Millennials: A valuable resource and driving force of the hospitality

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by Bhavesh Patel
AAHOA Chairman (2017-2018)

It is no secret that jobs in the hospitality industry are often perceived as being fraught with long, irregular hours, minimal pay, high turnover, limited career advancement and lower status. This can dampen a hotelier’s ability to attract and retain top quality employees.

But it doesn’t have to. Today, millennials make up 75 percent of the workforce, and their needs and desires as the youngest and largest group of working professionals is something that employers can and should be mindful of from the hiring process throughout an individual’s career.

Study after study has shown that passion – not paychecks – drives this group of employees. They are looking for work environments that are flexible and work/life friendly, collaborative, personally gratifying, and primed for innovation and growth.

To say that work/life balance is important to millennials is an understatement. They are the least likely of all the generations to compromise on this critical lifestyle element. But, they will go above and beyond for a job that gives them the flexibility to meld their personal lives with professional growth and an opportunity to give back to the community.

Why? Because they want to be a part of something greater. Millennials frequently seek out the innovators in whatever career field they’ve chosen to go into. They want to join companies that strive to make a difference in the community and in the world. In the hospitality industry, sustainable and eco-positive operations, a clear commitment to human trafficking prevention and active engagement in the local community are just a few ways employers can demonstrate how much personal values matter.

Millennials also look for employers that offer profuse encouragement and support. For example, most expect more than a subordinate relationship with their supervisor; they want a mentor. They look for someone who will show them the ropes, be supportive of and contribute to their personal development. Successful employers might consider establishing a mentoring program (AAHOA recently launched one of these; check online for more information), provide training upon hiring, and offer multiple opportunities for professional development throughout their employees’ careers.

It is a well-known myth that millennials job hop more than previous generations. The reality is, as long as they are able to hone their skills without becoming stagnant, they are more than likely to stay loyal to their employer, especially when their other vocational needs are being met.

Employers who make sure, when hiring, to look at what an individual brings to the table now and what they could offer later on when hiring will do well to retain quality employees. It saves money, time and effort to bring in someone based on their current and future potential and trainability. An employee who starts their career in an entry-level position and works their way up will be more intrinsically motivated to see the business succeed than someone who is brought it new at a higher-level position.

Last but not least, we all know that being social is the millennial’s bread and butter. Most of them have a strong desire to establish meaningful interactions with others in both their personal lives and their careers, which makes them an ideal fit for the hospitality industry. A hiring manager who looks for ways to promote socially conscious values, purpose-driven work, corporate innovation, open/accessible management and personal connection on the jobsite will appeal to the brightest and best of the millennial workforce.

For more tips and ideas on how to draw in the millennial generation, listen to the “Five Things to Know About Millennial Workers” webcast, available online for free in the AAHOA Resource Library.

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