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How to make your Gen Y workforce work for you: Part 1

3 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Restaurant owners and managers often face problems when dealing with Generation Y employees. Attendees at the International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York said they often encounter difficulties with Gen Y workers who are too plugged into technology, lack work ethic or are accustomed to being in an environment in which “everyone gets a trophy.” Sean Finter of Barmetrix addressed these concerns and explained how to find and utilize young employees in the information session “Activating Your Gen Y Workforce.”

In this first installment, I’ll review his tips for finding and hiring the best Gen Y workers.

Be honest about what you’re looking for. Finter encouraged managers to be straightforward and truthful when advertising positions. This might seem obvious, but there are plenty of job descriptions out there that are a lot rosier than the experience workers actually get.

To illustrate his point, Finter referenced an infamous ad placed by explorer Ernest Shackleton when he was looking for a crew to accompany him on a voyage. By placing an ad that promised a dangerous job with almost no hope of safe return, Shackleton heard only from applicants who were prepared for the difficult journey. By being honest about your restaurant’s work environment, you will attract only people who think they are a good fit for your business.

Speak to young workers in their language. One great way to find workers who fit in with your team is to create a video featuring staff members explaining the reason they enjoy working at your restaurant and what about their job specifically appeals to them. This approach is especially smart when attracting Gen Y workers because it utilizes technology that is common among 20- to 30-year-olds. Finter showed a video created by staffers at a Glory Days restaurant location that features several young women explaining that the best part of their work environment is knowing their fellow staffers always have their back when it comes to covering a shift or getting through a tough day.

Don’t be hasty when hiring. Hiring should never be rushed, and Finter recommended that managers build orientation into the process. This allows managers to see before making a final decision how prospective employees perform and how they interact with customers and staff members. Sometimes, this trial period causes managers to change their mind about a candidate, either because the person didn’t live up to expectations or the person surpassed them.

Some things can’t be taught. While any new hire will need to learn the ins and outs of your restaurant, there are some skills that every potential worker should have before filling out an application. Kindness and politeness can’t be learned by reading a manual, and hiring a worker without these skills is a headache waiting to happen. “Are you hiring people and teaching them how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ or are you hiring people that say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’?” Finter said.