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Generation Y as Hospality Employees: An examination of work attitude differences

Generation Y as Hospality Employees: An examination of work attitude differences

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Published by Pablo Alarcón
Generation Y as Hospality Employees: An examination of work attitude differences. David Solnet, Anna Hood. University of Queensland. 2011.
Generation Y as Hospality Employees: An examination of work attitude differences. David Solnet, Anna Hood. University of Queensland. 2011.

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Published by: Pablo Alarcón on Feb 28, 2012
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Gen Y places great value on friendships,
co-worker relationships and trust,
and they thrive on working together
to achieve goals. Does your business

have a statement of ‘values’? Establish

some if you don’t already have any! if
your employees were anonymously
surveyed, would they sense that the
work environment was one which cared

for the well being of the employees?

the culture of an organisation – the
environment (physical, procedural and
social) that the employee experiences
while at work – plays a large part in
determining employee attitudes. Does
your company’s culture send messages


Macey, W.H., Schneider, B., Barbera, K.M. & Young, S.A.
(2009). Employee engagement: Tools for analysis, practice, and
competitive advantage. West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.


Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS


An exAminAtion of work attitude differences

“Following careful recruitment,
the orientation and socialisation
of new employees is crucial.”


Michelli, J. A. (2008). The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary
Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. New York, McGraw-Hill.

to your employees that they are valued
and respected? it is one thing to say you
value and respect your employees, but
policies and actions that are not aligned
with these principles will undermine
such statements and send the opposite
message to the staff.

to encourage and support teamwork,
form teams and base some measures
on team performance wherever possible.
for instance, an incentive system could
reward individual performance (e.g.
total sales per hour) while at the same
time providing incentives for the unit
as a whole when customer satisfaction
targets are achieved. Always know your
company’s attitudinal ‘undercurrent’
and for Gen Y, the more nurturing and
collaborative, the better.

Again, an in-depth discussion of
organisational culture is not possible
in this report. Although there are many
seminal texts on organisational culture
(most notably that of edgar Schein),
for interested readers we recommend
a more relevant and practical book
for hospitality owners and managers
– “A new Gold Standard”32

. this
book examines the philosophies and
strategies of the Ritz-Carlton hotel
company that have been instrumental
in the creation of its world-renowned
company culture.

4. encourage opportunities
for learning and growth
through challenging

Gen Y places high value on learning
and development. they bore easily and
crave employers that offer perks such as
tuition reimbursement, sabbaticals, and

other growth and training opportunities.
obviously, these aren’t things that some
hospitality businesses (other than the
very large multinationals) can afford,
so focus on what you can do. formal
training and development programs
aside, there are frequent opportunities
for learning and growth within the
hospitality workplace that often go
ignored. most seasoned hospitality
professionals take their own level of
knowledge for granted. Ask yourself:
“What business activities can i involve
my staff in so that they can learn and
grow professionally?” Understanding
par levels, placing stock orders, learning
to read and understand fnancial
fash reports – all of these seemingly
mundane tasks can be a world of
learning for an inexperienced employee
that they might not otherwise be
exposed to in their primary role.

it will also pay dividends to do an
honest appraisal of your training budget.
Small but consistent investment in
training programs will pay long-term
dividends not only in employee loyalty
but also in their levels of commitment
and engagement. Remember that all
great hospitality companies never view
training as a ‘good times only’ expense.
Rather, training and staff development
become the nutrients needed for a
healthy and sustainable workforce.

Like it or not, Gen Y views itself as
equal to older employees. in their eyes,
their contribution is just as valuable as
anyone else’s, regardless of previous
experience. they will not see it as fair
that they have to do a particular task
just because they are new (that’s right,
you’re going to have to fnd a new
rationale for who has to remove the
chewing gum from under the tables!).

they dislike being handed the ‘grunt’
jobs, or jobs in which they have to
‘pay their dues’. they seek challenging
work right from the start. once
work ceases to be a challenge, new
experiences and learning opportunities
will need to be found. Plan ahead so
as to not be caught ill-prepared. And
always remember that Gen Y is easily
distracted! multitasking is like breathing
to these employees. You’ll need to be on
the ball to keep them involved, with new
and challenging tasks, so that they do
not lose interest.

5. do not to assume that
gen Y has had the same
‘home training’ as past

Perhaps due to their reliance on
technology, this generational group
seems to be a bit behind in face-
to-face communication skills. What
used to be ‘good home training’ is not
necessarily true for this generation.
this issue is particularly relevant for
heavy face-to-face contact positions.
Role play training and etiquette
practice for service employees who
are going to be in regular contact with
customers (especially older customers)
is more necessary than you might
think! Customer dissatisfaction aside,
awkward and embarrassing interactions
with customers might be enough to turn
a Gen Y employee off their job. many
of these experiences can be avoided
by giving the employee more insight
into what it is that each customer is

Supervisors should be given appropriate
training and support to develop the skills
necessary to deal with the intricacies


Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

“…communicating with
your employees in their own
‘language’ will help to engage
your Gen Y employees.”


Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding

the frst generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books.

of managing people. the internal
career path of ‘stepping up’ from
server to supervisor that is common
in the industry is excellent for career
progression, yet too often lacks the

associated training required in the

new set of necessary skills. Gen Y
employees will look to their supervisors

for role models and will often equate

(as customers do) the treatment
they receive from the supervisor as
coming from the organisation. A poor
experience with an inexperienced and
untrained supervisor could lose you a
valued frontline employee.

6. Get out of deniaL! use
technoLoGY to imProve
communication with
Your staff

it’s time to get out of technology denial
– that thought that ‘if i just ignore it, it will
go away’! Unlike many of the hospitality
‘old school’, Gen Y employees take
electronic collaboration for granted.
Wherever possible, use a technological
platform to provide company information
and training modules to employees - but
make sure it works and is not slow and
frustrating to use. obviously size and
resources will determine the extent to
which information technology can be
used to enhance a business, but there
are ways that small companies can
better utilise electronic communication
without great expense. tap into the way
your Gen Y employees communicate
with each other. Can important memos
or announcements be shortened to ft

into a computer-generated SMS? Can

you ‘advertise’ today’s shifts through
one facebook message to all available


Creating a social media presence and
communicating with your employees in
their own ‘language’ will help to engage
your Gen Y employees. With a little
innovation, it is possible to tweak these
platforms to get the employees to start
building ‘hype’ about your business
– which amounts to free advertising.
Although the smaller business operators
reading this might think it beyond
their scope, the reality is that social
media sites are a free service. time in
administering such sites is obviously an
issue, but this can be a responsibility
you give to a trusted and eager Gen Y

in addition to these communication
platforms, review your policies about
using mobile technology at work –
consider loosening the rules a bit. for
you, using mobile phones to send text
messages and checking facebook
while at work is disrespectful, but to
Gen Y, it’s part of living. Consider this:
a survey in the US found that a great
majority of Gen Y employees would take
a job with less pay than their current
one if it allowed them greater use of
mobile devices while at work. Some
companies today allow a certain number
of minutes per day to surf the net and
do emailing, etc. Although this may not
always ft within the cost restraints of a

hospitality operation, refect on how this

concept might be adapted to ft your

business. Allowing employees to quickly

check and respond to texts in their
downtime, within reasonable boundaries
(there are no immediate customer
needs to serve, etc.), is fast becoming a
necessary concession to make in order
to keep Gen Y employees motivated
and focused. if your business has a
break room, putting a computer in there

(nothing fash, an old one or a cheap

new one) so your staff can stay in touch
before their shift and on their breaks will
be well received.

there are many interesting books and
articles available which provide insights
into the way technology is used to
communicate both personally and in
the workplace. As a good example, we
suggest “Born Digital: Understanding
the first Generation of Digital natives”33


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