Foodservice Millenials: The Post-Gen X Workforce

There is a recently completed study on the work habits of Millennials that might surprise employers. The study was done by MTV, and before you shrug it off, think — who better to get honest feedback from a younger generation?

Let’s examine the results as they apply to foodservice and the upcoming restaurant workforce.

 

Culture

In a briefing with MediaDailyNews, Nick Shore, senior vice president-strategic insights and research at MTV, said, “[Millennials] have a strong worth ethic, and in some ways, integrate their work lives with their personal lives in an even bigger way than Boomers have.”

 

What would lead him to this conclusion? Study results showed 93 percent of Millennials are looking for a job that fits with their lifestyle. It is a fact that the young people of today grow up surrounded by a high-speed, social culture. Is your restaurant tapping into that energy? Eighty-nine percent of Millennials responded that they want a workplace that is “social and fun.” To highlight the significance of that stat, only 60 percent of Baby Boomers have the same mentality.

 

Engagement

Gen X is often stereotyped as disconnected, entitled or apathetic. However, to confuse the Milllenials (also known as Gen Y) with the previous generation is a mistake.  The newest generation of workers are always looking for ways to engage, improve and advance. Three-quarters of Millenials would appreciate having a mentor at work. This is not just someone who trains them to bus or wait tables, but an active mentor who helps them develop their career. (It is important to note that 82 percent of Hispanic Millennials, a critical demographic for foodservice.)

 

It’s important for the employee and their mentor to connect socially to build an interactive foundation in their work life. This ties in closely to the fact that Gen Y feels they need specific directions from their boss to do their best work. It’s not that this generation lacks independence or drive, but they are looking for the path to success. In fact, a whopping 89 percent of Millennials think it is important to be constantly learning on their job.

 

Recognition

In the past, many restaurants glaze over performance reviews. However, for Millennial hires the study shows eight out of 10 prefer regular feedback from their supervisors, with over 50 percent wanting feedback at least once a week if not more frequently.

 

With high turnover rates, not every foodservice employee makes it to an annual evaluation, and it’s assumed those who do typically know what they are doing. In his interview MTV’s Shore made the observation, “Millennials are like, ‘Can you give me daily reviews?’ Their drive to self-improve is extremely high, and it reflects the world they grew up in, because they’re in a constant feedback loop.”

 

Technology

Technology is one of the biggest differentiators for Gen Y. They are the first generation to grow up with consistent access to high-speed Internet, social media, e-commerce and interactive digital media. Eighty-five percent of Millennials think their mastery of technology makes them faster than their older coworkers. And two-thirds of this generation thinks they should mentor older co-workers on technology used in the workplace.

 

It’s no longer a question of “should” technology be used in foodservice; but, in what ways can we incorporate technology to streamline operations. Millennials are bringing a technology-infused work mentality to foodservice. Innovative, competitive restaurants will let this generation help guide the way into modernizing practices.

 

Age or Evolution

In Peter Cappelli’s Human Resources Executive Online article Enough with the Generation Studies, he focused less on a generational difference, and more on the difference in age. Cappelli said, “Trying to make your organization adjust to the needs and interests of current 20-year-olds is a fool’s errand because they are going to change.” However, the foodservice world and the corporate office world have one major differentiator in workforces. High turnover in foodservice often means its workforce stays young.

 

To maintain competitive hiring practices, restaurants have to stay up-to-date in HR practices. From technological advancements to work/life balance, your restaurant’s recruitment and retention rates reflect your ability to offer the most “in touch” atmosphere to your employees. 

Look around you — marketing, sales, services, media — these are all industries that adapt with each generation. Foodservice is constantly going through evolutions and trends: wraps are “in,” then burritos; cupcakes are hot, then doughnuts; home-style décor, then utilitarian layouts. You can’t style on top of every ‘hot trend,’ but you can keep up with the times when it comes to HR. In the end it comes down to one important conviction: your people matter.

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Tags: Gen, HR, Millenial, X, Y, culture, engagement, hiring, recognition, technology, More…training

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Comment by Amy on May 29, 2012 at 1:19pm

Exactly! This fresh generation coming into the workforce has need for us to adapt and get them engaged in their work. Like Vickie said, we need to retain and develop these younger employees. They have so much to offer and they just need to be communicated to in a way they understand. I think there are some management concerns that arise from all this change being brought into the workplace by the Millennials. We are studying the challenges managers are facing with the younger generation, and we are surveying managers. If you would like to participate, visit http://www.redtreeleadership.com/millennials/MillennialResearch.html and click on the "GRI." 

Comment by Vickie Frisbie on May 23, 2012 at 3:32pm

I love this article...you get it...people matter! And engaging them is where it all starts from the application process to onboarding to developing and retaining them...nothing is more important than reaching people how they want to be reached. People work for people. It's that simple!

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