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Attracting and retaining millennials in hospitality: 8 expectations

6 minute read

Millennials. Some call them the first digital natives. And they have a wide array of expectations for potential employers and their career. Hospitality companies focused on retaining millennials should be aware of eight desires, recently reported research results tell us.

The qualitative research took place between 2008 and 2013. For each time period of the study, around thirty millennials were recruited with about half of them majoring in tourism (heritage management and tourism management) and another half majoring in hospitality (event management and hotel management). The following eight career choice categories reflect their expectations.

Retaining millennials solution 1: Financial and non-financial compensations

These refer to monetary and non-monetary benefits employees seek as compensation for their work. High salary, overtime pay, bonus, complimentary pay, paid sick leave, family subsidies, and good quality of staff canteen were often suggested by the informants. In fact, some millennials mentioned that β€œa competitive salary, at least no less than competitive firms” would be a must. Another informant added, β€œI can make a good living with a high salary. It is especially important as the inflation is high.”

Retaining millennials solution 2: Stability and security

Stability and security reflects the desire for employment opportunities that offer them stable income and working hours. Millennials prefer not to worry about being laid off even during financial difficulties of the economy or employer. A millennial informant expressed that β€œthe employer should guarantee no layoff like the government does”. Another male informant added that he preferred a job that is β€œstable without having to be on shift”. A female informant further suggested that β€œfor ladies, working overnight would be a torture”.

Retaining millennials solution 3: Flexibility and autonomy

These expectations refer to informants' desire to work for organizations that offer them job independence, freedom, and the ability to work in a flexible schedule. Some informants expressed grievances that they were being monitored by their superiors and surveillance cameras: β€œI don't want someone watching me behind my shoulders.”

They feel tremendous pressure from work under such a condition. Instead, they prefer to work for companies that offer them job autonomy, which allows them to enjoy more freedom do to things they like instead of working like a robot:

β€œI don't like to follow the procedure all the time because sometimes it may not make sense to me. However, if the company allows me to express my creativity, I will be more willing to work hard.”

Most of these concerns relate to operational positions that deal with customers directly and routinely. Some informants suggested that employers should empower them and allow them to work independently. As an informant said:

β€œThe organizations should give freedom to employees, and provide enough resources for them to finish their work.”

A flexible working environment and schedule also help to reduce job pressure and prompt job autonomy and creativity.

Retaining millennials solution 4: Work environment

Work environment embodies a wide range of organizational properties including the tangible working atmosphere such as the location, surrounding office environment, and more. As one informant pointed out, β€œthe environment should be modern with nice decoration and facilities.” Others look for staff rest area and WiFi services. A comfortable work environment also has an effect on employees' emotions, as one informant described: β€œIt directly influences my mood and enhances my spirit.” Some informants emphasized the importance of organizational leadership style and management culture in that companies should strive to have clear rules and policies that employees can follow.

Retaining millennials solution 5: Achievement

Achievement corresponds to tasks that could bring challenges to employees and at the same time empower them to complete tasks. Employees also want their ability and job performance to be recognized by management, and as a result, to receive promotion offers. As one informant noted, β€œI want to be promoted to be a manager within five years. With the knowledge that I learn from college, my previous working experience, and my ability, I am confident that can achieve this goal.”

Some informants also wanted to work for firms not only for internal promotion opportunities; they also wanted to help the company to succeed. For example, one informant said, β€œI want to work for organizations that could expand and be the top company in the industry.”

Retaining millennials solution 6: Self-development

Self-development refers to opportunities for employees to learn and enhance their skills. One informant expressed, β€œI want my boss to provide a clear guideline to me and teach me clearly in order to help me pick up my job quickly”. Other informants focused on learning from their jobs and improving their qualifications: β€œI hope that I can learn everything from my boss because it can help me to take care of complicated tasks and reduce the risk of making mistakes and getting fired.”

Another informant added: β€œmy superior should care about the subordinates, respect each other, give more learning opportunities and teach them useful skills.” Organizational practices that promote a learning organization are often desirable, as one informant mentioned: "I always seek opportunities for future development such as overseas training and job rotation.”

Retaining millennials solution 7: Communication

Communication refers to an organization's effort and willingness to listen to employees, recognize employees' feedback, engaging employees regularly, and hear honestly from employees without retaliation. An effective communication channel between employees and the top management also was deemed important. As one millennial mentioned:

β€œI want to be able to talk to the top management directly as they often ignore our requests.”

Effective communication among co-workers and superiors also play a role in job performance, as one respondent suggested:

β€œI like to work as a team because many ideas will be inspired through the cooperation with others… communication can make teamwork more efficient and effective.”

Engaging non-desk employees

Retaining millennials solution 8: Superior and peer relationships

Superior and peer relationships represent interpersonal relationships with co-workers and superiors. Being able to work with superiors who are friendly, caring, and responsible is important to many of the informants. As one respondent noted:

β€œI hope my boss is a kind person because then I can do my job without pressure. I also want to know more about my colleagues and wish the companies can bring employees together more often.”

Others look for friendly and helpful co-workers and superiors:

β€œMy superior should be generous and friendly. My peers should be nice and helpful to me”.

Another added: β€œMy superior should be responsible and not too strict on me.”

Guide: Choosing an internal comms tool

Katy is shaping the new voice of Speakap. When she's not writing for work, she's writing for fun. When she's not writing, then she's probably out looking for the best taco in the city.

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