Did you know that the average restaurant worker is just 29 years old? As new workers from generation Z join the workplace and millenials (Gen Y) mature and grow into management positions, it’s important for restaurant leaders to understand how to effectively manage workers from different generations to streamline operations and ensure staff have great working experiences.
We explain what each generation is looking to get out of their restaurant jobs, and how to best manage millennials and Generation Z in the workplace to ensure that working in restaurants is seen as a career and not just a pit-stop to their next job.
Millennials at Work: What do millennials expect from restaurant careers?
Do you think your restaurant can survive without millennial employees? Not a chance. In just six years, millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. Restaurant operators must take millennials seriously in order to ensure the future success of their businesses.
Millennials, the generation born roughly between 1981 and 1996, are now transitioning into leadership roles in the restaurant industry as they grow in their careers. While members of this generation have received an unfair share of criticism for their expectations from work, these expectations need to be taken seriously so that older generations can successfully pass on the leadership baton. Here’s what millennials expect from restaurant careers.
- Millennials crave autonomy. Millennials want to be in charge of their work to feel a sense of ownership. They are ready to take on more responsibilities to grow professionally.
- Millennials need meaning behind their work. Millennials are driven by purpose in their professional and personal lives. According to Gabe Hosler of Rubio’s restaurants, “to attract and retain millennials, employers have to have something bigger than themselves, have a cause.” Millennials need to feel like they’re contributing to a larger mission.
- Millennials expect personalized experiences. As restaurant employees, millennials seek information that can help them create personalized relationships with their guests, rather than transactional ones. SevenRooms’ guest data profiles keep track of guests’ dining preferences so that servers can provide their guests with a better experience.
When you understand what millennials want from working in a restaurant, you can better understand how to manage them.
Millennials in the Workplace: How to manage millennial restaurant employees
When you can manage millennial employees in a way that fits their expectations of working at a restaurant, you’ll have happier, more engaged employees who can provide a better guest experience. Here’s how to manage millennial employees at your restaurant.
- Give millennials a chance to show what they can do beyond their titles. Create shadowing and cross-training opportunities for autonomy-craving millennials. When you show millennials that you trust them by not micro-managing them, they’ll be proud to show you and your customers what they can do.
- Emphasize your restaurant’s mission. Share your restaurant’s story to help mission-driven millennials understand what they are working towards.
- Ask for their input. Increase job satisfaction by asking your millennial employees for feedback. With 7shifts’ shift feedback tool, employees can tell you how their shifts went. As the restaurant operator, you can monitor staff sentiment and satisfaction in real-time to identify opportunities to improve operations.
By giving millennials opportunities for professional development, teaching them about your restaurant’s mission, and asking for their input, you’ll have highly-engaged employees who can give you their best work.
Gen Z at Work: What does Gen Z expect from restaurant careers?
While millennials are taking on management roles, Generation Z (born after 1997) is just entering the workplace. So where does Gen Z look for their first jobs? Restaurants!
“82 percent of Gen Z… say a restaurant was their first paid job – that’s a tremendous amount of young people who experience what it’s like to work in our industry,” says Rob Gifford, Executive Vice President of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
Here’s what Gen Z expects from work in restaurants.
- Gen Z expects quick advancement in the workplace. For members of Generation Z in the workplace, working in restaurants is a long-term career path. “Around one-third of them aspire to become restaurant owners, managers, and operators,” the National Restaurant Association explains. In order for these goals to seem achievable, members of Gen Z expect quick advancement. “Over half of Gen Z expect to make more money in the first three months and receive a promotion within the first year,” according to the National Restaurant Association.
- Generation Z seeks a strong workplace culture. Members of Gen Z at work expect their employers to value creating a team culture, rather than just focusing on the tasks at hand. According to the National Restaurant Association, “the top cultural traits found to be important for a Gen Zer’s ideal job include recognition, flexibility and a team atmosphere.”
- Gen Z is data-focused. Data and technology give Gen Z employees information that can help them better perform their jobs. A tool like SevenRooms, which manages restaurant reservations, waitlists, and seating, can save Gen Z employees from spending hours reorganizing seating arrangements so that they can focus on providing guests with the best experience possible.
Understanding what Gen Z expects from the workplace can help you better manage your youngest employees.
Generation Z in the Workplace: How to manage Gen Z restaurant employees
So how do you manage Generation Z in the workplace so that they see their restaurant jobs as long-term careers, rather than just part-time jobs to fund other endeavors? Here are three tips for managing Gen Z at your restaurant.
- Create mentorship opportunities to help your Gen Z employees advance. In a study of Gen Z restaurant workers by the National Restaurant Association, “over 40 percent of Gen Z stated mentors are advantageous to building their confidence and professional skills necessary to advance their careers. 58 percent who have a mentor were in more senior positions compared to 29 percent of those who had never had a mentor.” When you manage members of Gen Z at work, be their mentor, not just their boss.
- Don’t let workplace culture be an afterthought. Make staff meals and other team bonding activities a regular part of your restaurant operations.
- Give your Gen Z employees opportunities for continuous communication. When junior team members feel like they have direct access to managers, they feel like they’re valued members of the team and are empowered to report problems. 7shifts’ communication tool lets restaurant employees and operators communicate with each other on-the-go with a mobile app.
When Gen Zers have mentors, a strong sense of community, and access to their managers, they are empowered to perform at higher levels and more likely to see themselves working in the restaurant industry over the long term.
Why managing and training Generations XYZ effectively is important for your restaurant
As Generations X, Y, and Z begin to work together in restaurants, it’s important for restaurant operators to understand what all of their employees expect from their careers so that they can adjust their management techniques. When millennials and Gen Zers are properly managed, they will see their restaurant jobs as long-term opportunities rather than stepping stones to other careers. With their fresh take on hospitality, Gen Y and Z can receive the baton from Gen X and take the restaurant industry to new heights.