GameStop's 'Grow & Go' gives millennials more

When asked about the work ethic of millennials, Matthew Hirst (right), senior director of HR at GameStop (NYSE:GME), scoffs with disbelief at how others label the generation. The group, between the ages of 18 and 35, are often accused of having a sense of entitlement, which makes them poor workers. But in reality, the group is committed to making the world a better place, with 84 percent saying making a difference is more important than professional recognition. And 64 percent of this demographic would rather make $40,000 at a job they love versus $100,000 at a job they find boring. 

       Matthew Hirst

Specifically at GameStop, millennials are responsible for many successful contributions to the thriving retailer known for its video games, consumer electronics and wireless services. In fact, GameStop's Grow & Go program, which has now been in full effect for more than a year, was an idea that came from a millennial-aged employee at GameStop. Combine the creativity of one millennial staff member and the traditional knowledge and get-it-done attitude of one Baby Boomer, and GameStop has created a cultivating and welcoming work environment for its employees.

As fall approaches, GameStop is actively recruiting for the holiday season. Although Hirst says the company is always looking for good talent, the push to hire somewhere around 23,000 seasonal employees, maybe more, will get full attention come early October.

From the beginning, the Grow & Go concept has always been part of the mindset at GameStop. "It's a long-time organizational commitment to build relationships of lasting values," Hirst said. GameStop is genuinely passionate in creating a work environment where people feel valued and can develop their talents for future work either at GameStop or some other retailer. Because, as Hirst stresses, keeping good talent helps to harbor long-term customer loyalty.

The Grow & Go mentality applies to all employees at GameStop, whether full-time, temporary for the holidays or the summer season. "We believe it leads to better work there, better work for their next employer," he added. It creates happier and more successful workers that are more capable.

The Grow & Go concept has two principle objectives. First, that better employee engagement leads to greater customer experiences. While customers can buy GameStop products at other retail locations beyond the brand name, it's the positive, employee solutions that keep consumers coming back to the GameStop stores. And second, even seasonal employees remember their experiences.

"The investment we make in them makes happy, lasting memories about our organization," Hirst said. "Seasonal hires or interns come on board full-time, remain loyal customers, or become employees at other organizations."

When any employee comes on board to join to the team, he or she is trained on a technology-based learning platform GameStop refers to as Level Up. The interactive strategy uses things such as points, missions, badges and leader boards to create a game-inspired training experience. Upper-level leadership members then spend time with the new hire, helping him or her to apply what they have learned online. "The technology is an investment in time and people. We frankly think it's a great investment and brings a big return," Hirst said.

After the holidays, GameStop traditionally retains between 10 and 15 percent of its seasonal hires. Hirst points out that the number could be higher as it doesn't take into account employees who have left the company then come back when a long-term opportunity opens up.

Hirst is particularly proud of the number of referrals that come out of the temporary workforce. For example, the retailer hires college interns and 30 percent of the interns return GameStop, 80 percent have expressed interest in returning at some point, and 100 percent said they would absolutely refer GameStop employment to someone else.

As GameStop prepares for the busy selling season, Hirst says there is a chance that seasonal hirings may top 23,000, as it's been a good year for the growing company. Last year, GameStop opened the Technology Institute (GTI), a new business unit focused on improving interactions between shoppers and stores via technology. In 2015, the retailer was named the largest U.S. dealer of AT&T products.

Many of those upcoming hires will be millennials. Hirst estimates that at the store level, about 70 percent of staff are millennials. He sees this demographic as an important part of the multi-generational workforce, each supplying unique value to the organization.

"We build our business in a community that benefits from the work others are doing," Hirst said. "Every organization grows to the degree that they commit to their talent, long-term."

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