When Millennials Become Managers

By Mark Heymann Chairman & CEO, Unifocus | August 13, 2017

Since millennials became the majority generation in the workforce in 2015 - and are on track to represent more than 50 percent by 2018, there has been a great deal of discussion around the challenges the generational divide poses to the boomers and Gen Xers who manage this younger cohort. Studies have scrutinized how millennials' priorities differ from those of their seniors in the workplace. They point to the millennials' desire for flexible scheduling as they strive for greater work-life balance.

Managers accustomed to playing it close to the vest are having to learn to share more information with their teams to suit the millennials' need to understand how their role impacts the organization and the community as a whole. And they are having to adjust their managerial style from a traditional top-down approach to more of a coaching role, eschewing formal annual reviews for more frequent feedback opportunities to help their millennial workers improve personal performance.

Now, as they become more deeply established in the workplace, millennials will begin to move into managerial roles themselves. And in doing so, they will find themselves in the unique position of overseeing an age-diverse workforce that spans four - and sometimes five - generations.

The 5G Workplace

An increase in the average retirement age and in life expectancy means a larger number of older Americans continue to work. While these are primarily boomers, there are still some traditionalists, also known as the silent generation, in the mix. On the other end of the spectrum, the vanguard of Generation Z has made its entry. With its oldest members currently around 24 years old, Gen Z will represent as much as 20 percent of U.S. workers by 2020.

Generational Mindsets

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Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.