Managing Gen Y: Engagement and Retention of Gen Y in the Hospitality Industry
By Judy Hou Directeur General/CEO , Glion Institute of Higher Education Worldwide | January 19, 2014
In Part 1 of this 2-part article, six defining characteristics of Gen Y and their Eastern equivalent 'Post-80's' are identified and explored with focus on how these key traits become visible within the day-to-day workings of the international hospitality industry, particularly with insight into the Greater China region.
A perspective was given on how Gen Y employees may best be placed within a hospitality organization; how their skill-sets should best be applied within the service industry; the kind of organizational structure and corporate cultures they may best operate under; and matters of Gen Y's values, perceptions, expectations, desires, and motivations.
These generation specific characteristics are central to HR's concern, particularly in the people-centric sector such as hospitality. In the second part of the series, we will take a closer look at how managers can address each characteristic in order to harness Gen Y's strengths and address what may be seen as their challenges, evolving engagement and retention strategies ahead of the next era.
Characteristic #1: Gen Y's are Skilled with Technology
Gen Y are "digital natives", they are likely to be familiar with cutting edge applications and leading technologies alongside high-speed Internet access. As a basic requirement, providing the correct tools for the job at hand and smoothing out any web access and data storage problems will create a amiable "connected" environment for Gen Y. Interactive technology can be implemented to engage Gen Y through use of instant messaging, virtual meetings, and interactive game-liked training platforms, bringing convenience and networking opportunities to Gen Y staff members. New technology proposals from Gen Y should be entertained if they can be justified and training sessions in relevant software should be encouraged or coordinated so that Gen Y can adapt to the market.
It may be important to allow Gen Y to communicate with others in their own preferred methods, may that be via VoIP platforms, SMS, or email; a reasonable idea if relations with staffs of earlier generations and relations with the all important guest are not impacted. In China this may involve obtaining a legal VPN so international staffs can access blocked websites if they require these platforms to perform work duties, or even for their use after hours to contact loved ones overseas. Based on your social media policy, outline how you expect social media to be used in the workplace and consider opening these connection portals, as access to online networks seems as necessary as breathing for Gen Y. However, when it comes to external online communications it may be best to lay out some guidelines for how key relationships should be handled such as industry partners and guests, both new and loyal, so that client and customer expectations are met in this area.