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Restaurant Manager’s Opinion of Gen Z’s Work Ethic

Everyone is talking about the Millennials, leaving Generation Z another ‘invisible’ generation. If you are born between 1995 and 2019, restaurant managers are offering some tips to help you land a job in the hospitality industry, or keep GenZ from leaving your restaurant or hotel for another job.

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the Center for Generational Kinetics have taken a closer look into Gen Z and their professional expectations.

Here are some of their findings and how you can use them to give yourself an edge. One advantage that Gen Z have is that 73% of them started their working in the hospitality industry. Gen Z sees the hospitality industry as a good place to land their first job.

Gen Z wants to take on management roles. They want to move into specialty areas of the hospitality industry. This is shown in their work history. The average Gen Z started working 2 years before their millennial counterparts.

There are a few very attractive things that make Gen Z stand out from their peers.

  1. Almost 40% Want jobs in Upscale Restaurants.
  2. Gen Z are comfortable working with mentors.
  3. Gen Z are more ‘work place savvy’ than millennials. They review an employer’s reputation before applying for a job.

“Our new study shows that we have the opportunity to purposefully foster longer-term relationships with Gen Z,” said Rob Gifford, the NRAEF’s executive vice president. “We need to make sure that every young person who works in our industry has an overall positive experience that encourages them to stay.”

This doesn’t mean that Gen Z are the ‘dream employment’ workforce. They do share some unrealistic expectations with Millenials.

  1. More than half expect to start seeing a pay increase within 3 months. They even expect that people will tip them more.
  2. They expect their career to advance in the first year.

This would be a good thing if it was ambition, not entitlement. If an employee was willing to invest their spare time in courses, being mentored, and learning the job, then advancement is possible. But when I’m interviewing some 20 – 25 year old workers for an entry level hospitality job I find that many of them believe there should be a ‘better job’ for everyone on the floor. Or, that advancement is a right earned by working for a length of time, and is not dependent on learning how to do the job.

Another problem I see is the inability to understand that their job is to make the company money. There is a serious disconnect between their job and their goals, and the restaurant’s objective of staying in business.

This is a serious problem and is the reason why many Gen Z do not receive promotions because they become frustrated and leave the hospitality industry for jobs they perceive as better (31%). A large portion of GenZ leave to earn more money (21%)

How to Keep GenZ Working at your Restaurant or Hotel

  1. Offer mentoring
  2. Offer competitive salaries
  3. Set up a mentorship program in your restaurant or hotel that focuses on building skills and confidence building.

A good manager can take advantage of the eagerness of GenZ and their attraction to the hospitality industry.


This infographic is based on research results from a new national study by NRAEF (www.chooserestaurants.org) and The Center for Generational Kinetics (www.GenHQ.com)


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