Generation Y as hospitalitY industrY emploYees

An examination of work attitude differences

UQ School of Tourism
The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Australia’s premier learning and research institutions and is ranked among the world’s top 50 Universities. It is the oldest university in Queensland and has over 40,000 students currently enrolled. UQ is a founding member of the elite Group of Eight (Go8), a coalition of leading Australian universities, intensive in research and comprehensive in general and professional education. Nested in the faculty of Business, Economics and Law, the UQ School of Tourism (UQST) is the earliest established university tourism school in Australia, and is the only dedicated tourism school within the Go8. The UQST is the only University School in Australia to be TedQual accredited by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). With over 700 students studying under- and post-graduate programs in tourism, hospitality and event management, the UQST is recognised, both nationally and internationally, as a leading centre of research with close links to government and industry. An impressive list of academic staff actively publish their research in the world’s top journals in tourism, hospitality and related fields and are often called upon to speak both nationally and internationally, and consult on tourism and related matters. For more information, go to www.uq.edu.au

Hospitality Training Association
The Hospitality Training Association Inc (HTA) has been serving the needs of the hospitality industry for over twenty years. HTA brings together the combined experience and knowledge of the five major associations that are the driving force behind the tourism and hospitality industries in Queensland, Australia: the Hotel Motel & Accommodation Association; Clubs Queensland; the Restaurant & Catering Association of Queensland; the Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Union; and the Queensland Hotels Association. Developed to support these associations with specialised training in each of their areas of discipline and expertise, HTA has assisted thousands of young people establish careers in hospitality and tourism. Through the provision of short courses, certificates and diploma qualifications, HTA College provides nationally and internationally recognised training in all facets of tourism and hospitality. Situated close to the city-centre in Fortitude Valley, HTA's training facilities include three commercial kitchens, a pastry lab, two restaurants, a cocktail/lounge bar, and multimedia-equipped training rooms. For more information, go to www.hta.org.au

Acknowledgement: Hotel room photo on front cover courtesy of Hilton Hotels and Resorts

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dear reader, this report emanates from a close working partnership between our respective institutions. We have found great synergies between the Hospitality training Association – a world class private training organisation – and the School of tourism at the University of Queensland – ranked among the world’s top 50 Universities. this report represents one of a number of collaborative projects born out of our cooperation. Here, we present the results of a research project that had its beginnings as an industry problem: the challenges of, and the need to gain a better understanding about ‘Generation Y’ as hospitality industry employees. once this need was identified, a comprehensive and robust research program was designed and is detailed in this report. (note: We would also like to acknowledge the contribution made to this project by Dr Paul Barron who has since relocated to napier University in Scotland. Paul was a part of the original research team and was integral in the formation and early stages of the research project.) the research design for this project included: • a comprehensive review of all the relevant past research undertaken regarding generational differences in workforce attitudes; • focus groups to flesh out the key issues; • the selection of key employee criteria most valuable in terms of understanding differences across generational groups; • the creation of a questionnaire designed to capture actual employee attitudes; • the collection of data across different sectors of the hospitality industry in Queensland; • a comprehensive and statistically robust analysis of the data; • some practical suggestions about how to interpret and use the data. Long before this project commenced, it became obvious to many that employee motivation, learning styles, expectations, performance and other related factors vary for one or more of many possible reasons (generational grouping, gender, department, occupation etc.). to date, however, little scientific evidence has been gathered to review these differences and to gain a full understanding of them, especially as they pertain to the hospitality industry. We hope you find this report useful, and we welcome comments and feedback.

Regards,

Philip charlton chief executive officer Hospitality training Association Email: phillip.c@hta.org.au

dr david solnet Generation Y research Project Leader University of Queensland, School of tourism Email: david.solnet@uq.edu.au

An exAminAtion of work attitude differences

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executive Summary

employment in the hospitality industry can be viewed on two sides of the same coin. on the up side, hospitality is a global industry, presenting boundless career opportunities, a chance to work nearly anywhere in the world, and it is fast-paced, dynamic and exciting. on the down side, the industry has long been tested by issues related to the attraction, motivation and retention of well-suited employees. many of these issues stem from the inherent characteristics and conditions of the industry – e.g. intense people-topeople interactions, anti-social working hours, and a poor reputation as a longterm career option. there are prominent examples of hospitality organisations around the globe that have sought to combat some of these common issues, although even they have been challenged by the latest human resource issue to confront the industry – the entrance of Generation Y (Gen Y) as the newest cohort of hospitality employees. With radically different work-related values and attitudes to previous generations, the Gen Y employee has confounded workplaces around the globe. As a traditional employer of younger staff, the hospitality industry has been particularly affected by this new generation. there is much hype surrounding Gen Y employees in the popular media, yet there is little empirical evidence to support many of the claims made about them. Research that has been conducted to date has been smallscale and largely descriptive in nature, and has rarely taken the specific context of the hospitality industry into account. Recognising this shortcoming, the basic aims of the project were to:

• review and distil the current literature about employee work attitudes and Gen Y; • identify relevant (academic / practical) areas for research; • examine a range of work-related attitudinal and behavioural constructs comparing Gen Y to other generational groups; • develop practical solutions and approaches for hospitality owners and managers. this report synthesises the findings of a three-year research project aimed at better understanding the impact of the newest and soon-to-be largest generation of employees now in the hospitality industry. Underpinning this report is the premise that there is enormous value in progressing our understanding of the connections between employee attitudes and perceptions of their work environment, and desired organisational outcomes such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, word of mouth advocacy, revenue growth and profitability. included in this report are the results of statistical analyses run on a survey of over 900 hospitality employees in Queensland. The questionnaire was designed to collect information on employee demographic variables, as well as a selection of measures intended to capture critical employee attitudes and opinions regarding their work environment. the included measures were selected based on an established link with positive organisational outcomes.

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Chapters 1 and 2 provide a background to the research problem with an explanation of the employee attitudes that were identified as pivotal to both successfully managing Gen Y and achieving optimal business outcomes in the hospitality industry. Chapters 3 and 4 describe the methods and findings for the survey phase of data collection, highlighting the Ten Key Findings (page 33). most notably and most relevant to this report is the simple fact that Gen Y employees score lower on attitudinal measures that an organisation should be attempting to maximise, and higher on those which should be lower. in other words, Gen Y employees are LeSS satisfied with their jobs, LeSS engaged in their work, and LeSS committed to the organisation they work for than their non-Gen Y counterparts. Similarly,

Gen Y employees display higher scores on the constructs that an organisation would want to minimise in its staff. for example, Gen Y employees are MORE likely to be planning to quit their jobs, moRe likely to perform poorly if their co-workers are doing so, and are also moRe likely to switch jobs for no particular reason. Chapters 5 and 6 provide a detailed discussion of the results as well as a Ten Recommendations for Managing Gen Y section (page 38) which are drawn from the results of this project and which, if implemented with the Gen Y workforce, will likely improve the overall work performance of this generational group and therefore benefit not only the individual hospitality business, but also the industry as a whole.

the report concludes in Chapter 7 with some reflections and final remarks. Significant differences exist in the attitudes of Gen Y employees in the workplace. this study is one of the first to collect empirical data to be able to specify what the differences are, and how they will impact on the management of employees in hospitality businesses. this research represents, on the one hand, an attempt to fill a gap in the academic literature regarding generational differences in work-related attitudes and values. on the other hand, and more importantly for hospitality business owners and operators, this research has provided practical recommendations, based on scientific evidence, as to how to best engage with this generational group in the hospitality workplace.

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

table of Contents

executive summary List of figures 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10 2.11 3 3.1 4 4.1 4.1.1 4.1.2 4.2 4.2.1 4.2.2 4.3 4.3.1 4.3.2 4.3.3 4.3.4 4.4 5 6 6.1 Background to the generation y Project What is a generation and how does it influence the workplace? What makes Generation Y tick? Linking employee attitudes to business success what we measured and why Job Satisfaction employee engagement organisational Citizenship Behaviour organisational Commitment Perceived Supervisory and organisational Support Perceived fairness training and Development opportunities Rewards and Recognition Perceived Job Security and employability Quit intentions and Job Switching Behaviour influence of Co-worker Performance research design and methods Sample characteristics findings Ratings of key employee indices Gen Y vs non-Gen Y Gen Y – 1st, 2nd and 3rd waves importance of key employee indices Gen Y vs non-Gen Y Gen Y – 1st, 2nd and 3rd waves other influences on key employee indices Differences by industry sector Differences by length of employment (tenure) Differences between supervisory and non-supervisory employees Differences by employment status ten key findings from the survey of hospitality employees discussion of resuLts imPLications for the hosPitaLity industry ten recommendations for managing Gen Y 1. Get it right, right from the start 2. Get engaged! employee engagement is essential 3. Build a company culture that is nurturing and collaborative 4. encourage opportunities for learning and growth through challenging work 5. Do not to assume that Gen Y has had the same ‘home training’ as past generations. 6. Get out of denial! Use technology to improve communication with your staff 7. Revitalise your old recognition programs 8. Be prepared to be more flexible than you thought necessary 9. find ways for the new to learn from the old (and vice versa!) 10. Recognise and respect individuality ten recommendations for managing Gen Y: Summary finaL remarks

2 6 8 9 9 11 14 14 15 16 16 17 17 17 18 18 18 19 20 20 24 25 25 26 27 27 28 29 29 30 31 32 33 34 38 38 38 39 40 41 41 42 42 43 43 44 45 46 48 50

6.2 7

BiBLiograPhy aPPendix a – emPLoyee indices: survey items

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List of figures

figure 1: figure 2: figure 3: figure 4: figure 5: figure 6: figure 7: figure 8: figure 9:

the Gen Y research model Key employee indices Respondents by industry sector Respondents by generational group Gender of respondents Highest level of education completed tenure of respondents Positions held by respondents employment status of respondents

12 15 20 21 21 21 22 22 22 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 36

figure 10: Summary of key employee indices figure 11: Key employee indices: Gen Y vs. non-Gen Y figure 12: Key employee indices by Gen Y wave figure 13: importance of key indices: Gen Y vs. non-Gen Y figure 14: importance of key indices by Gen Y wave figure 15: Key employee indices by industry sector figure 16: Key employee indices by tenure figure 17: Key employee indices by position figure 18: Key employee indices by employment status figure 19: Comparison of characteristics: Gen Y, Gen x and Baby Boomers

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1
Background to the Generation Y Project
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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

we think it is safe to assume that all hospitality industry owners and managers aspire to spend the majority of their time on tasks such as growing their businesses, improving customer satisfaction, reducing costs and enhancing efficiencies. the fact is that hospitality businesses by nature are significantly reliant on people. however, managing people takes up a seemingly disproportionate amount of time. for most hospitality businesses, the people who work in a business actually make the place what it is! so while time-consuming, effective management of people is critical to business success. Undoubtedly, the ‘human factor’ is one of the great challenges for hospitality managers today. We believe that this human factor is the single most significant characteristic of the hospitality industry – the inherent focus on people-to-people transactions and numerous problems associated with managing people. Because of the labour intensive character of the industry, and the involvement of individuals in delivering the hospitality ‘product’, the hospitality industry is undoubtedly a ‘people industry’, requiring ‘people skills’ from its workers. Hospitality workers are expected to be hospitable, exhibit positive attitudes toward the customer, and work cohesively as a team. What makes this issue even more challenging is the status and perception of employment in the hospitality industry, often characterised by high levels of absenteeism, high turnover of staff, low commitment levels, low job satisfaction, and high job stress. Hospitality work is often seen as a

‘means to an end’ for some and, as a result, the industry is attractive to recruits that have minimal education or training. All these factors combine to make the management of hospitality organisations particularly challenging. Long and irregular working hours, split shifts, seasonality, low wages, low industry image, the lack of career paths, high 'casualisation' (e.g. part-time workers) of the workforce and multiethnicity are additional characteristics of this industry. it is ironic then, that hospitality employees, working under the conditions referred to above, are expected to deliver high quality service to customers and colleagues. it is clear from the discussion up to this point that there are many fertile research opportunities that would assist our industry to determine best practice in people management. After all, managing people is challenging enough! But compounding the challenge are the continuing changes in the attitudes and values of hospitality industry workers, particularly those of the newest generational group to enter the workforce – Generation Y (Gen Y). the Gen Y employee has seemingly caused a profound challenge to employers! Whether this generational group has been particularly impacted by economic circumstances, globalisation and technology changes is irrelevant because, regardless of the explanation, this generational group is here and will be here for quite some time. It is interesting too that we live in a time where there are more employees from different generational groups working side by side than ever before, and as a result, we are becoming more aware of the differences that generational grouping can have on

understanding employee motivation, attitudes and performance. 1.1 what is a Generation and how does it infLuence the workPLace?

Accordingly, after considering the majority view, the generational cut-offs in our study are defined as follows:

A generation is defined as “an identifiable group that shares birth years, age location and significant life events at critical developmental stages, divided by five [to] seven years in the first wave, core group and last wave”1. A generation, then, is a cohort of people who share similar social or historical experiences, which affect the way members view and interpret the world. the shared experiences will have an influence on how a member of a generation feels towards authority and organisations, what their work-related values are, and how a person would act to satisfy their values and desires. As managers assert their own influence on the training of future leaders, each generation will continue to re-define the organisational environment and how business operations are conducted, creating implications for an organisation’s culture, ethics and human resources policies and procedures. Research conducted across extended time periods has found that work values are more influenced by generational experiences than by age or maturity2. there is some debate in both the popular media and academic literature over the precise year ranges of each generational group in today’s workplace. there will naturally be some overlap and similarities between those born around the edges of each generational range. However, a line does need to be drawn somewhere for analytical purposes.
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Generation Y born between 1979 and 1994 Generation x born between 1965 and 1978 BaBY Boomers born between 1945 and 1964

with conventional thinking on how new entrants to the workplace should think and act. As ‘radical’ as Gen Y’s attitudes may or may not be, these attitudes are nonetheless fundamental in determining the service orientation of a hospitality organisation and should, therefore, be given serious consideration. Determining how best to alter prevailing employment strategies to match the motivational, training and development needs of Gen Y employees appears to be the major human resource challenge for the hospitality industry of the future. in the following section, we provide a summary of the basic characteristics of Gen Y. our summary is drawn principally from a review of academic and trade publications and is integrated with the findings of a round of preliminary focus groups conducted by the research team for this project. 1.2 what makes Generation Y tick? Gen Y children have grown up in relative affluence, with global economic prosperity and low unemployment throughout their lives. Although money has never been a major concern, they have lived in an uncertain world, a world with terrorism and major environmental shocks, connected 24/7 to the events of the world through advances in information technology. multi-tasking

Gen Y currently numbers 4.65 million people in Australia, or 21 percent of the total Australian workforce3. for the hospitality industry, this proportion is even greater – Gen Y makes up nearly a third (30%) of total employees4. those figures will grow dramatically in the next decade. By 2020, the proportion of Gen Y employees in the workforce will double to 42%, while Baby Boomers will decline from 36% of the (total Australian) workforce to just 15%5. the impact on the hospitality industry will logically be acute. in many contexts, the work-related characteristics and attitudes of Gen Y employees are regarded as radically different to those of previous generations entering the workforce. these characteristics and attitudes are at odds

“…the work-related attitudes of Gen Y employees are regarded as radically different to those of previous generations entering the workforce.”
An exAminAtion of work attitude differences

Kupperschmidt, B.R. (2000). Multigeneration employees: strategies for effective management. The Health Care Manager, 19:65-76. 2 Smola, K.W., & Sutton, C.D. (2002). Generational differences: revisiting generational work values for the new millennium. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 23(4): 363-382. 3 McCrindle Research. (2010). Snapshot: Australia approaching ‘peak labour’. 4 Cairncross, G., & Buultjens, J. (2007). Generation Y and work in the tourism and hospitality industry: problem? what problem?. Centre for Enterprise Development and Research, Occasional Paper No. 9. 5 See McCrindle (2010) as above.

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“Multi-tasking is a habit, where 30 hours of content can be crammed into a 7-hour period.”
is a habit, where 30 hours of content can be crammed into a 7-hour period6. this set of experiences creates a low tolerance for boredom and Gen Y can be very selective in the way they receive information – the more interactive it is, the more it will ‘pull’ them towards it. Gen Y is used to feeling included and having their opinion heard. this is as a result of having more involvement in family decisions than previous generations and living at home for longer after finishing school. this common trait has led Gen Y offspring to be labelled as ‘KiPPeRS’ - Kids in Parents Pocket eroding Retirement Savings. it appears that family time is more important to Gen Y than previous generations. this outcome is demonstrated by the results of a study in the US that show that only 12 to 13 percent of Gen Y are workcentric (i.e. those who place greater importance on work than family) and 50 percent are family-centric, compared with 22 percent of Baby Boomers who are work-centric and 41 percent being family-centric7. shown respect and given responsibility from early on in their employment. this new generation is extremely technologically literate, self-reliant, independent, and looking for instant rewards, where long-term means twelve months. these employees are expecting to make a contribution to something worthwhile, to have their input recognised from the start and are not willing to put in years of service in order to gain any significant reward from their employer. in the workplace, they seek constant feedback, even on a daily basis. on the whole, they dislike menial and repetitive work and seek new challenges regularly.

“In the workplace, Gen Y seeks constant feedback, even on a daily basis.”
in general, Gen Y recruits expect to enjoy their jobs, and are particularly concerned with fairness in the workplace – bearing in mind that their idea of fairness may not be the same as yours! for instance, they do not think it is fair that they should have to wait years to be rewarded for their input, when they are making a valuable contribution now. Gen Y employees are collaborative in nature, emphasising teamwork and expecting to be immediately recognised and respected for their input. Although recent economic circumstances could have been expected to alter some of these attitudes, the general consensus is that these common Gen Y traits still hold true.

“Gen Y is used to feeling included and having their opinion heard.”
in a working context, the Gen Y employee is described as more demanding than new employees have ever been before. they are not afraid of expressing their opinions. With a low tolerance for boredom, Gen Y thrives on new challenges and expects to be

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6 Millwood, A. (2007). The young and the restless. Nation’s Restaurant News, 41(5), 132-133. Families & Work Institute. (2002). Generation & gender in the workplace, Families & Work Institute, Retrieved from <http://familiesandwork.org/site/research/reports/genandgender.pdf>

Gen Y expect to be praised for their efforts, rather than only for their results - this is likely due to being raised in non-competitive environments that place importance on participation over finishing first. the implications of this for performance management will be significant. Gen Y employees, having put a lot effort into a task, yet not having achieved the desired outcome, will still expect their attempt to be recognised and acknowledged. emerging research suggests that this generation is more educated and confident than previous generations8 and they are the smartest generation ever9. this would suggest a faster ability to learn, develop and adapt in the workplace. Given this, it is not surprising then that Gen Y employees would desire greater responsibility and involvement in workplace decisions and processes from earlier in their employment tenure. Gen Y employees expect a wide range of intangible rewards, including empowerment, respect, recognition as an individual, a heavy investment in training and development, variety in daily work, freedom to work on one’s own initiative, scope for creativity in one’s work, workplace involvement, concern for employee welfare and supportive management (they don’t want much, do they?). Socially and environmentally active organisations are particularly attractive to the typical Gen Y employee. it has been observed by some experts that being ‘green’ can be an effective retention strategy for the Gen Y cohort. Given changing employee demographics and attitudes, supplydemand imbalances in the workforce, as well as ever-growing demand for hospitality businesses, it is increasingly obvious that a new understanding of employee values, attitudes, and behaviours is needed if hospitality organisations are to sustain a competitive advantage through service. to that end, the following section will discuss the conceptual framework and underpinning logic on which this Gen Y research project is based.

1.3 LinkinG emPLoYee attitudes to Business success this report introduces, explains and uses many concepts and principles espoused by the discipline known as organisational psychology. organisational psychology focuses on the impact that individuals, groups and structures have on behaviour in the workplace. organisational psychology is the application or extension of psychological facts and principles to the problems concerning human beings operating within the context of business and industry. more simply, organisational psychology is the scientific study of the relationship between people and the world of work. Given the inherent people-related issues mentioned in the opening paragraphs, studying the relationship between people and their work is particularly relevant and appropriate to the study of hospitality management. When we refer to the psychology of the workforce, we refer to the attitudes held by workers, and the influence that attitudes have on behaviour, particularly in relation to behaviour towards co-workers and toward customers. in this study, we are especially concerned with how differences in attitudes across generations will impact on behaviour. there are many benefits, some obvious, others less, in gaining a better understanding of employee attitudes. for example, there is growing evidence that there are direct connections between work environments – as perceived by employees – and important organisational outcomes, such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and profitability. the foundation of this premise is that in order to deliver consistent levels of service, organisations benefit when employees view various aspects of their working environment favourably (note: this is not the same as ‘job satisfaction’, which we review later). A principal focus of organisational psychology is on how to improve business outcomes by way of understanding the psychology or

“Gen Y employees are collaborative in nature, emphasising teamwork and expecting to be immediately recognised and respected for their input.”

“Socially and environmentally active organisations are particularly attractive to the typical Gen Y employee.”
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Pew Research Center. (2010) Millenials: A portrait of Generation Next. Pew Research Center, Retrieved from http://pewresearch.org/millennials/ Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown up digital: how the Net Generation is changing your world. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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attitudes of workers. Gaining such understanding can be achieved via a series of measures that have been developed and tested over years. for the purpose of this research project, we compiled a comprehensive list of the most relevant measures for hospitality employers and employees, in particular for Gen Y employees. We refer to each of the measures as an ‘employee index’, and each of the key employee indices will be reviewed in greater detail in the following section. to aid in understanding the relationships between some of the concepts discussed here, figure 1 illustrates the model on which this research project is based. this model was developed by the researchers in the initial stages of this research project and was originally published in the Journal of Hospitality

and Tourism Management10. essentially, external influences have an effect on Gen Y’s work values, which influence Gen Y’s work attitudes, and in turn, the behaviours that Gen Y exhibits at work. Ultimately, the outcomes that the employer achieves are affected by Gen Y’s work behaviours. interacting with Gen Y’s work-related values and attitudes are the human resource management (HRm) strategies implemented by the organisation, which are influenced by internal characteristics of the organisation. the organisational characteristics and HRm strategies have an ability to attract potential Gen Y employees, if these are in alignment with Gen Y’s work values. the dynamic interaction between Gen Y’s work values and attitudes and the HRm strategies of the organisation will influence Gen Y’s

work behaviours with a resulting impact on organisational outcomes. We acknowledge that different types of hospitality businesses (five star hotels vs. backpackers; fine dining vs. fast food) have varying requirements in terms of the levels of service they provide, the amount of training needed, and the like. But common to nearly all hospitality businesses is a heavy reliance on staff – human beings – who are often the face of the business and who can make or break each customer experience. of particular interest to us (and hopefully to the readers of this report) is the reverse side of the people challenges coin, in that many of the world’s best hospitality organisations view people ‘challenges’ as an opportunity to gain competitive advantage11.

ExtErnal InfluEncEs • societal • political • technological • historical GEn Y work valuEs • respect • recognition • input & involvement • continuous development • supportive management • fairness, tolerance, equity • concern for individual welfare
ATTRACTED BY

GEn Y work atttItudEs • job satisfaction • motivation • organisational commitment

GEn Y work bEhavIours • level of absenteeism • standard of performance • intention to stay/leave

orGanIsatIonal outcomEs • Profitability • Turnover • Market share • Customer retention • Reputation as an employer • Competitive advantage

ALIGNED WITH

hrm stratEGIEs • recruitment & selection • induction • training & development • empowerment • supervisor support • intrinsic benefits • extrinsic benefits • communication • performance management

orGanIsatIonal InfluEncEs • vision • mission • values • resources & costs • expertise • strength of culture • service orientation

fiGure 1: the Gen Y research modeL
Solnet, D. & Hood, A. (2008). Generation Y as hospitality employees: Framing a research agenda. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Management 15(4): 59-68. For further reading and examples of how hospitality organisations are successfully turning human resource challenges into opportunities, please see Solnet et al. (2010) and Ford & Heaton (2001), as cited in the Bibliography.
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Photo courtesy of Mirvac Hotels and Resorts

In summary, people and effective people management are, and will always be, central to the ultimate success of the hospitality businesses. The entrance of Gen Y to the hospitality workforce has, however, profoundly altered the way employment will be viewed and managed in the future. In order to find new ways of approaching the employment relationship, to the mutual benefit of employees and employers, it is necessary to study generational differences in work attitudes through the lens of organisational psychology. Therefore, the main purpose of this report is to:

• provide information to industry about critical employee attitudes; • undertake a thorough examination of differences in employee attitudes that can be attributable to generational groups, with a particular focus on Generation Y; • discuss the implications of the findings for hospitality operators. Having reviewed the background and rationale for this project, we will identify the important aspects of the hospitality work environment, as perceived by employees that we can actively measure. In other words, we want to isolate the employee

attitudes that have direct and positive links to employee behaviours, as demonstrated by scientifically rigorous research. For example, we know from streams of research that highly engaged workers are more likely to exert greater effort on behalf of their workplace. So, if we can measure levels of engagement and compare these across different generational groups, we can learn about how engagement levels vary by age.

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2
What we measured and why
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this section provides a brief overview of some of the employee perception measures (or indices) that are recognised by current ‘best practice’ in people management as the most important to influence. all of the included indices have been shown to be indicators of positive organisational outcomes, particularly in service-based industries where employee-customer interaction is high. if the reader of this report takes nothing else out of this research, we believe it would be highly useful to understand the concepts summarised below and to make every effort to improve employee perception of these concepts in their workplace. A wise person once said that running a hospitality business is like making a thousand brushstrokes each day – it is not possible to get each and every one of them all right all of the time. However, attending to each brush stroke – or in this case to the psychological indicators we have measured – will certainly lead to better business outcomes than leaving it all to chance. Some or many of the employee index items listed below may appear to be the same or similar. to an extent, this is true. However, years of research and statistical tests have shown that each of the indices, although somewhat overlapping, is statistically distinct. it is therefore important to examine each one independently. figure 2 provides a summary of each of the key employee indices. further details about each item are offered in the sub-sections below. for interested readers, information on all the previous

scholarly work referred to, either directly or indirectly, is provided in the Bibliography12. Readers can find the list of survey items that relate to each employee index in Appendix A. 2.1 joB satisfaction Gaining a sound grasp of the concept of job satisfaction is far more complex than one might initially think. indeed, it has been the subject of ongoing research for most of the last century. there is a general belief that job satisfaction, and positive feelings toward one’s job, have a positive impact on work performance. essentially, job satisfaction describes how content an individual is with his or her job, or, the extent of the pleasurable or positive emotional state, which results from the evaluation of one's job13. there is a surprising amount of complexity involved in understanding this concept and its relationship with important organisational outcomes such as customer satisfaction, staff turnover, and revenue growth. Regardless of these complexities, it is vital to understand this important caveat: that ‘satisfaction’ in a job should never be confused with employee motivation or performance. it is possible to be very satisfied with one’s job, but still unmotivated to perform to the required standard. this is because there are many known influences on job satisfaction, including co-workers, pay and benefits, conditions, supervision, nature of the work, management style and the like. there are other related lines of thought about job satisfaction and employee performance which suggest that job

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Should any reader require further information relating to these indices or how they were incorporated into the research design, please contact the Generation Y Project Leader, Dr David Solnet, directly. Locke, E.A. (1976). The nature and causes of job satisfaction. In M.D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (pp. 1297-349). Chicago: Rand McNally.

‘dis’satisfaction clearly has negative impacts for an organisation, but that job satisfaction, by itself, is not enough to keep workers motivated and performing well. Regardless of any discrepancy in research about job satisfaction, we believe that it is instructive to understand job satisfaction, particularly in the context of generational differences. 2.2 emPLoYee enGaGement employee engagement is arguably the ‘flavour of the day’ in service organisations, in terms of what is seen as a critical measure of success. it is increasingly recognised as an important factor in optimising organisational outcomes. the basic notion is that the more employees feel they are able to express their preferred selves at work, the more they will invest in their work role and their organisation. in this sense, employee engagement comprises two major components. the first, ‘feelings of engagement’, describes an elevated state of energy and enthusiasm towards the organisation and the work tasks. the second component, ‘engagement behaviours’, are the actions demonstrated in pursuit of achieving organisational goals, such as task persistence, being proactive, and assuming additional responsibilities as required14. it is important to emphasise the distinction between the concepts of job satisfaction and employee engagement. Job satisfaction is related to what a company is doing for its employees and involves employees’ evaluations of such drivers as job security, benefits and opportunities for advancement. on the other hand, engagement is concerned with the full utilisation of an employee’s

EmPloYEE IndEx Job satisfaction Engagement

brIEf dEscrIPtIon The pleasurable emotional state that results from the evaluation of one's job The full utilisation of an employee’s skills and abilities; a positive link between individual and organisational objectives Going ‘above and beyond’ what is generally accepted to be a part of an employee’s formal role requirements A psychological attachment to the organisation; having a strong sense of belonging to the organisation An employee’s evaluation of the extent to which their employer values their contributions and cares about their well-being An employee’s evaluation of the extent to which their direct supervisor values their contributions and cares about their well-being Perceptions of ‘justice’ relating to how work is organised and how effort is acknowledged /rewarded Perceptions regarding the investment an organisation has made in the employee in terms of T&D opportunities The extrinsic or financial benefits received in exchange for work done The acknowledgement or credit given for a job well done or improvement in performance Expectations of future job continuity in an organisation How a person views their employment prospects both within and outside an organisation The intention to leave one’s job Changing jobs for change’s sake, for fun The negative influence of poor co-worker performance

organisational citizenship behaviours

organisational commitment Perceived organisational support

Perceived supervisor support

Perceived fairness training & development opportunities

rewards recognition Perceived job security Perceived employability Quit intentions Job switching behaviours co-worker performance

fiGure 2: keY emPLoYee indices

14 May, D. R., R. L. Gilson, et al. (2004). The psychological conditions of meaningfulness, safety and availability and the engagement of the human spirit at work, Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 77(1): 11-37.

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skills and abilities, and indicates a positive link between individual and organisational objectives. in this light, an employee can be satisfied with his or her job, in that it pays well enough, is stable and offers future opportunities, yet still not be engaged in their work, as the employee feels under-utilised and personally misaligned with organisational goals and values. 2.3 orGanisationaL citiZenshiP Behaviour employees that exhibit organisational citizenship behaviours are those employees that behave in a way that goes ‘above and beyond’ what is generally accepted to be a part of their formal role requirements. These citizenship behaviours result in improved organisational outcomes, for example, a better sense of teamwork internally, or increased customer satisfaction results externally15. Such behaviours are also known as ‘extra-role’ behaviours, and are favourable in any organisation, particularly those that are reliant on the quality of interpersonal interactions, such as hospitality businesses. there are a number of different types of citizenship behaviours, including: • altruism (helping other people in the organisation); • conscientiousness (going well beyond the minimum role requirements in terms of attendance, obeying rules); • sportsmanship (tolerating less than ideal circumstances without complaining);

• courtesy (taking proactive measures to prevent workplace problems); • and civic virtue (high levels of concern about the organisation). 2.4 orGanisationaL commitment this concept describes the psychological attachment that an employee feels (or does not feel) to an organisation. there are a number of ways in which someone can be psychologically attached to their work organisation. for the purposes of this project, the type of organisational commitment that is most relevant is ‘affective’ (or emotive) commitment. Affective commitment involves a greater sense of loyalty and shared values between employee and employer, as opposed to commitment, which arises from a sense of obligation (‘normative’ commitment) or from a lack of alternative employment options (‘continuance’ commitment)16. Affective commitment to an organisation has been shown to be an important factor in employee loyalty, dedication and other important employee performance measures. When a person is committed, they identify strongly with, and have a powerful sense of belonging to, the organisation. Committed employees get involved in workplace initiatives and activities more readily and demonstrate a willingness to do whatever is necessary to pursue organisational goals. Previous research has shown direct associations between affective organisational commitment and other key important employee performance indicators such as reduced absenteeism, improved job performance and lower rates of staff turnover.

15

16

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H. & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviours and their effects on followers’ trust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviours. The Leadership Quarterly 1(2): 107-142. Meyer, J. P., Allen, N. J. & Smith, C. A. (1993). Commitment to organizations and occupations: Extension and test of a threecomponent conceptualization. Journal of Applied Psychology 78(4): 538-551.

2.5 Perceived suPervisorY and orGanisationaL suPPort two related, yet distinct concepts that are important to measure, particularly when looking at generational differences in hospitality employee attitudes, are ‘perceived organisational support’ (PoS) and ‘perceived supervisory support’ (PSS). on the one hand, PoS describes the evaluation that an employee makes regarding the extent to which their employer values their contributions and cares about their well-being. on the other hand, there is also clear evidence that employee attitudes are affected not only by the actions and attitudes of managers and owners (i.e. those who are seen as senior managers or above), but also by anyone in the organisation who is bestowed power and responsibility, such as supervisors, shift leaders and captains. Accordingly, PSS refers to the way employees perceive support from their direct supervisor17. Supervisors tend to play an even larger role than senior management in areas of individual assessment and feedback. Acting as agents for the organisation, supervisors have a profound effect on employees’ work-related experiences. it should not be lost on owners and managers that employees tend to see a business as a living entity. So the actions of anyone given power are often viewed similarly. this creates an additional level of complexity when an organisation grows and when more people are given greater responsibility. An interesting underpinning of organisational and supervisory support is social exchange theory, whereby workers tend to trade effort and dedication to a workplace for tangible incentives such as pay, but also for socio-emotional benefits, such as esteem, approval and caring. Assuming that service workers benefit from perceived support from their organisation and from their supervisor, it is important and useful to understand the degree to which this concept is perceived differently across generational groups. indeed, there is a strong argument to suggest that the workrelated attitudes of Gen Y employees are more likely to be affected by their perceptions of supervisory and organisational support18.

2.6 Perceived fairness the notion of fairness (also known as ‘justice’) has gained increasing importance in terms of understanding the way employees exert effort in the workplace. Some of the questions a person will ask themselves when tasked with a duty or responsibility are, “is that fair?” and “am I being paid appropriately for what i do, in comparison to what others do?”. Like many other concepts in organisational psychology, measuring fairness is complex, and various ways have been proposed and tested over the years. in general, it is agreed that underneath the broad definition of fairness sit a number of interrelated ways of thinking about fairness and justice in organisations. Different aspects of fairness have different effects on various employee attitudes. the aspects of perceived fairness that are most relevant to the current study and are not captured by the other key employee indices are ‘procedural’ justice (are the work procedures and resolution processes fair?) and ‘distributive’ justice (is my effort properly acknowledged?)19. Based on the background research into Gen Y, it seems likely that their workrelated attitudes will be more affected by their perceptions of fairness within an organisation. So it is necessary to compare fairness perceptions across generational groups. 2.7 traininG and deveLoPment oPPortunities Providing employees with training and development (t&D) opportunities has long been seen as a key tool, in not only building human ‘capital’, but also as a means of improving staff retention and motivation. this is particularly the case in the hospitality industry, where it is important to build visible career paths for employees. for Gen Y, these opportunities for learning and selfdevelopment would seem to be all the more critical in the formation of workrelated attitudes. Accordingly, this index of employee opinion was included in the study in order to test differences across generations in perceptions regarding the investment an organisation has made in the employee in terms of t&D opportunities, and how this perception might influence other attitudes.

Rhoades, L., Eisenberger, R., & Armeli, S. (2001). Affective commitment to the organization: the contribution of perceived organizational support. Journal of Applied Psychology 86(5): 825-836. See Solnet & Hood (2008) for the full explanation of this argument. 19 Colquitt, J. A. (2001). On the dimensionality of organizational justice: A construct validation of a measure. Journal of Applied Psychology 86(3): 386-400.
17 18

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2.8 rewards and recoGnition employee perceptions of the rewards and recognition they receive for the effort they exert in the workplace have obvious influences on the formation of important employee attitudes. in this study, rewards are considered to be the extrinsic, or financial, benefits that an employee receives for their work. As mentioned previously, evaluations regarding pay and conditions have a direct influence on job satisfaction. Recognition is considered to be the acknowledgement and credit from supervisors, whether expressed verbally or through a tangible award, for a job well done, or for an improvement in job performance. there is a line of argument in the popular media regarding Gen Y employees that they are not as motivated by financial rewards as the previous generations. instead, recognition and being valued and respected for their input are said to be bigger motivators. this study includes an examination of perceptions of both rewards and recognition (as separate indices) in order to assess differences across generations, to see if meaningful differences exist and are relevant to other important employee attitudes. 2.9 Perceived joB securitY and emPLoYaBiLitY Job security can be defined as a psychological state where workers have expectations (ranging from very low to very high) of future job continuity within an organisation. What seems to happen with employees is that they form a subconscious psychological contract, which is based significantly on trust and mutual good will. Although every workplace is different, and matters related to a local economy, industry, unemployment levels and wage competition can vary, there is compelling evidence that perceived job security is an important indicator of employee effort and motivation. in fact, along with enjoying a job, being treated well and receiving fair wages, job security usually falls in the top grouping of motivators of employee performance. Some may not believe that this is correct, believing rather that the more employees are kept on edge, or feel threatened about their job, the more effort they would likely apply. However,
20

as a result of many studies, there is evidence that job security is far more positive than negative in the long run20. Related to the notion of perceived job security is that of perceived employability. this concept is defined as how a person views their employment prospects within their own organisation (e.g. promotion, sideways move), outside their organisation, but within their current industry, or even in other unrelated fields. When an employee feels particularly employable, this naturally has effects on the importance that job security plays on their work effort and performance21. the two indices of perceived job security and perceived employability were included as a direct result of considering the ‘typical’ experiences that hospitality managers have had with their Gen Y employees. Gen Y employees are often described as confident about their job prospects and seemingly blind to the potential for unemployment. Having grown up in prosperous economic times, Gen Y have only recently experienced the idea of economic hardship. even now, many young employees in Australia have still not been adversely affected by the global financial crisis that has crippled the world in recent years. An examination of differences across generations in perceived job security and employability and potential effects on other attitudes is therefore warranted. 2.10 Quit intentions and joB switchinG Behaviour Another related concept is when an employee has intentions to leave their job (rather than when the employer hopes they leave!). this concept is known as ‘intentions to quit’ and is understood to be another important indicator of employee performance22 – employees that are intending to leave often ‘withdraw’ from the workplace and do not exert as much effort as they otherwise could or would. Because of the high cost (both tangible and intangible) of turnover, many organisations are interested in reducing the number of employees who leave the organization voluntarily. interestingly, some have suggested that measuring intentions is a more useful than measuring actual turnover, as sometimes, high quit intentions do not

21

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

Khatri, N., Fern, C. T. & Budhwar, P. (2001). Explaining employee turnover in an Asian context. Human Resource Management Journal 11(1): 54-74. Berntson, E., Sverke, M. & Marklund, S. (2006). Predicting perceived employability: Human capital or labour market opportunities? Economic and Industrial Democracy 27(2): 223-244. 22 Colarelli, S. M. (1984). Methods of communication and mediating processes in realistic job previews. Journal of Applied Psychology 69(4): 633-642.

equate to actual turnover due to high unemployment or other economic / external factors. the main difference in definition between intentions to quit and job switching relates to the rationale for such intentions. Job switching is understood as an attitude or behaviour where employees migrate from one job to another irrespective of the way in which they view their current role23. this concept is highly prevalent when the labour market favours employees, and has even created an attitude amongst workers that switching jobs is simply fun. Gone are the days when having six jobs in two years is seen unfavourably on a resumé! Consequently, it is expected that Gen Y employees will score higher on the job switching index than their Gen x or Baby Boomer counterparts. 2.11 infLuence of co-worker Performance A final employee index included in this study is related to the selfreported influence of poor co-worker performance on an employee’s own behaviour. that is to say, an employee may put in less effort that is acceptable, or not perform to standard, because a co-worker is also ‘slacking off’. this is not a typical measure of employee attitudes that is well accepted in the organisational psychology literature. Rather, it is an item added by the research team following the preliminary focus groups and survey pilot testing conducted prior to the main data collection process. A number of participants in the focus groups and pilot testing phases suggested that Gen Y employees seemed to be more affected by their peers when it came to exerting effort in the workplace. this idea seemed valid, particularly considering the interconnectivity, social networking and collaborative working styles that appear to define this generation.

23 Khatri, N., Fern, C. T. & Budhwar, P. (2001). Explaining employee turnover in an Asian context. Human Resource Management Journal 11(1): 54-74.

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3
Research design and methods
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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

Participation in the survey stage of the study was sought from a range of hospitality organisations in both urban and regional areas across Queensland. the owners and General managers (Gm) of hospitality firms in the hotel, restaurant and club sectors were contacted to request access to their employees in order to collect data for this research. in general, Gms were enthusiastic about the project and many agreed to have their properties participate. in all, twenty Queensland hospitality businesses participated in the study24.

the research project aims were explained, participation solicited and questionnaires distributed to individual employees during pre-arranged gatherings of staff (e.g. departmental meetings, training sessions and Gm briefings). At the end of the data collection period at each property (completed in July 2010), a total of 914 usable questionnaires had been completed. for the purpose of the types of statistical tests we are most interested in, this number, and the breakdowns by generational group, represent a valid sample. 3.1 samPLe characteristics figure 3 presents the breakdown of respondents by industry sector – the majority are from hotels, with a third from restaurants and the remainder from the club sector.

the primary data collection tool for this study was a paper-based survey. Respondents were first asked to report on some descriptive characteristics, such as age, gender, tenure with current organisation, position in organisation and employment status. in the main section of the survey, respondents indicated their attitudes (on a scale of 1 – ‘strongly disagree’ to 7 – ‘strongly agree’)25 towards a series of statements designed to capture the key employee indices introduced in the previous section of this report. the survey solicited information from respondents on how they perceived their current work situation, as well as how they perceived their ideal work situation.

13%

32%

55%

Hotel

Club

Restaurant

fiGure 3: resPondents BY industrY sector

25

Our commitment to the participating organisations was that none of the data would be identifiable to any particular organisation, and that we would not publish the names of participating organisations. This scale is known as a “Likert Scale” which has been found, over decades of research and testing, to be a highly effective way of measuring and capturing the differences in, and range of, employee attitudes.
24

figure 4 shows the generational groupings of the survey respondents. A majority of the respondents were from the Gen Y age bracket (i.e. currently aged between 17 and 31 years of age), which reflects the traditional industry reliance on younger workers. the remaining 344 respondents were classified as non-Gen Y, of which 140 can be specifically identified as Gen x (i.e. aged between 32 and 45 at the time of the study) and 91 can be identified as Baby Boomers (i.e. aged between 46 and 65 at the time of the study)26. As indicated in figure 5 the sample is mostly female, which is also indicative of the typical hospitality labour force. further characteristics of the sample are presented in the following figures. these characteristics were also captured by the questionnaire as they were thought to possibly have an impact on employee attitudes and values, over and above the impact of the generational cohort. As can be seen in figure 6, more than 50% of the sample has only completed some level of secondary education. this finding is not surprising however, given the large representation of younger respondents in the sample, many of whom would be continuing their schooling whilst working.

10% 12% 41% 15% 63% 59%

Gen Y Baby Boomers

Gen x non-Gen Y

male

female

fiGure 4: resPondents BY GenerationaL GrouP

fiGure 5: Gender of resPondents

34%

30% 15%

12%

3% 6%

fiGure 6: hiGhest LeveL of education comPLeted

26 The initial round of completed questionnaires did not distinguish between Gen X and Baby Boomers and therefore the sample includes some participants who can only be distinguished as ‘not Gen Y’.

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47% 31% 22%

the tenure of the sample is relatively normally distributed (figure 7), with just under a third being in the first year of employment, nearly half the sample having worked for their organisation between one and five years and around twenty percent having worked with their organisation for more than 5 years. the sample contains a large proportion of food and Beverage employees (63 percent), with Housekeeping and Front Office/Concierge representing approximately 22 percent of the sample. the majority of respondents hold nonsupervisory positions (see figure 8). it is interesting to note, however, that in terms of employment status (in figure 9), full-time employees are most represented in this sample, above casual and part-time employees. Although there is a traditional reliance on transient and non-permanent workers in the hospitality industry, the characteristics of this sample reflect the participating organisations’ emphasis on providing full-time, reliable and progressive positions in order to improve motivation and combat employee turnover.
full-time

fiGure 7: tenure of resPondents

21% 32% 43% 68% 36%

Non-supervisory Supervisor/Manager fiGure 8: Positions heLd BY resPondents

Casual

Part-time

fiGure 9: emPLoYment status of resPondents

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

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4
findings
EmPloYEE IndEx Job satisfaction Engagement Perceived organisational support Perceived supervisor support Perceived fairness training & development opportunities rewards recognition Perceived Job security Perceived Employability Quit Intentions co-worker Performance
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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

to recap the information presented in previous sections, the employee survey was designed to capture attitudes and opinions of Queensland hospitality employees regarding a range of key employee indices, and to enable the

analysis of differences in these attitudes across generational groupings. the key employee indices and a brief description of their importance are summarised in figure 10.

brIEf dEscrIPtIon The pleasurable emotional state that results from the evaluation of one's job The full utilisation of an employee’s skills and abilities; a positive link between individual and organisational objectives Going ‘above and beyond’ what is generally accepted to be a part of an employee’s formal role requirements A psychological attachment to the organisation; having a strong sense of belonging to the organisation An employee’s evaluation of the extent to which their employer values their contributions and cares about their well-being An employee’s evaluation of the extent to which their direct supervisor values their contributions and cares about their wellbeing Perceptions of ‘justice’ relating to how work is organised and how effort is acknowledged /rewarded Perceptions regarding the investment an organisation has made in the employee in terms of T&D opportunities The extrinsic or financial benefits received in exchange for work done The acknowledgement or credit given for a job well done or improvement in performance Expectations of future job continuity in an organisation How a person views their employment prospects both within and outside an organisation The intention to leave one’s job Changing jobs for change’s sake, for fun The negative influence of poor co-worker performance

organisational citizenship behaviours organisational commitment

Job switching behaviours

fiGure 10: summarY of keY emPLoYee indices

the results are presented in the following order27: 1. a comparison of the attitudes (key employee indices): • of Gen Y against the combined others (‘non-Gen Y’)28 (4.1.1); • within the Gen Y group (1st wave, 2nd wave, 3rd wave) (4.1.2). 2. a review of how important the key indices are to: • Gen Y vs. non Gen Y (4.2.1); • the three Gen Y waves (4.2.2).

3. a comparison of the results by: • industry sector (club, hotel, restaurant) (4.3.1); • tenure (length of time an employee has been working in for the same company) (4.3.2); • position (supervisor vs. non supervisor) (4.3.3); • employment status (full time, part time, casual) (4.3.4).

4.1 ratinGs of keY emPLoYee indices 4.1.1 Gen Y vs non-Gen Y this section presents the results central to the underlying aims of this study: How Gen Y is, or may be different, in terms of workplace attitudes (remembering that workplace attitudes have a strong influence on workplace behaviours, particularly towards customers and coworkers). figure 11 shows the difference in mean attitudes for each of the key employee indices for both groups, and the key findings are highlighted below.

Gen Y rates hiGher than nonGen Y on these attitudes

Perceived Employability Quit Intentions Job Switching Behaviours Influence Of Co-Worker Performance
Gen Y rates Lower than non-Gen Y on these attitudes Engagement Job Satisfaction Organisational Citizenship Behaviours Organisational Commitment Perceived Supervisor Support Perceived Organisational Support Perceived Fairness Perceived Job Security Rewards

strongly disagree non-Gen Y Gen Y

strongly agree

fiGure 11: keY emPLoYee indices: Gen Y vs. non-Gen Y
Statistical analyses were performed using the software package SPSS – a wealth of supporting statistical information has been generated that will not be reported here. Statistical tests included independent samples t-tests, one-way analysis of variance, and factorial design analysis of variance. Please contact the researchers should you require more in-depth information. 28 As the focus of this report is on Gen Y’s work-related attitudes, the Baby Boomer and Gen X groups have been combined into one group named ‘non-Gen Y’. This aids the presentation of results and findings as it focuses attention on Gen Y’s attitudes.
27

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Photo courtesy of Mirvac Hotels and Resorts

“…the younger the employee, the more difficult it is to generate attitudes linked with positive organisational outcomes, and the more likely they are to quit unexpectedly or perform poorly.”

4.1.2 Gen Y – 1st, 2nd and 3rd waves to investigate whether the attitudes for key employee indices are similar across the generation, we broke this generation down into segments which we called ‘waves’: 1. 1st wave (the oldest, aged between 27 and 31 at the time of the survey); 2. 2nd wave (the ‘mid’ group, aged between 22 and 26 at the time of the survey);

3. 3rd wave (the youngest group and still relatively new to the workforce, aged between 17 and 21 at the time of the survey) figure 12 shows the difference in attitudes (means) for each of the three waves of Gen Y. in general, we found that the older the wave, the better the rating. So the 1st wave (oldest) generally has the highest ratings, followed by the 2nd and the 3rd. the reverse is also true – the 3rd

strongly disagree 1st Wave 2nd Wave 3rd Wave

strongly agree

fiGure 12: keY emPLoYee indices BY Gen Y wave

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

(youngest) wave has a higher rating for the attitudes where it is desirable to have low scores, while the 1st wave generally rates them lowest out of the three waves. this suggests that the younger the employee, the more difficult it is to generate attitudes linked with positive organisational outcomes, and the more likely they are to quit unexpectedly or perform poorly. this finding was first revealed in the analysis of Gen Y versus non-Gen Y, and further supported in the analysis of the three Gen Y waves. 4.2 iMPortance of keY eMPLoYee indices the analysis so far has considered the attitudes of hospitality employees in Queensland when they consider their current work organisation. We also asked respondents to provide a rating of importance of each of the indices in order to better understand how each group values each index in the workplace. the importance (value) that employees attach to each index is analysed in terms of Gen Y and nonGen Y, as well as the three waves of Gen Y.

4.2.1 Gen Y vs non-Gen Y figure 13 illustrates the importance of each employee index to Gen Y and nonGen Y respondents. All employees, regardless of generation, consider it most important to be satisfied with their jobs. following this, Job Security and Rewards are rated as most important by all respondents. non-Gen Y respondents rate most indices as more important than Gen Y respondents, although Gen Y employees place a greater value on recognition than non-Gen Y employees. the biggest difference between the ratings of Gen Y and non-Gen Y respondents was for the organisational Commitment index – Gen Y employees rate the importance of this index much lower than non-Gen Y respondents.

“All employees, regardless of generation, consider it most important to be satisfied with their jobs.”

“…Gen Y employees place a greater value on recognition than non-Gen Y employees.”

Strongly Disagree non-Gen Y Gen Y

Strongly Agree

fiGure 13: iMPortance of keY indices: Gen Y vs. non-Gen Y

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strongly disagree 1st Wave 2nd Wave 3rd Wave

strongly agree

fiGure 14: imPortance of keY indices BY Gen Y wave

4.2.2 Gen Y – 1st, 2nd and 3rd waves figure 14 shows the differences between ratings of importance for each employee index across the three waves of Gen Y employees. Again, Job Satisfaction, Job Security and Rewards are rated as the most important by these respondents. Again, the younger employees consider all the indices to be less important than the older employees. for example, note that the older employees seem to value commitment to the organisation, recognition, supervisory support (and others) higher than the younger employees. it is possible then, that Gen

Y’s attitudes will improve with time. it might be that Gen Y struggles to feel comfortable in the workplace initially, but as they gain experience, they also perceive things more favourably. Whether this is as a result of having more influence on their workplace or because their values have changed over time, cannot be determined from this research design. Regardless, attention needs to be paid to improving the perceptions of the youngest and newest workers immediately, and not wait from them to ‘work it out for themselves’.

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

strongly disagree Restaurant Club Hotel

strongly agree

fiGure 15: keY emPLoYee indices BY industrY sector

4.3 other infLuences on keY emPLoYee indices there are a host of relevant factors that could influence an employee’s work-related attitudes and values, over and above the effect of generational grouping. it is not possible to control for all such variables in the one study, so a few key factors were selected as potentially significant influences on the sample group’s attitudes. Given that the surveyed employees, for the most part, have indicated their attitudes towards their current work situation, it is possible that industry sector has an influence on the responses. Different work conditions prevail in each industry sector, and it is logical to assume that this might have an influence on attitudes. Length of time spent with the organisation (tenure), position within the organisation and employment status could also influence the way employees perceive their working environment. each of these factors will now be considered in terms of each of the key employee indices.

4.3.1 differences by industry sector figure 15 shows the differences between the ratings of each key employee index across each industry sector: hotels, restaurants and clubs across all generational groupings. important findings are highlighted in the sidebar on right. We then examined the combined influence of industry sector and generational grouping on employee attitudes. in this analysis, we compared the attitudes of Gen Y employees across different industry sectors, to determine if there any substantial differences existed. in the club sector, we found that the perceptions of organisational and Supervisory support are not only lower for Gen Y employees than non-Gen Y employees, we also found that they are significantly lower than the perceptions of Gen Y employees in other industry sectors. this indicates two areas for club managers to focus on in order to improve their management of Gen Y employees. for Gen Y employees in hotels, we found that the organisational Commitment and organisational Citizenship Behaviours indices are significantly stronger than Gen Y employees of the club and restaurant sectors. there may be examples of ‘best practice’ strategies in place in hotels that restaurant and club managers could adapt to suit their own operations. restaurant emPLoYees… …rate Lower on: organisational Commitment Rewards hoteL emPLoYees… …rate hiGher on: organisational Commitment Job Security Supervisor Support organisational Support employability Rewards cLuB emPLoYees… …rate Lower on: Job Security Supervisor Support

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strongly disagree Long mid early

strongly agree

fiGure 16: keY emPLoYee indices BY tenure

“…Gen Y employees, in earlier stages of tenure, will be more likely to switch jobs unexpectedly.”

4.3.2 differences by Length of employment (tenure) earLY-tenure emPLoYees… …rate Lower on: engagement Job Security …rate hiGher on: Co-worker Performance Job Switching Behaviours Quit intentions mid-tenure emPLoYees… …rate Lower on: Job Satisfaction Rewards fairness LonG-tenure emPLoYees… …rate hiGher on: engagement organisational Commitment Citizenship Behaviours Job Security …rate Lower on: Co-worker Performance Job Switching Behaviours Quit intentions figure 16 presents the differences in means of the key employee indices across three tenure groupings: early tenure (less than 1 year) mid-tenure (1 to 5 years) and long tenure (5+ years). major differences are highlighted in the sidebar on left. When taking into account the combined influence of tenure and generational grouping, we found notable effects on the indices Job Security and Job Switching Behaviours. not surprisingly, one finding was that Gen Y employees will have greater feelings of job security at later stages of tenure. on the other hand, Gen Y employees in earlier stages of tenure, will be more likely to switch jobs unexpectedly (than employees who are Gen Y but not early tenure, or nonGen Y employees who are early tenure).

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

strongly disagree Supervisor/Manager Non-supervisory fiGure 17: keY emPLoYee indices BY Position

strongly agree

4.3.3 differences between supervisory and nonsupervisory employees figure 17 shows the differences in means of each of the key employee indices for non-supervisory employees and for supervisors/managers. A number of important differences appeared, which are highlighted in the sidebar on right. Again, we examined the combined influence of position and generational grouping on employee attitudes. We found that the indices engagement, Perceived organisational Support and Perceived Job Security were most influenced by position and generational grouping, when these two factors were considered together. Gen Y employees are less engaged generally. When they are not in supervisory positions, this problem is compounded. the same holds for both organisational Support and Job Security.

non-suPervisorY emPLoYees… …rate Lower on: engagement organisational Commitment Citizenship Behaviours training & Development opportunities Perceived Supervisory Support Perceived organisational Support Job Security suPervisors/manaGers… …rate Lower on: Co-worker Performance Job Switching Behaviours Quit intentions

“Gen Y employees are less engaged generally, and when they are in non-supervisory positions, this problem is compounded”

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strongly disagree full-time Part-time Casual

strongly agree

fiGure 18: keY emPLoYee indices BY emPLoYment status

4.3.4 differences by employment status casuaL emPLoYees… …rate hiGher on: Co-worker Performance Job Switching Behaviours Quit intentions Part-time and fuLL-time emPLoYees… …rate hiGher on: engagement Citizenship Behaviours Job Security organisational Support Supervisory Support figure 18 presents the differences in means of each of the key employee indices for each type of employment status: casual, part-time and full-time. important differences between the groups are highlighted in the sidebar on the left. While casual employees are significantly less engaged than part-time or fulltime employees, their rating of job satisfaction is higher than both the other groups. this finding lends weight to the argument made earlier that an employee can be quite satisfied with their job, but not possess the desired levels of engagement known to influence employee behaviours.

We also examined the combined influence of employment status and generational grouping. the indices training & Development opportunities, Job Security, Rewards, Co-worker Performance and Citizenship Behaviours were most affected by employment status and generational grouping, when these two factors were considered together. in short, these attitudes are improved in Gen Y employees when they are in part-time positions, and even more so in full-time positions. Having presented the results of the data collection, we will now highlight what we see as the ‘ten most important findings’ from the survey of hospitality employees.

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4.4 ten keY findinGs from the surveY of hosPitaLitY emPLoYees

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

on attitudes where the higher the score the better, Gen Y generally rates Lower.

on all attitudes where the lower the score the better, Gen Y rates hiGher.

within the Gen Y group, the younger cohort has Less favouraBLe ratings than the older cohort.

aLL employees place the highest value on joB satisfaction, followed by rewards and joB securitY.

Gen Y employees place a greater value on recoGnition than non-Gen Y employees.

Gen Y employees place a Lower value on being personally attached to their work organisation.

Gen Y employees, especially newly employed ones, are more LikeLY to switch jobs unexpectedly.

hotel employees generally rate critical indices more favouraBLY than restaurant or club employees.

Long-term employees tend to rate all attitudinal measures more favouraBLY than less tenured employees.

Gen Y employees in non-supervisory roles are significantly Less enGaGed than supervisory Gen Y employees.

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5
Discussion of results
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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

hospitality employees are the link between the customer and the organisation – for most customers, the service they receive at the hands of one employee will inform their impression of the business as a whole. at the same time, employees will often treat customers the way they feel treated by their organisation. in this way, internal human resource management practices become ‘visible’ to the customer. it is vital then, that hospitality businesses, regardless of size or industry sector, establish effective human resource management strategies that facilitate the delivery of high levels of service quality. The employee indices included in this study are measures of various aspects of the internal functioning of an organisation – aspects that have been linked to important business outcomes such as increased profits, customer retention, positive word-of-mouth and lower staff turnover. the most notable broad finding from this study was that the Gen Y employee group generally rates those employee indices that an organisation should be attempting to maximise as lower than their non-Gen Y counterparts. Correspondingly, the attitudes and behaviours that an organisation would want to minimise are stronger in the Gen Y group of employees. in addition to this, an analysis within the Gen Y employee group demonstrates that there are statistically significant differences of opinion within this cohort. Generally speaking, the youngest Gen Y employees (the 3rd

wave) rate what is happening to them in their organisation significantly lower than their older Gen Y counterparts. this suggests that the younger the employee, the more challenging it is to positively affect the critical attitudes that are linked with positive organisational outcomes. these findings highlight the importance of making a good first impression on new employees, particularly when they are in their first job. this idea is further supported by comparing the results of employees of different employment tenure. on the whole, the employees of early tenure rate their current workplace experiences significantly less favourably than do their long-tenured counterparts.

“These findings highlight the importance of making a good first impression on new employees, particularly when they are in their first job.”
the ‘on-boarding’ of new employees and successful socialisation to their new organisation and workplace, is a cornerstone of long-term retention of staff. the orientation process is crucial for all employees, regardless of their

generational grouping. the findings of this study show that when new employees are also young Gen Y staff, this process is all the more challenging to get right. that is not to say that employees in their mid- and long-tenure should be forgotten! this study found that mid-tenure employees had the lowest levels of job satisfaction of the three tenure groupings, as well as the lowest perceptions of rewards and fairness. ongoing employee development and support strategies are important so that longer-term staff are not taken for granted or forgotten. Attempting to maximise the tenure of employees is an obviously sound objective for any business. However, while the benefit of lower turnover is usually expressed in terms of reduced costs in the shortterm, what becomes apparent from this study is that increasing the length of employee tenure has advantages in terms of improved employee attitudes, and therefore, positive business performance in the long-term. this study also found that of all the indices, Job Satisfaction is most important to employees, regardless of generational grouping or other variables. following this, it was generally found that Job Security and Rewards are the next important factors for employees. All employees, regardless of their generation, place a high value on being satisfied with their job, feeling secure in it and being well rewarded for doing it. of course it is not possible to know whether the Job Security finding is in part influenced by the Global Financial Crisis (GfC). Before the GfC, Gen Y

“There is obviously a gap between what employees want and what they are receiving.”
had never experienced times of financial hardship, and this had been suggested by many as one of the reasons for the ‘radical’ differences in their workrelated attitudes. in a focus group run by the researchers at the beginning of this research project (just prior to the 2008 stock-market crash), an 18 year old apprentice chef, when faced with the question “what will you do if you can’t find a job?”, simply could not comprehend what she was being asked. the results of the current study suggest that Gen Y place a higher value on being secure in their jobs than has been suggested anecdotally. turning to the importance of rewards, it is also interesting to note that employees rate this in the top three most important indices. in contrast, when examining what the employees actually perceive as happening in their current workplace, the Rewards index has the lowest rating out of all the critical employee measures. there is obviously a gap between what employees want and what they are receiving. this study also found that Gen Y employees place a higher value on being recognised for their work than do non-Gen Y employees. Recognition was the only index that Gen Y respondents rated as more important that non-Gen Y respondents. one of the common descriptions of Gen Y in the popular media is that they need constant recognition of their contribution to the work, even for tasks that may seem mundane and trivial. the findings of this study may lend some weight to this argument. By integrating the findings from each phase of the Gen Y research project (literature review, focus groups and survey), we are able to compare the nature of workplaces that Baby Boomers, Gen x, and Gen Y expected as each entered the workforce. the key life events, dominant characteristics and preferred management styles for each generation are summarised in figure 19. this summary is not intended as a guide for how to connect to each generation, but rather, to provide an understanding and empathy for the experiences and expectations that different age groups may bring to the workplace. As society has evolved, so too have workplaces and the expectation of the workers in them. You will probably find that some of the Gen Y approaches indicated in our summary will be equally as effective for Baby Boomer and Gen x employees. to wrap up the discussion of the study results, it should be noted that all employees are individuals with their own personalities. no two are ever going to be alike. While it can be useful to discover trends in attitudes and opinions across groups of people, such as generational cohorts, there are many other factors that can influence work-related attitudes and values. As has been demonstrated here, tenure, position and employment status influence attitudes, before we even

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“All employees, regardless of their generation, place a high value on being satisfied with their job, feeling secure in it and being well rewarded for doing it.”
begin to consider a range of other influences such as cultural background, family size, and personality traits. The consequence of this for hospitality businesses is that, for optimal business outcomes, all employees must be considered as individuals. there is no blanket approach to managing all human resources. A parallel to the development of marketing can be drawn here. the move away from mass production to mass customisation is one that is needed for the management of human resources. this is going to mean figuring out what motivates each and every employee, Gen Y or not. it is not a matter of what motivates you will motivate them, nor even what you think will motivate them. Supervisors will necessarily become more and more integral to the human resource management process, as the first and most frequent point of employee contact. Accordingly, they will need the appropriate skills and knowledge to effectively manage the employee relationship. this discussion has shed some light on how the key findings from this survey might impact on the management of human resources in hospitality businesses. But what can managers and owners do about all of this? The next section will present some practical suggestions that can improve the employment relationship between hospitality businesses and their Gen Y employees. formative life events values at work boomErs born 1945 - 1964 Post-war prosperity Largest generation Work ethic Loyalty Hierarchy Financial security Responsibility Social skills GEnEratIon x born 1965 - 1978 Globalisation Downsizing Technology boom Achievement Independence Equity Career progression Opportunity Technology skills Education Social / networking skills Career advisors Experts Observation Recommendation Training Promoting Visual examples Demonstrations Programmed Dialogue Coordination Doers Regional Medium-term goals Selling “What’s in it for me?” GEnEratIon Y born 1979 - 1994 Prosperity / uncertainty Violence / terrorism Skills shortages Ownership / involvement Individuality Social responsibility Job variety Creativity IQ / inquisitive Networking / tolerance Multitasking Interpersonal / soft skills Direction / focus Parents Internet Peers / social networks Perception Experience Innovating Empowering Hands-on learning Participation Interactive Multi-format Consensus Feelers Global Short-term wants Involving “Here’s what I think”

motivations for work Important qualities Possibly lacking in Influences over career choice shapers of career perceptions and views key management tools key communication tools typical training style typical leadership style Influencers and values management approach

Technology skills Parents Authorities Tradition Reputation Recruiting Supervising Technical data Evidence Formal Monologue Control Thinkers Local Long-term needs Telling “Yes boss”

fiGure 19: comParison of characteristics: Gen Y, Gen x and BaBY Boomers 30

30

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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

Adapted by the researchers from the findings of this project and a combination of other sources, including Downing (2006); Eisner (2005) and QASA (n.d.).

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Photo courtesy of Mirvac Hotels and Resorts

6
implications for the hospitality industry
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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

we cannot overemphasise the point that the Gen Y employee should be viewed as a management opportunity rather than a challenge. they are, after all, the leaders of the future. Leading organisations around the world identify ‘challenges’ and create strategies and actions which turn these challenges into vital competitive advantage. Accordingly, we suggest that there are human resource strategies that any hospitality business can tailor to their particular operations and employee base that can produce positive outcomes for the business, whether in terms of increased revenues and profits, higher productivity, improved customer retention, or decreased staff turnover. Based on the various phases of the Gen Y research project, including an extensive review of trade and academic publications, a series of focus groups with hospitality employees and owners/ managers and a large-scale survey of hospitality employees in Queensland, we have drawn some conclusions about ‘best practice’ in the management of Gen Y hospitality employees. We present our conclusions in the form of Ten Recommendations for Managing Gen Y. these suggestions do not necessarily all correspond directly to the findings in the previous section,

but rather, from a holistic analysis of all information and data sourced throughout the research project. 6.1 ten recommendations for manaGinG Gen Y 1. Get it riGht, riGht from the start Perhaps more important than ever is ensuring that you hire well. And this is not only because of the tangible and intangible costs of turnover, but rather because of the importance Gen Y places on co-worker relationships and value alignment with their employer. Recruitment and selection is often ad hoc in the hospitality industry. Frequently it is done by line managers with little or no training in the necessary knowledge, skills and attributes necessary for this task). Yet there is no doubt that effective HRm practices (particularly recruitment and selection) do not happen by accident! Before recruiting and hiring, consider the values of the potential recruit, Gen Y or otherwise, and how the person will fit with the organisation. too often, recruiters focus on a candidate’s current level of skills and knowledge, rather than on the bigger picture of the individual, what they believe in and their general disposition to work and to life. Capitalise on one or more of the

“Gen Y needs to be seen as a management opportunity rather than a challenge. They are, after all, the leaders of the future.”

many tools available these days, such as behavioural interviewing techniques. this can allow you to strike the perfect balance between skills needed for a particular role, together with a blend of values between the prospective employee and the organisation. Hiring is always important, but we believe that to effectively manage Gen Y, it is even more important. once hired, the person with right values and the right orientation for your business can develop the specific skills that are necessary to be fully competent in the appropriate role. in a reciprocal process, when a business provides development and learning opportunities for the new Gen Y employee, they will likely respond in kind with commitment to the organisation and positive customer-oriented behaviours. for Gen Y recruits, it does not stop there, as they need ongoing performance appraisals and recognition (not just annually!). following careful recruitment processes, the orientation and socialisation of new employees is crucial. Developing the kinds of positive attitudes that lead to important business outcomes is more challenging in early tenure employees, particularly if they are Gen Y, so careful attention must be paid to them at this stage. Regular follow-ups to check on progress and provide feedback will be positively received by Gen Y employees. Don’t leave it six weeks (or worse still, till the 3 month probation period is up!) to find out how your new employee is fitting in – stay in touch with them on a weekly, even daily, basis (clever use of technology can be helpful here).

2. Get enGaGed! emPLoYee enGaGement is essentiaL employee engagement has been shown to be one of the most important drivers of positive business outcomes. Benchmark global hospitality companies claim to be able to predict changes in the operating performance of individual business units based on changes in the level of employee engagement! engaging the Gen Y employee is about involving them in how and why the business operates, rather than just following a set of instructions without asking questions. One way to do this is to give all your employees the opportunity to experience your business as a customer would, so they really can put themselves in the customer’s shoes. for the Gen Y employee, this will be particularly important. many of them will not necessarily have ever experienced the type of hospitality operations you are running from the perspective of a customer. many of the large hotel chains already offer their employees a free night in-house. Restaurants and clubs, instead of offering a minor staff discount, should consider offering free or significantly discounted dining opportunities to their staff. this is something that any business can do, regardless of size or industry sector – it is not a large cost and the returns are immeasurable. Another way to increase the level of engagement in your Gen Y staff is to really show that you value their input. Actively seek their feedback on operational processes and customer service issues. of course, you will never be able to action everything they suggest, but with an atmosphere

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of open dialogue, you will be able to explain why you might not be able to execute particular suggestions. As an added benefit, every now and then, you will get a gem of an idea (for free!) that will re-shape your business and its profit margins for the better. We cannot emphasise enough the importance of employee engagement for your business – already the large hotel companies actively measure how engaged their employees are on a regular basis, and managers are rewarded, in part, on the basis of improving these scores. We would like to spend more time addressing this topic, but it is beyond the scope of this report. instead we refer the reader to an excellent textbook that is not only easy to read but also extremely insightful – “employee engagement: tools for Analysis, Practice and Competitive Advantage”31. 3. BuiLd a comPanY cuLture that is nurturinG and coLLaBorative 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

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31 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.

“Following careful recruitment, the orientation and socialisation of new employees is crucial.”
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 work 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 financial flash 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 find 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 generations Perhaps due to their reliance on technology, this generational group seems to be a bit behind in faceto-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 expecting. Supervisors should be given appropriate training and support to develop the skills necessary to deal with the intricacies

32

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.

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Photo courtesy of Mirvac Hotels and Resorts

“…communicating with your employees in their own ‘language’ will help to engage your Gen Y employees.”
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 fit into a computer-generated SMS? Can you ‘advertise’ today’s shifts through one facebook message to all available employees? 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 employee. 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 fit within the cost restraints of a hospitality operation, reflect on how this concept might be adapted to fit 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 flash, 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. 7. revitaLise Your oLd recoGnition ProGrams Because of the value they place on praise, genuine work recognition programs are well received by Gen Y employees. employee recognition can take many forms – it can be from supervisor to employee (“thanks, great job today, you really are getting better at managing your section!”), from peerto-peer (employees nominating other team members for special recognition), team-based (recognition of revenue, profit or customer satisfaction targets achieved by the team), or organisationwide (publicised awards for outstanding performance or demonstration of company values). Be creative with your recognition schemes – with Gen Y, the more innovative and ‘off-the-wall’ the idea, the more likely it is to motivate them. Bring variety to the way your recognise employees – not everyone will be motivated to perform in the same way, so be prepared to recognise people for different talents and skills. take care to make recognition programs genuine and believable! A token name on a badly kept ‘employee of the month’

33

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Palfrey, J., & Gasser, U. (2008). Born digital: Understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York: Basic Books.

plaque will often be disregarded as a motivator – programs that are viewed as being awarded on a cyclical rather than a merit basis will not have the desired impact. Well thought out recognition programs have the dual effect of not only motivating employees but they also reinforce a company’s culture – by recognising best practice and desired behaviours consistently and publically, all employees learn what the company really values and rewards. 8. Be PrePared to Be more fLexiBLe than You thouGht necessarY Gen Y employees are looking for a new mix of rewards in return for their efforts at work. this includes such things as flexible work arrangements and opportunities to engage in socially responsible actions (volunteering, green initiatives etc.). Cold hard cash is not necessarily the prime motivator for this group. the challenge is to redesign incentives that inspire and motivate this new generation. the plus side is that because these reward and recognition initiatives can be less costly to fund, a business is able to offer more options, and employees can ‘customise’ their reward options to suit their own preferences. While Baby Boomers and Gen x have more fixed ideas about work hours, Gen Y does better with flexible hours and schedules and remote work options. they see themselves as being able to work anywhere, anytime. Jobs, where possible, must be designed to accommodate these workers’ personal lives – not the other way around. naturally this presents a

challenge for the hospitality industry (remote work options can only be arranged for non-customer contact, non-operational employees, for example). At the same time however, there are characteristics of the industry that lend themselves to flexibility (e.g. non-standard hours and opportunities for cross-training in different roles). the key is to be prepared to offer different arrangements to different staff members in accordance with individual needs and situations – applying the same set of ‘rules’ to everyone is not going to work in the future. Another aspect of the work environment to give serious attention to is your uniform and grooming policy. Are you basing your current policies on your own generational upbringing? Gen Y values working in a ‘cool’, ‘hip’ place, so uniform standards can go a long way towards attracting and motivating this group. Yes, this is going to mean being more open-minded about tattoos, piercings and hair colour and style (and those coloured plastic wristbands they all seem to want to wear!). of course, the expectations of your customers have a strong influence on appropriate uniform and grooming standards – but if there is any room for allowing your employees to express their individuality through their appearance, it should not be discouraged for the sake of it alone. You might not be able to relax your dress standards due to regulations, market niche or other valid reasons – yet it may still be possible to introduce ‘funky’ modern colours and styles to your uniforms.

9. find waYs for the new to Learn from the oLd (and vice versa!) the Baby Boomer generation is fast approaching retirement. in a decade from now, the mantle of leadership will have almost completely passed to the next generations. the implications of this for knowledge management, within organisations of all types, are profound. Yet within this, there is an opportunity for hospitality businesses. never has there been a better time for older employees to engage with younger employees, to impart their knowledge, skills and wisdom built over decades of experience. With such a large bubble of employees set to disappear from the workforce, the potential for lost expertise is great. this is particularly the case in the hospitality industry, where constantly changing operational processes and customer tastes creates a continuing state of re-invention. mentoring provides the perfect opportunity for passing on this individually stored knowledge, whilst at the same time providing alternative development and engagement opportunities for Gen Y employees. it does not have to necessarily be a formal process, as it might in a larger organisation – the relationship can be informal and suited to how both the mentor and mentee would like to interact. And remember that the process is a two-way street – there is plenty for a Gen Y to teach their older mentor, improved information technology skills being the obvious example.

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10. recoGnise and resPect individuaLitY it is clear from the results of this study that how employees are managed cannot be approached from a ‘one size fits all’ perspective. thoughtful consideration must be given to individual characteristics and motivations. Be very careful not to just lump each person into a generational group based on their age. everyone is an individual, although the research does demonstrate some strong indication of likely attitudinal differences across people from different generational groupings. nevertheless, the research also demonstrates that industry sector, tenure, position and employment status can have an effect on attitudes, over and above the effect of generational grouping. A theme that emerged from the literature review and the focus groups regarding Gen Y was that, for all that they like to follow trends and be part of a large and intricately connected social network, they value their individuality and freedom of expression. this is a generation that expects managers to know every employee’s name and to be given personal attention. it is always important to remember that everyone is motivated differently, and while broad HRm policies will exist at the corporate and/ or unit level, direct supervisors will need some amount of flexibility and discretion in order to tailor their approach to each individual employee, regardless of generational grouping.

for ease of reference the next page summarises our ten recommendations. this brings us towards the end of our summary of the Gen Y project and the conclusions we have drawn as a result of an extensive research program. We would like to emphasise that how each hospitality business implements our suggestions will be unique. Size of establishment, number of employees, resources and a host of other factors will determine what an organisation can do. the key message is that it is possible to engage with Gen Y employees, with the right set of strategies.

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6.2 ten recommendations for manaGinG Gen Y: summarY

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Get it riGht, riGht from the start

Get enGaGed! emPLoYee enGaGement is essentiaL

BuiLd a comPanY cuLture that is nurturinG and coLLaBorative

encouraGe oPPortunities for LearninG and Growth throuGh chaLLenGinG work

do not to assume that Gen Y has had the same ‘home traininG’ as Past Generations

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

revitaLise Your oLd recoGnition ProGrams

Be PrePared to Be more fLexiBLe than You thouGht necessarY

find waYs for the new to Learn from the oLd (and vice versa!)

recoGnise and resPect individuaLitY

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7
final remarks
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Generation Y AS HoSPitALitY inDUStRY emPLoYeeS

Generational change, and the many associated challenges, is everpresent. this research project has been particularly interested in learning about the psyche of the Gen Y worker, although the challenges of generational change go beyond workforce issues. after all, it is easy to wonder if some of the characteristics often used to describe Gen Y may be, at least to some extent, a self-fulfilling prophecy. one unknown to us is this: How much of the idiosyncratic characteristics of Gen Y employees are in fact influenced or driven by what Gen Y employees hear in the media and from each other? Hence, do they really differ as much as the rhetoric suggests? And how reliant are these attitudes are on economic conditions? Or are the majority of these traits fixed in the psyche of this group? We suggest that they are more fixed than conditional on economic circumstances. Perhaps the most relevant question regarding generational differences in attitudes relates to how enduring the traits are. Are the work-related values and behaviours that Gen Y now displays going to be ongoing? Will Gen Y still need constant recognition for their work as they mature into middle age and beyond? It is not possible to determine the answer to this through a single point in time study such as this one. nevertheless, it has been possible to identify that, right now, there are substantial differences in the attitudes and opinions of Gen Y and non-Gen Y staff. this in itself is a very important situation for hospitality owners and managers to pay attention to.

the current study benefited from a large sample size across a diverse range of hospitality businesses in different geographic locations around Queensland. Still, certain limitations of the study must be acknowledged. the reader is advised to take these into account when forming their own interpretation of the results. for greater statistical rigour, a random sampling approach is preferable. this would mean randomly selecting a certain portion of all employees at each participating business, contacting those specific employees, and requesting their participation in the survey. obviously, this would have been highly impractical and more costly for each business involved. As a result, a convenience sampling approach was adopted where participants were selected based on their availability. this approach may have some implications for how generalisable the results are to the wider population of hospitality employees, but the researchers believe that the final sample was relatively representative of the wider population. there are many other possible considerations which could moderate or affect the results of this type of research program. it is difficult to try to fully disentangle the reasons why generations differ and how they differ, because these age group differences could be the result of other reasons than only generational grouping. for example, there is the ‘Life Cycle’ effect, where young people today will become more like today’s older people as they themselves age. there are also ‘Period effects’, where major world or regional

events can affect all generations, however, the way in which they affect different generations is more related to where people are in there lives rather than just their age at the time. in addition, whilst there are many differences across generations, there are also similarities and overlaps. even with masses of longitudinal or time-series data, it would be nearly impossible to statistically separate one from the other with absolute certainly. However, like any research, we hope this report will in the very least provide some empirical evidence and assist with managerial thought and decisionmaking. in closing, just as those who market products and services must remember that they themselves are not the customer, managers must remember that they are not the ones serving a great majority of the customers. that is to say, strategies for managing employees must be tailored to suit the employee and enhance their performance, not to fit the style and preferences of the manager. the businesses that succeed in the ever more competitive hospitality environment will be led and managed by people with open minds, people with the energy and drive to satisfy the variety of workplace demands made by today’s employees. never resting on their laurels, such hospitality leaders and managers will be constantly monitoring the changing attitudes of successive generations of their workers.

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Appendix A – employee indices: survey items

joB satisfaction “All in all, i am satisfied with my job” enGaGement “i exert a lot of energy performing my job” “i stay until the job is done” “i really put my heart into my job” “my own feelings are affected by how well i perform my job” “Time passes quickly when I perform my job” “i am rarely distracted when performing my job” orGanisationaL citiZenshiP Behaviours “i obey company rules and regulations even when no-one is watching” “i am one of the most conscientious employees” “i always focus on the positive side, rather than on what is wrong” “i try not to find fault with what my organisation is doing” “i attend meetings that are not mandatory, but are considered important” “i read and keep up with organisation announcements, memos and so on” “i am mindful of how my behaviour affects other people’s jobs” “i try to avoid creating problems for other co-workers” “i help others who have heavy workloads” “I help orient new people even though it is not required” “i am always willing to lend a helping hand to others around me” orGanisationaL commitment “i am proud to tell others i work at my organisation” “Working at my organisation has a great deal of personal meaning to me” “i feel a strong sense of belonging to my organisation” “i feel personally attached to my work organisation”

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Perceived orGanisationaL suPPort “my organisation really cares about my well-being” “my organisation cares about my opinions” “my organisation often asks about my opinions” “Help is available from my organisation when i have a problem” “if given the opportunity, my organisation would take advantage of me” Perceived suPervisorY suPPort “my supervisor cares about my opinions” “my supervisor often asks about my opinions” “my supervisor really cares about my well-being” “my supervisor strongly considers my goals and values” “my supervisor shows a lot of concern for me” Perceived fairness “The outcomes (eg. rewards or punishment) I receive reflect the effort I have put into my work” “the outcomes (eg. rewards or punishment) i receive are justified given my performance” “Workplace and organisational procedures are applied consistently” “i am able to express my views and feelings when workplace and organisational procedures are applied” traininG & deveLoPment oPPortunities “my organisation has made a substantial investment in me by providing formal training and development opportunities” rewards “my pay is competitive compared to similar jobs in my organisation” “my pay is competitive with similar jobs in other companies” “my organisation offers its employees a competitive benefits package”

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cont.

recoGnition “my supervisor praises me when i do a better than average job” “my supervisor gives me special recognition when my work performance is especially good” “My supervisor would quickly acknowledge an improvement in the quality of my work” Perceived joB securitY “i will be able to keep my present job as long as i wish” “my current organisation will not cut back on the number of hours i work a week” “i am secure in my job” Perceived emPLoYaBiLitY “it would be easy for me to get a new and comparable job” Quit intentions “I frequently think of quitting my job” “i am planning to search for a new job in the next 12 months” “if i have my own way, i will be working for this organisation one year from now” joB switchinG Behaviours “to me, switching jobs (to other organisations) is kind of fun” “i switch jobs (to other organisations) because my colleagues tend to do so” “i tend to change jobs (to other organisations) for no apparent reason” co-worker Performance “if my co-workers do not work hard, then neither do i"

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David Solnet, PhD
PROJECT LEADER David Solnet is a Senior Lecturer in Service Management and leads the Hospitality Management section at the University of Queensland’s School of Tourism. He joined the University of Queensland in 2002, following an 18 year career in the restaurant industry where he worked nearly every position - including a number of years managing high volume kitchens - and other management roles in the USA and Australia. His most recent industry position was as general manager for the highly successful Bretts Wharf Restaurant in Brisbane. His research and teaching interests align with his industry advisory work, where he is a principal partner in Shift Directions, a company that provides a range of management development and service quality improvement programs to Australian businesses. David has authored many peer-reviewed academic papers in top international journals, and has written a number of book chapters for leading textbooks. His research interests include turnaround from declining performance, service culture and climate, and managing the employee-customer interface in customer service. David Solnet is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: david.solnet@uq.edu.au

Anna Hood, MBus (Int. Hotel Mgmt)
RESEARCH OFFICER Anna Hood joined the University of Queensland’s School of Tourism in 2008 as a researcher and lecturer after a 12 year career in the hospitality industry. Anna worked predominantly in food & beverage management in international hotels, resorts and casinos and also spent some time in human resources as a training co-ordinator. Anna now lectures in Food & Beverage Management and Hotel Industry Management, as well as working on a number of research projects primarily aimed at the development and enhancement of the hospitality workforce. Currently undertaking her PhD in the area of human resource and service management in the casino industry, Anna has published six refereed articles in leading international journals and a further six papers published and presented at international hospitality and tourism conferences.

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