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Tag Archives: Generation Y

Managing the Millennial Hospitality Employee

The millennial hospitality employee is shaping the industry. Generation Y, commonly referred to as “millennials,” comprise the roughly 80 million people who were born between 1976 and 2001. A great deal has been written about this unique generation that has grown up immersed in a world of technology and social media: they are frequently stereotyped as self-involved with a strong sense of entitlement, coddled, and even labeled “Generation me.” Regardless of whether these frequently bandied about assertions are true, in the next few years, millennials will make up approximately 40% of the U.S. population. In the hospitality industry, this means not only tailoring and reshaping services to accommodate millennials, but also recognizing that an increasing percentage of hotel and restaurant employees are currently, or will be, part of this generation. Notwithstanding the likelihood that millennials will flock to this robust, growing industry, it only makes sense that hotel and restaurant employers would be actively looking to hire employees who mirror their customer base.

In terms of attracting and hiring millennials, employers should be mindful that this is a generation that fully embraces technology. Thus, job descriptions should always be listed online, and posts should be creative and convey sufficient information about a company’s culture and career path opportunities. Millennials seek employment where they perceive they will be doing meaningful work, and care a great deal about the environment and sustainability. They are the most ethnically diverse workforce to date. In terms of motivation and training, millennials seek constant feedback, and prefer to be coached rather than managed. They tend to change jobs frequently, want flexibility with their schedules and are reticent to embrace a traditionally typical work shift, or work day.

While employers will want to take certain considerations into account when recruiting and retaining new millennial talent, management should be cognizant of the potential legal implications of unwittingly kowtowing to some of these employees’ most common workplace expectations.

Do Your Due Diligence

Social Media Policies:

While it is important to embrace technology, hospitality employers need to implement clear, specific social media policies.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that most social media policies are overly broad and unlawful. Social media policies cannot constrict free speech, or chill an employee’s right to organize.  Thus, if your employee takes to LinkedIn or Facebook to complain about what he or she perceives to be an unfair work policy, it is considered protected speech and cannot be retaliated against.  Further, many companies have internal online job boards where employees can share information, and post video clips.  Hospitality management should be clear regarding what constitutes an appropriate post.

Diversity:

While having a diverse workforce is optimum, hospitality management needs to ensure that they are providing routine training on harassment and discrimination in the workplace.  There should be a clear anti-harassment policy disseminated and explained, and employers should keep up with changes in the law regarding religious discrimination.

Flexible Work Schedules:

Veering away from standard shifts in the hospitality industry can potentially lead to problems. Hotel and restaurant management face off-the-clock exposure, and unorthodox schedules could also make it difficult to track hours.  Overtime, meal and rest break violations are fertile ground for class action lawsuits, and employers should be careful to keep accurate records with their time sheets and payroll.

Managing Versus Coaching, Consistent Feedback: 

Written documentation is imperative when it comes to employee feedback.  Hospitality management should treat all feedback as if it were a performance review, and document all comments noting both exemplary and poor performances.  Further, millennials want to be promoted quickly, so be careful not to make promises you cannot keep if you are commending an employee’s work.

Job Hopping:

Hospitality employers need to continue to recruit, harness and retain talent, while acknowledging that most members of this generation change jobs quite regularly.  Hence, it’s important to have solid confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements in place to protect trade secrets and prevent improper customer solicitation, should an employee leave to work for a competitor.

Providing Access to Information, Knowledge Sharing:

Millennials want to be in the know, and crave transparency.  This means hospitality employers should ensure they are taking the proper steps to protect their businesses should their employees be given access to sensitive, confidential information.

Continuing Education Policies:

Those hotels and restaurants that offer continuing education in hospitality management for interested employees need to ensure that these policies do not have a discriminatory impact on a protected class of employee.

Job Security:

Ironically, despite the fact that they tend to change jobs often, millennials have an expectation of job security.  Management should always convey from the outset that the employer-employee relationship is “at-will” and can be terminated at any time, and for any reason.

As it continues to experience significant growth, hospitality will remain an exciting, cutting-edge industry that continues to attract talented individuals. While managing millennials will certainly require an adjustment in approach for traditional-minded hotel and restaurant owners, it is worth the effort, as this generation houses an arsenal of creative and innovative talent. Learning how to get the most out of working with millennials, while being mindful of the potential legal downfalls, will help your hotel or restaurant strike a healthy balance.