Pub Skills: HR Summit

What we learned about Gen Z and Millennials at the Pubs Skills: HR Summit

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Pub skills: The latest HR Summit took a deep dive into young employee's position in the workplace
Pub skills: The latest HR Summit took a deep dive into young employee's position in the workplace

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They're gradually taking over the hospitality industry, but who exactly are Millennial and Generation Z employees?

The fact that 61% of cocktail bar chain The Alchemist’s staff are under 25-years-old is evidence enough that young workers are making the hospitality industry their own. 

A focal point of The Morning Advertiser​’s Pub Skills Summit on 27 February, members of Generation Z are born after 1995. If they’ve not graduated from university they’re about to and if they skipped the traditional academic route altogether they’ve likely got a firm grasp on the career ladder already in a junior management position. 

Slightly older, Millennials range in age from their mid-twenties to mid-thirties and are most likely thinking about getting on the property ladder and starting a family. 

They can be of huge importance to your business – what do you need to know about the Generation Z and Millennial workforce?

Motivated by a clear career path

They are eager to develop, and as such, want to be shown a clear, transparent career path. As children of the recession, job security and progress are paramount.

According to research agency Youthsight’s State of the Youth Nation research, 67% of Generation Z describe themselves as ambitious, with 64% stating that the most important component of their workplace happiness is being shown a clear path to advance their career.

This is echoed by Brewhouse & Kitchen’s Kris Gumbrell, whose five-year-old brewpub business offers meticulously structured career pathways for all employees – setting out explicit, transactional steps for new starters to progress into hospitality sectors, such as becoming a beer or wine specialist. 

Brewhouse & Kitchen finds that 78% of leavers depart the company in the first three months of employment, meaning that the remaining 22% of new joiners tend to be there for the long haul.

Prefer working on a smaller scale

Research by Youthsight also flagged up the fact that younger workers aren’t overly enamoured by a large corporate environment.

Youghtsight's head of youth research and insight Josephine Hansom revealed that the ideal company size was between 11 and 50 people and that the age group were split when asked about their preference of group or solitary work – while 53% enjoy working with a team, 47% prefer to get their head down and go it alone.

They crave critique

Three of the four most important factors in workplace happiness revolved around having regular opportunities for quality time with their superiors.

According to Youthsight's UK-wide research, 60% of respondents said that positive feedback made them happy at work, with 54% answering that regular reviews – between two and four per year – was a major contributing factor to their workplace satisfaction, while 46% stated that regular face time with superiors was essential.

This is something utilised by Gumbrell and Brewhouse & Kitchen, who conduct bi-annual reviews with staff to discuss career progress. 

Preference for flexible working

Generation Z and Millennials place enormous value on flexibility in working hours, working from home and annual leave.

According to Youthsight research, two thirds prefer more money than more time off, with only 68% of young people using all of their allocated annual leave.

This has given rise to a trend of unlimited annual leave – a policy adopted by the likes of Netflix and Linkedin – with adopters finding that, while fostering trust, employees take more or less the same number of days off per year. 

The ‘side hustle’

Whether it’s podcasting, tutoring, running an Etsy shop or even craft brewing – under 35s love pursuing extra cash on the side.

Most often linked to a passion project or dusting off a qualification they’re not showing off at work, one in four people under the age of 35 has a “side hustle”.

In the age of the internship, Hansom highlights that 50% of side hustlers do so because of their need for money, while 49% do it to build skills and develop talent areas outside of their career.

The Alchemist’s head of brand development Jenny McPhee, and head of restaurant operations Hannah Plumb cite the importance of staff’s “third place” – where they are and what they’re doing when they’re not at work or at home.

Vital to help your business deal with Brexit

The British Beer & Pub Association director of public affairs David Wilson highlighted that net migration has fallen by 30,000 – with a large number of EU nationals returning to their country of origin following the vote to leave the European Union.

This trend is set to punch sizeable holes in the hospitality industry’s workforce. However, Jeremy Scorer, principal of HIT Training’s new licensed retail academy and Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development skills policy advisor Lizzie Crowley discussed the viability of apprentices as long-term solutions to employee shortages - with recent graduates and school leavers prime candidates to take up apprenticeships.

Show them your softer side

The key traits valued in a manger all revolve around communicating and connecting with staff. 

The top two most valued managerial characteristics are being supportive and communicating effectively, with the next four most valued traits being transparency, rewarding performance, being friendly, and being organised.

Don’t mention their age

Younger managers are enthusiastic but inexperienced. Nearly half of young managers (43%) are concerned about being less respected in the workplace because of their age.

The biggest challenges faced by younger managers included giving negative feedback, having to micromanage and delegating tasks.

Keep the bigger picture in mind

According to Deloittes, half of Millennials would take a pay cut to do work that matched their values – a rallying cry for employers to think about what they stand for and what they do.

Young people are happy to be given everyday tasks to do, but they want to feel that what they’re doing means something at a higher level and leaves some sort of footprint. 

Help them give something back

With 77% of Generation Z interested in volunteering opportunities, yet with the majority of the age group sceptical of company directives, The Alchemist has developed a unique Currency of Kindness​ scheme.

Offering staff members the chance to take time off work to volunteer for a charity without being penalised financially, each of The Alchemist’s 13 sites have partnered with different charities to offer their staff a chance to give something back.

Recruiters have already seen the benefit, with staff retention levels improving and candidates mentioning the cocktail bar chain’s charitable work in interviews as something that made their vacancies stand out.

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