The millennial generation has officially surpassed the baby boomers to become the largest living generation. They are, for want of a better word, everywhere.
Chances are, if you’re a restaurateur, you’ll have several millennial generation staff working at your establishment, and, if you’re not part of that generation yourself, you may also be aware that they often require a rather different managerial approach in order to get the best out of them.
This isn’t a slight on either their generation or the one from which you originate; we are all subject to generational conditioning and the many quirks, skills and beliefs we develop as a result of cultural influences and those issued by our peers.
Millennials were born between 1980 and 1999. Unlike the generation that followed, they witnessed the birth of the most significant technological development (the Internet) and lived through significant cultural changes as the fractious economic and political landscape of the 80s gave way to the Britpop-influenced party atmosphere of the 90s.
But, how do you manage such people in the restaurant business? Should they be handled differently to the older generation or the new kids on the block? We think there are three areas restaurateurs should focus on when it comes to managing millennials.
As noted, many of the people from the millennial generation can remember a time without the Internet, although just like the generation that followed them, millennials have adopted new forms of technology incredibly quickly.
Smartphones, social media and instant messaging services are now a huge part of their lives. This doesn’t give millennials carte blanche to have their heads buried in touchscreen devices when they should be clearing tables, but it does mean that restaurateurs should leverage their obsession with tech.
Make sure you put in place tools and systems they’ll instantly connect with. Online table reservations, on-screen table management and the ability for them to check their scheduling from a smartphone are great examples of satisfying the millennial generation’s hunger for beneficial technology and increasing efficiencies within your business while you’re at it.
2. Team environment
The rise of social media and group chat apps have turned millennials into highly collaborative creatures. They love to share and build networks, and you can tap into this sense of community in your restaurant.
Hold regular team meetings and encourage your staff to share their experiences with guests, along with any ideas they have that relate to the way in which the business is run. You don’t have to bow to their every whim (you’re the boss!), but giving them a platform from which to air their opinion should result in their productivity levels and job satisfaction increasing.
Structure in the restaurant industry is absolutely vital, but the millennial generation are a creative bunch. Make sure you provide plenty of flexibility within their working day in order to allow their creative side to shine.
Regularly ask for any ideas they have on how service could be improved and if you spot someone working outside of your predefined rules and procedures, check that they haven’t discovered a more efficient method before hauling them back into line.
Don’t stifle creativity.
Managing millennials in the restaurant trade isn’t about bowing to their every need or giving them special attention over anyone else – it’s about taking advantage of the habits, desires and personalities they’ve developed during some of the most iconic changes in society.
The more you get to know your millennials, and the more you encourage self-driven improvement, the harder they will work for your business and the more lasting an impression they’ll leave on your diners.