What’s in it for us?

Dale J. Venturini
President/CEO, RI Hospitality Association

There are approximately 73 million millennials – people born between 1980 and 2000 – in the world, and by 2020, it is estimated that they will make up 40 to 50 percent of the world’s entire workforce. Over time, it is becoming more apparent that millennials as a whole are less inclined to declare their allegiance to institutions such as religion and other community-based organizations, but more so to ideas and values. Many millennials are now turning to their work to provide them with a sense of comradery and community. Millennials want their work to serve a purpose: they are interested in personal development and want to have an open dialogue with their employer regarding their performance, strengths, and contributions. With all of that being said, how do these new millennial-centric workplace trends affect the future of the hospitality industry?

In this day and age of workforce challenges, it is imperative that hospitality businesses optimize the workplace to attract millennial-aged employees. This means providing increased opportunity for career progression and by offering competitive wages, a strong set of benefits and retirement options, and by encouraging and maintaining a positive and inspiring company culture. According to a recent study by SRQ Magazine, an astounding 70 percent of people who graduate from college with “hospitality degrees” resign from their jobs, oftentimes to pursue an education in a completely different career path. In the same study, results showed that the hospitality industry’s top perk for millennials is comradery amongst employees, while the least enticing qualities include poor relationships with managers, low or inconsistent pay and the prestige of the profession. It is apparent that millennials are highly concerned with company culture. To improve employee engagement, businesses within the hospitality industry must provide consistent feedback on performance, cultivate an environment in which strong relationships amongst coworkers are fostered, and instill a sense of purpose in employees.

One of the main draws our industry can offer millennial workers is a healthy work/life balance. Between tailored schedules and flexible hours, millennials working in the hospitality industry are given more of an opportunity to pursue passions, further their education and enjoy a busy social life when compared to their 9-to-5 counterparts. The nontraditional work schedule of a hospitality worker suits those interested in a work-to-play lifestyle, those who have aspirations of starting their own businesses and for those who want to hold down multiple jobs, whether it be playing part-time in a band or holding down multiple restaurant gigs. When we think of a millennial-aged hospitality worker, we tend to think of a college student waiting tables to secure a little extra spending money. What is a realistic example, though, is a young man or woman who works as a bartender at night and saves up their earnings so that they can afford to further their education by day. These motivated young men and women are the lifeblood of our industry.

Here at the RI Hospitality Association, we seek to stay informed about the trends that we see affecting our members’ businesses in the long-run. With a lack of qualified staffing being a perpetual issue amongst hospitality businesses across the state, it is imperative that business owners do whatever is necessary to attract and retain millennial-aged workers. Whether it be revamping outdated operating procedures, providing hands-on training and feedback to young employees or working to establish a company culture in which employees can take pride, our members must do whatever they can to keep up with the times, otherwise they may just become a thing of the past.