, and c-stores are now competing with employers that did not exist before.” Employees struggle to balance multiple part-time work schedules and are now leading an epidemic of call-out behavior, which is contacting employers last minute to say they aren’t coming into work. Climbing the career ladder is less appealing than it used to be.

Instead, today’s employees want to have more control over their time, their schedule and how they work. Conversely, employers struggle to piece together employee schedules and face increased restrictions on availability. High demand from the competition results in high turnover, especially because most c-stores are expanding the complexities of their business through foodservice and other offerings.

Ultimately, high turnover in a complex business results in inconsistent experiences for the consumer. The current shift in attracting part-time employees requires business leaders to develop successful talent strategies. It’s important to educate front-line managers on how to work with the changing workforce. Retailers like Sheetz, QuikTrip, RaceTrac and Maverik are aligning their initiatives with today’s workforce as well. Upshaw said c-stores should listen to their employees and ask them if the company’s current programs and processes are a match for their motivations.

If not, break down and rebuild these in a way that will create a competitive environment that encourages as much stability as possible in the right places. Consider programs and processes that offer flexibility, which is what employees desire. For example, responsive schedules are important the gig economy and technology can help. New scheduling software allows managers to fill shifts in real time based on collected data versus spending valuable time calling employees to come into work. Likewise, electronic, employee-driven training is a more efficient way to train versus the side-by-side method the industry now uses.

“If you don’t build your business processes, programs and operation to be simple and agile, you could have a business model that won’t survive in a high turnover environment,” Upshaw said. “Watching our industry get more complex creates an added layer of challenge to ensure we are also ‘keeping it simple.’ If it takes 30 days to get an employee to competency, yet folks are leaving your organization within that same time frame, you cannot create the stability needed to run the business effectively.”

Attend “Making the Gig Economy Work for You: Attract, Incent and Retain Gig Employees in the Age of Uber” tomorrow at the NACS Show.