Publix Super Markets is consistently recognized as a top place to work and was recently ranked among some of Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Millennials. Manager of Talent Acquisition Marcy Hamrick and Employment Branding Specialist Jazmyn Mijuskovic talked to us about how Publix attracts millennial talent and what strategies they employ to keep younger generations engaged.
Publix focuses on employing individuals within every generation, but Millennials have become an especially important target.
“Millennials are the largest group in the employment space right now,” Marcy said. “So we need to make sure our advertising and employment brand is relevant to that group.”
Jazmyn said it’s important to make an extra effort to appeal to Millennials and Gen Z because those groups’ values are different than what Publix has traditionally been successful in recruiting for.
“When most people think about a career at Publix, they think about the long-term benefits, stock options, and retirement and insurance plans,” Jazmyn said. “While some Millennials might appreciate long-term benefits, they place a higher value on aspects like culture, opportunities for growth, and innovation. We need to make sure we’re advertising holistically in a way that shows there is something for everyone at Publix.”
According to Marcy, Publix has associate programs that directly address Millennial needs and values.
“We recognize that individuals want to continue developing themselves throughout their careers,” said Marcy. “And a lot of our associates joined us when they were in high school.”
She said they provide a tuition reimbursement program that allows them to invest in their associates. This benefit drives engagement from Millennials as well as individuals from other generations who may not have attended college directly after high school.
Outside of tuition reimbursement, they also offer GED reimbursement and information about adult education classes. “Whatever someone’s circumstances, we give them the opportunity to pursue a high school diploma.”
From a marketing standpoint, Jazmyn emphasized the importance of incorporating testimonials as a way to appeal to Millennial and Gen Z talent.
“Both groups like to hear from real people,” she said. “Instead of just telling people, testimonials allow us to show them what Publix has to offer.”
Jazmyn said Millennials are more likely to read blocks of text if the information is valuable, while Gen Z tends to be more drawn to videos — so, the team showcases associate testimonials in their blog series and incorporates videos and across their social channels.
Jazmyn dedicates a lot of time to selecting testimonials that truly represent Publix and its values.
“We employ over 200,000 people, and we like to make sure we’re getting a healthy representation of not just job title, but also age, race, ethnicity, and gender,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re showcasing the fact that we are an equal opportunity employer and appropriately represent the Publix brand.”
According to Jazmyn, considering all the factors and the size of the associate population, it’s difficult to find people without the help of other teams. “Our HR representatives and senior leaders get with their management teams and let us know who on their individual teams they’d recommend to represent whatever Publix is looking to showcase for each testimonial,” she said.
While putting together a testimonials series for the blog, Jazmyn reached out to their retail recruiters to help choose people with interesting career paths who would resonate with audiences.
“I like to use testimonials that prove a lot of preconceived notions about Publix wrong,” she said. “A lot of people who make lifelong careers at Publix get their start through entry-level positions and later grow into their dream jobs. They’re not settling for something less than they want at the beginning, they’re setting themselves up for long-term success.”
Jazmyn said social media and word of mouth marketing are essential in building their reputation among younger generations.
The team strategically chooses specific social channels and types of imaging to resonate with millennial talent. Jazmyn added every blog post she writes includes a testimonial.
“Once you’re in Publix, you start to catch on to the culture, and when people come to work here, they tend to stay,” she said. “But getting people in the door is becoming increasingly harder because of the market and how small the labor pool is. People know Publix is a great place to work but they don’t know why. So showcasing the ‘why’ through social media is huge.”
According to Jazmyn, many of their associates act as brand ambassadors and help perpetuate Publix’s culture through word of mouth on and off social media.
Marcy and Jazmyn also collaborate with the internal communications team to leverage awards in their talent marketing strategy.
“Anytime we can leverage awards like the Fortune Best Workplaces for Millennials ranking, it’s beneficial,” Marcy said. She said they’ve been on the list in years past, but they don’t always purchase the logo to use in their marketing.
However, they often develop campaigns with their internal communications, social media-branded outlets, and public relations groups to highlight awards. “We want to make sure we’re letting job seekers know when we’ve achieved an award, and it becomes a much larger type of recognition when we leverage it in that way,” she said.
The teams work collaboratively so each group has visibility into the others’ content to stay in alignment.
“The campaigns go through a review process to ensure all the facts are accurate and well represented, but also to make sure we have enough difference with each group’s social and blog posts so it’s not repetitive,” said Marcy.
Their corporate communications team then helps get the word across the organization through email and the associate portal.
“The different teams all have their own goals, and our approach is always a bit different, but from a brand standpoint, it’s important that we share cohesive and consistent messaging,” Jazmyn said.
Publix has been named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For since its inception — more than two decades.
With each award, Marcy and Jazmyn’s team works to evolve how they share that story and make it relevant to millennials.
“We can’t rely on our brand to speak for itself anymore because the job market is so tight, so when it comes to these awards, we have to find our voice and share it in a way that’s in alignment with our company brand,” Marcy said.
To do that, Marcy said it’s important to find the things about your organization that appeal to specific generational groups and leverage them.
“Share those stories, not from a corporate perspective, but from an individual perspective,” Marcy said. “It’s the voices of your associates that will make your company stories relevant.”
She said it could be anything from the company’s community service and sustainability efforts to just finding the larger function of an individual associate’s role. “For example, you could find a cashier and share how they’re able to make customers’ days better,” she said. “Share those types of things in a way that’s relevant to a Millennial and they’ll be able to identify with that associate and get a better understanding of where they could fit within the organization.”