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Gen Z Girls Taking A Selfie

A Guide to Understanding Gen Z in the Restaurant Industry

Have you mastered managing the Millennial worker? We sure hope so, because a new generation is already entering the restaurant workforce. This post-Millennial cohort does not fit the stereotypes that are often assigned to many of today’s youth. In fact, they are natural-born innovators that are redefining their societal labels. Experts say that this new generation, dubbed Gen Z, shares eight qualities that you need to understand if you wish to attract and retain top talent.

Generation Z (also known as the iGeneration, Gen Edge, Gen Z’s, or Gen Z-ers) supersedes Millennials, meaning they’re born in the late 1990’s. According to a new study, Generation Z now makes up approximately 27% of the population and 61 million Gen Z-ers are about to enter the workforce. When looking to hire Gen Z’s, you must first understand the characteristics that define them. Although all individuals that make up a generation do not share all the characteristics assigned to them, it is still valuable to understand which traits are most identified with Generation Z. Here are some of the characteristics we believe most impact hiring and retaining the newest members of your workforce:

1. Independent

Independence is a major difference between Gen Z’s and Millennials. Millennials are known to value teamwork and collaboration, whereas Gen Z’s favor self-sufficiency. Gen Z’s crave autonomy and are natural entrepreneurs. One article writes that 17% of Gen Z-ers (versus 11% of Millennials) intend to create their own businesses. This generation is eager to bring new, innovative ideas to the forefront.

2. Information-Obsessed

Gen Z-ers have no idea what life is like without the internet and social media. To say that Gen Z’s are tech-savvy is an understatement. They are focused on the latest trends, apps, and news. Gen Z’s are the ultimate multitaskers: they can search the web while writing a paper and texting their family in group chats simultaneously. This information-loaded life has shaped Gen Z to be comfortable in fast-paced environments, effective under pressure, and resourceful.

3. Driven by Growth

Gen Z’s want to enter the workforce as soon as possible. They aren’t interested in hopping from one company to the next, but in promotion and growth. According to Entrepreneur, “about one-third (34 percent) say they are most motivated by opportunities for advancement” as opposed to money. They’re even willing to skip traditional university to get ahead. According to Internships.com, 77% of current high schoolers are looking to get internships now to get their foot in the door. They do not equate money with success. If given the choice between a higher salary or a meaningful mentorship, they’d choose the mentor. In a restaurant, this sincere devotion can be a manager’s dream.

4. Thoughtfully Loyal

Gen Z’s are loyal both in person and online, but only towards brands and companies that they respect. Gen Z’s prefer to choose brands that give back, standing unwaveringly behind authentic concepts. If Gen Z admires your brand, they will rave about it to their digital following. Members of Gen Z are regulars on sites like Yelp and OpenTable, and if they love their experience, it’s likely they’ll leave a review accordingly. Even better, if a Gen Z-er loves where they work, you’ll have a new personal advertiser and brand ambassador.

5. Hospitable

Gen Z wants to feel special and often expect to be catered to, but it’s a two-way street. Gen Z-ers treat others the way they want to be treated. A sense of friendship and understanding is important to everyone, and Gen Z-ers aren’t afraid to admit it. In the restaurant biz, this means getting to know each patron that comes in, forming bonds, and remembering regulars’ orders.

6. Open-Minded

Gen Z-ers embrace diversity and seek equality. According to Business Insider, 48% of Gen Z-ers identify as non-Caucasian, and their generation is the most likely to have unconventional sexual orientations and interracial relationships. A sense of tolerance goes a long way in any work environment, but particularly in restaurant service, where you’re constantly dealing with unique people and situations.

7. Food-Focused

Dining out has become an integral part of Gen Z-er’s social routine. They view good food as an art form that must be shared, and they’re the reason that so many menu items appear on Instagram. Gen Z-ers even coined the phrase “if you didn’t take a picture, did you even eat it?”. This open-minded group is always looking to try eclectic, new dishes, and of course, publish their discoveries online.

8. Influential

Gen Z’s are young, but they are already experts at leveraging themselves on social media. This generation grew up being told, “be careful what you post online, you could ruin your reputation.” Gen Z decided to prove their parents wrong, creating powerful brand identities for large audiences. Gen Z-ers use the internet and social media to their advantage to promote their image, network, and influence their online community.

Gen Z’s are making a unique name for themselves, but they aren’t too different from the rest of us; they long to be understood and valued, and to find their own place in the world. From the inspired foodie photographer to the determined equality activist, there is no one mold that fits Gen Z. Each Gen Z-er brings her/his own mind to the table, maybe even proving to be your restaurant’s newest asset. If you want more information on Gen Z and their potential power in your restaurant, sign up for our E-Newsletter.

Phoebe

A recent graduate from the University of Tampa, Phoebe brings an understanding of journalism, PR, advertising & branding to the Absolute team. Her extensive customer service and cross-cultural communication experiences give her insights into various perspectives.

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