Want to Motivate Gen Y Floor Staff?

By Brian Mitchell Principal, Mitchell Performance Systems | July 13, 2014

Co-authored by Evan Mitchell, Senior Consultant, Mitchell Performance Systems

The fifth article in a series on improving revenue and profits from F&B

Generation Y is without doubt the most obsessed about and hyper-analysed age grouping in human history. Put under microscopes, poked, prodded, their behaviour second guessed, they are the pet subject of sociologists, demographers, and cultural commentators. There's a fascination with this generation, about what makes them tick, and what their unconventional view of the world means for those who have to deal with them. One issue that naturally receives a lot of attention is their potential as employees. Opinions here range from the most wildly optimistic to the cynically pessimistic. Depending on whom you read Gen Y can be the most wonderful employee prospects, or irredeemably useless.

We've conducted our own exhaustive examination of this generation, from a consumer purchasing perspective. It began as a research project for a paper to the 2013 World WineHealth Conference, on the social and psychological benefits of wine. This led to the development of an enterprise called Love & Wine, which applies digital marketing strategies to convert Gen Y (and younger Gen X) drinkers from junk beverages to wine brands – something not only commercially valuable, but socially responsible. During our research we identified twenty characteristics of this generation and its values. Some of these are directly relevant to the motivation of Gen Y employees in restaurant front of house roles.

The motivation of any employee begins at the beginning – in the recruitment process. The old adage of not making "a silk purse out of sow's ear" is never far wrong and should guide the selection of Gen Y as much as anyone else. But assuming the younger employee you've hired to work front of house has the basic personal characteristics for the role, how do you turn them into more than that? How do you make them a valuable employee, able to make a serious contribution to your F&B bottom line? First you need to recognize where to put your efforts. We suggest you go where the payoff is most likely. And with front of house staff this is via the beverage side of F&B – because there are more selling and service opportunities with beverages, particularly wine, than food. And they are easier acted upon.

Three important needs that strongly influence Gen Y behaviour are style, innovation, and image. Appealing to these values is a short cut to motivating this generation. And there's an effective way to do this with young front of house staff, using wine.

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