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Gen Z Is Ready To Work — But They Need More Than Just a Paycheck

Digital shortcuts are quickly substituting human interaction, but that won’t fly with the youngest members of America’s workforce.

Gen Zers’ priorities start with their identity and mental health, not their wallets. This generation represents the next wave of potential employees, so acknowledging the demographic on a more meaningful level holds the key to building a new era in hospitality.

In a survey of over 1,700 Gen Z workers, research and design consultancy company Deloitte Digital reveals that there are many areas in which this age group disagrees with their supervisors about what matters at work. The report indicates that supervisors and those they lead do not see eye-to-eye on quite a few issues, including the handling of “working relationships” and prioritizing “workplace flexibility.”

It’s clear that these young applicants — most of whom are filling essential entry level positions — crave a type of payment that doesn’t have to cost much at all. They just want to feel wanted.

Some extra time, attention, and effort is all it might take for managers to mold younger employees into enthusiastic learners that are eager to take pride in their work duties. The post-millennial crew needs to feel like they matter, that they belong, and that their mental state is top priority.

Here’s how to get Gen Z excited about working for you.

Provide resources for mental health

Offering mental health services may cost more upfront, but it can save big in terms of employee retention and long-term benefits. Both brand image and the human beings working for that brand will appreciate the attention paid to this prevalent issue.

But Gen Z says mental health is the topic they most disagree with management on. Younger employees need support. When they get enough support at work and their concerns are addressed in a supportive manner, Gen Z workers are six times “more likely to agree that work has a positive effect on their mental health.” This serves as a starting point for motivated service and healthy employees.

Some simple ways to support mental health can include setting up a section in the break room that allows for relaxation and breathing. Cleveland Clinic, Memorial Regional, and many other hospitals employ a Code Lavender that nurses and staff can call when they’re overloaded with stress. It implements an immediate break system and cart with supplies to help regain focus and calm.

Managers should always make sure employees get breaks without having to beg for them. Skimping on labor to make a bonus will mean lots of employee turnover — and that won’t look good down the road.

Fulfill a sense of purpose and identity

Deloitte’s research reveals that 6 in 10 Gen Z employees “feel that work is a significant part of their identity.” More than 8 in 10 bosses say the same. So why isn’t this addressed more in the hospitality industry’s entry level positions?

Hospitality workers fill service roles that are already loaded with purpose. Making people feel special is a satisfying labor of love if done with the right mindset and can-do attitude. It’s up to managers to highlight these aspects of the job.

Address individual talents and big dreams. Ask about what employees are majoring in at school, and find ways to include those academic interests into work tasks. Someone studying communication or event management? Allow them to lead team meetings, present information to staff, and help with scheduling and special events. Is there a musician in your ranks? Why not offer a live music night for guests and feature them?

Everyone is built for something — and it should be utilized in what they’re already doing! There’s a place in hospitality for athletes, artists, and beyond.

Consider interactions on a deeper level

This is one of those rare times where it’s advised to make it personal at work (of course while enforcing necessary professional boundaries).

In a tech-heavy age, younger people actually crave interaction, connection, and attention more than ever. It’s important to Gen Zers that managers make them feel noticed. This can be as simple as acknowledging if they look down, or making conversation about the latest TV shows they’ve been watching. A little bit goes a long way.

One in three Gen Zers claim their managers (along with the company they work for) don’t care about their wellbeing. This is scary considering that Gen Z votes empathy as the second most important character trait they seek in a supervisor.

But it’s not difficult to create connections. Build personal relationships by getting to know staff. Ask questions, find out what people care about and what drives them, and build on that information. Forming a sense of community through company outings, brainstorm sessions, or simply reaching out to see if everything’s okay can mean everything to someone, and that happiness feeds directly into job performance in every way imaginable.

A new day in hospitality

It’s expensive to hire and train new employees, and it’s painful to lose them for reasons that could have easily been avoided with some forethought.

Guests know when employees aren’t happy, so it’s in the best interest of guests and staff alike to switch things up and adapt to the ever-changing workforce. People 27 years of age and younger will most likely fill entry level positions, and many of those first jobs begin in the service industry. But these first jobs can turn into lifelong careers if people are given the right support.

Attract, retain, and mold the best of the best by engaging the mind, body, and soul. The results will bring peace and synergy not only to those just starting out, but also to those who’ve been around a while, as well.