Costco Among Brands Trying to Win with Millennial Employees

Posted by: Brendan Shaughnessy

With October coming to a close and Thanksgiving just around the corner, the top retail brands have only one thing on the mind, and it isn’t stuffing and cranberry sauce. Yes of course, Black Friday is one of the biggest retail days of the year and it’s one that’s becoming more and more of a spectacle every year. With the average consumer spending over $400 totaling $57 billion over the holiday weekend, retailers have been opening their doors and dropping prices more each year.

However, what many people fail to forget as they push and shove their way to holiday savings is the people staffing these popular stores, stocking the shelves and ringing up the piles of merchandise. It’s remarkable how many consumers celebrate when brands like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target agree to open on Thanksgiving, just to push sales. One brand, however, is really showing their employees love this year.

At Costco, the Black Friday deals won’t begin until Friday. An odd concept, I know. Costco decided to end the commotion about how early they’d be opening on Thanksgiving by simply not opening.

A Costco spokesperson stated, “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with 3065650626_7ebe26cec0_ztheir families.”

For such a simple concept, the gesture has certainly gone a long way. There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the decision on Twitter with people applauding the retailer’s move. The decision also begs the question, why aren’t more companies considering giving their employees the day off?

Many of Costco’s employees are millennials and there has recently been a huge cry for brands asking for help engaging their millennial employees. Well, forcing them to come in at 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving would be one way to scare them off. While not all brands can afford to give their entire company a day off on one of the biggest retail days of the year, the message goes far beyond an extra vacation day. Now more than ever, millennial employees appreciate when their employers stand for more than their bottom line.

Now, standing for more than your bottom line can mean a variety of things. It’s easy to look at brands like TOMS shoes and Chipotle for brands that give money (or shoes) to charity or prioritize fresh, local ingredients. Those are certainly things millennials are willing and ready to support. However, even something as simple as going to your employees and asking how they would improve workplace culture not only improves transparency within a company, it allows employees to contribute and participate in their workplace.

Costco has consistently placed its employees first, paying its hourly workers an average of $20.89 and has even been called the “happiest company in the world.” Making the workplace a more transparent and sharewothy atmosphere has certainly not hurt the overall sales and instead gives them the opportunity to extend the holiday season to their employees. So what does this mean for other retailers who can’t afford to take Thanksgiving off?

  1. Find Your Sweet Spot

What makes most sense for you to give back to your employees and how can you realistically thank them for the job that they are doing? By finding what your brand aligns with best, continue to use your brand authority to your advantage and offer incentives and rewards to help create a great work environment for all your employees, not just the millennial ones.

  1. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

You certainly can’t win with your employees if you don’t ask them what they need to be successful. Don’t make assumptions here because if you’re wrong, your turnover is going to by considerably higher than you want it to be. Transparency is key and asking and listening goes a long way.

  1. Think Blue Ocean

Giving their employees Thanksgiving off sounds a bit out there, but it’s an idea that really struck home with their supporters. Don’t be afraid to try something new or experiment with new ways to give back to your employees. You never know how great the impact could be. After all, winning over your millennial employees is key to winning with millennial consumers.

So the next time you walk into Costco, think about how you actually experience the brand, because although you might not be getting as good of a deal on Thanksgiving, you might want to turn in an application.

Photo Credit via Flickr: Mike Mozart & Kaleb Fulgham.

About Brendan Shaughnessy

Brendan Shaughnessy is an Associate Strategist at Barkley. Brendan uses his data-driven background to develop strategic insights to help brands speak authentically to modern consumers and reimagine their best possible future. Client challenges are not...See Brendan's full bio.