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How to Attract Younger Workers, Give More Effective Feedback, And More of Your Questions Answered

Plus how to be productive after a vacation.

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How to Attract Younger Workers, Give More Effective Feedback, And More of Your Questions Answered

I find my first days after a long weekend or vacation aren’t particularly productive. How can I break through the inertia?

There’s likely to be a ton of stuff waiting for you to do, but set yourself a small goal for the first day, then make a list of a few more short, doable goals. Momentum will build from that task, and before long you’ll be your old Energizer bunny self. Just ask yourself: “Why is it ‘too hard’ to do this for just 15 minutes?” It isn’t, and you’ll find that you quickly enjoy the feeling of completion. Other tips to prod yourself into action:

  • Make a public commitment to getting something done. Public scrutiny — even if it’s just in your mind — is a powerful motivator.
  • If it’s a big, cumbersome project you keep delaying, accept that it’s going to take time and praise yourself for incremental progress.
  • Be quick to reward yourself. A bit of relaxation differs from laziness since it’s a reward for a completed task.
What can I do to attract younger workers? We desperately need to add associates who are the same age as our customers.

Amid a tight labor market, young workers have made it clear it’s not just about the money. You’ve no doubt seen headlines about Chipotle offering to pay college tuition fees or box stores promising generous signing bonuses but still struggling to hire new employees. To succeed in attracting young workers, you need to cover the basics, which has become a long list in 2023:

  • Promise competitive pay and benefits
  • Be clear about job responsibilities
  • Offer flexible schedules
  • Highlight opportunities for growth and a path to development
  • Tout your environmental and social consciousness
  • Emphasize the social aspect of the job

On top of that, you need to be adept at social media to not only promote your job openings but showcase your company culture (meaning providing visible evidence of an environment that’s supportive, inclusive, and fun). One way to support this is take your staff out in public a few times a year: go to a ball game, sing karaoke together, dine at a restaurant, do something for the community and get it on video and posted. Let people see you out treating your staff and having a good time as a team.

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But you’re not done yet … did we mention this was a tight labor market?

Start an employee referral plan, participate in local internship programs, provide career information on your website and always be looking, whether it’s when you’re in other retail environments or just through a willingness to talk to job-seekers, position currently open or not.

Final thing: Recognize and take care of your current young employees. Word spreads.

How can I build a team that doesn’t need around-the-clock monitoring?

A lot of it comes down to trust. The research of neuroeconomist Paul Zak has identified the brain chemical oxytocin (shown to facilitate collaboration and teamwork) as a key player in this regard: the higher the levels, the more energetic and collaborative the workers. In Trust Factor: The Science Of Creating High-Performance Companies, he details a framework for creating a culture of trust and building a happier, more loyal and more productive workforce. The framework includes eight key management behaviors that stimulate oxytocin production and generate trust: 1) Recognize excellence; 2) Induce “challenge stress”; 3) Give people discretion in how they do their work; 4) Enable job crafting; 5) Share information broadly; 6) Intentionally build relationships; 7) Facilitate whole-person growth; and 8) Show vulnerability. Ultimately, Zak concludes, managers can cultivate trust by setting a clear direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and then getting out of their way.

What’s the best sort of feedback?

Actionable and immediate. Don’t wait until annual review time. Don’t even wait until your next one-on-one meeting. Whenever possible, deliver feedback within a day of whatever event you’re commenting on so it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. And don’t stress about formalities.

A quick word in the hallway or ping via chat is perfectly fine. (Unless we’re talking about critical feedback on a loaded issue. In that case, grab a private room and sit down together.) Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, argues you need only two elements to provide effective feedback: show that you care personally and challenge the other person directly.

Don’t sugarcoat a critique, but deliver it with compassion. Without the right mixture of empathy and directness, you’ll veer off into coddling, manipulative, or (eep!) aggressive territory.

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Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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