The millennial generation is the first to come of age in the new millennium (thus the name), which is notable in itself. But this generation is interesting in a variety of ways, especially in how it differs from the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers that hire them.

If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, you’ve noticed some of this generation’s distinctive features (according to Pew Research):

  • More racially/ethnically diverse than GenXers and Baby Boomers
  • High propensity toward academic achievement
  • Just six in ten were raised by both parents
  • Confident, self-expressive, liberal, and open to change
  • Upbeat about their economic future despite recent recession and heavy debt

While they respect their elders, and a majority of them go so far as to say the older generation is superior in work ethic and moral values, they are warier with others in general. Two thirds of surveyed Millenials agreed that “you can’t be too careful when dealing with people.” Which means they expect to be taken care of in ways that are different than the generations that preceded them.

Only 25 percent of Millennials are completely satisfied in their current job, according to Red Tree Data. So what do they tend to look for in restaurant employment?

  • Flexible schedule (26 percent)
  • Competitive pay and benefits (25 percent)
  • Favorable location (21 percent)
  • Growth opportunities (18 percent)

The restaurant industry is too regimented to conform to everything Millennials want so, as a restaurant owner, how can you align employee and customer needs so that everyone is satisfied? Consider checking as many of these boxes as possible:

  • Treat them with dignity by offering positive feedback
  • Create a fun work environment where they can nurture relationships
  • Be as flexible as possible with scheduling and job responsibilities
  • Try to have at least one millennial superior for each millennial employee
  • Provide a clear path to positions of greater responsibility, and mentoring
  • Encourage workers to share positive experiences on social media platforms
  • Build a brand that stands for something Millennials believe in
  • Embrace movements in the food industry like organics, hormone-free foods, ethically-sourced ingredients, farm-to-table menus, and using energy more efficiently.

Soon, the way restaurants operate will be a reflection of this generation’s uniqueness. As your youngest employees ascend toward positions of leadership, there will be some growing pains and miscommunications to be sure. Don’t lose sight of their promise and use their strengths to your advantage as they become an increasingly important part of your business.

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