Embracing the gap

Not all chains are alike but all are hooked on a common topic that isn’t losing ground in trend circles; understanding the multiple generations as it relates to today, tomorrow and the future of hospitality.

An array of generations are madly co-existing in Hospitality and the two most prevalent are the Baby Boomers who wont give up and the Millennial’s who are focused on “finding themselves” in the same workplace.

Topically, the Millennial mindset is all about Gmail, expensive green juices and Netflix. Many prefer not setting up their voicemails in favor of simply texting a few characters or as of late, emoji’s-only.

This new wave of Millennials are obviously not in a hurry to change the workplace, infact, they would rather earn US$40,000 per year at a job they love vs. US$100,000 at one they despise.

Then there is the optimistic and resilient Baby Boomer who can recall the first moon landing and their first black-and-white television. They tend to live in the past telling endless stories, they are incredibly nostalgic and tend to collect or dare I say, some do hoard. Most say no to tattoos, are tech- savvy as they own a couple of devices and are becoming known for living longer, working harder and retiring later than ever; because they want to!

In the spirit of these ongoing generational conversations trending at every hotel organization imaginable, and with employers and corporations listening more than ever, I have compiled an overview thanks to the countless articles related to the topic online.

Recognizing the habits and learning how to better understand, recruit, co-exist and retain the newer generations into the workplace is much more than a trend; it’s a lifestyle being adopted in most areas of life!

Generation X: Born between 1965-1976 

Sometimes referred to as the “lost” generation, this was the first generation of “latchkey” kids, exposed to lots of daycare and divorce. They are extremely independent, tech-savvy, pragmatic and competent as they are arguably the best educated generation with 29% obtaining a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

This generation strives for the work-life balance lacking in their workaholic Boomer-parents. They tend to change jobs frequently, around every three to five years, and are inclined to be free agents as they distrust corporate motives.

To recruit, retain and motivate X’ers, you must appeal to their desire for balance. Develop family-friendly programs that offer flexible schedules, telecommuting and job-sharing. Encourage their independence and ability to manage multiple priorities.  Remove bureaucracy and tenure-based rewards, but don’t remove yourself because Xers crave feedback- especially from their boss.

Spend one-on-one time with these employees to create relationships and foster trust. Emphasize their accomplishments and results rather than the methods they opted to use to achieve them. Include them in decision-making as they are excellent problem-solvers.

Finally, if you want something done, give it to an X’er. They’ve been self-managing from a young age and will not let you down. 

Generation Y (aka The Millennials): Born between 1977-1994

Millennial’s are the 54 million adult Americans aged between 18 and 34, (in 2015), and now make up one third of the American workforce which is the largest age group to emerge since the Baby Boomers. As this group grows significantly, (which it is), employers will need to make major adjustments in the workplace.

These digital natives grew up in the shadow of September 11 and the Great Recession and were often raised in single parent families and have been involved in family purchases…everything from groceries to new cars.  One in nine Gen Y’ers has a credit card co-signed by a parent.

Millennial’s can be higher in maintenance, but most agree they have more potential than previous generations.  Millennial’s are well educated, self-confident, able to multi-task, and have plenty of energy. They have high expectations for themselves, and prefer to work in teams, rather than as individuals. They are beyond technology savvy – they’re technology-sophisticated so offer the latest in technology. 

Millennial’s seek challenges, yet work life balance is of the utmost of importance to them.  To retain them, be prepared to offer flexibility and fun. Short sabbaticals to pursue personal interests is a very attractive benefit.

They are very much aware their need for social interaction, immediate results in the workplace, and desire for speedy advancement is often seen as a weakness by older colleagues. And finally, they very much value “good corporate citizens” so support their causes and allow employees to contribute and participate with them.

Trends come and go but the topic of managing multiple and younger generation’s isn’t a cakewalk nor is it going to disappear overnight. I am by no means an expert on the topic but I am sure most would agree we are all living within a radical lifestyle shift that can be managed once “the values” of the new generations are recognized.

Accepting a different work ethic isn’t necessarily an inferior work ethic. It’s more about embracing and leveraging the positive. Do you agree?