How to Attract the Newest Generation to Your Company

By Susan Tinnish Advisory Group Chair, Vistage | March 24, 2013

The recent economic downturn has lulled many organizations into forgetting that the United States will face a talent shortage as baby boomers approach retirement. This large cohort of employees has started or will be exiting organizations over the next few years. The birth rates of the younger generations means that companies must manage both a loss of organizational memory and implicit knowledge and also find ways to attract new workers. In terms of generations, the author divides the generations into the following categories:

  • Boomers - 1943-1960 (ages 49-66)
  • Generation X - 1961-1981 (ages 28-48)
  • Millenials (also called Gen Y) - 1982-2002 (ages 7-27)

The Population Reference Bureau cites that approximately 72 million Baby Boomers are approaching retirement age. Yet far fewer Millenials will be entering the workforce creating a challenge for companies to find ways to attract these potential employees into their organizations. Considered these challenges, the author proposes a three-prong strategy:

  • Attracting
  • Cultivating
  • Configuring

Attracting

Hospitality organizations must position their jobs and their organizations to attract the Millenials. Critical strategies for companies are to:

  • Ensure Millenials understand the hospitality industry - The hospitality industry is the second largest service industry in the world. Organizations must position jobs as interesting, requiring smart and talented people, opening up a world of travel, blending business skills with the ability to work with people, and offering challenging and variety work. Hospitality and hotel jobs allow Millenials to hone their people skills very quickly. They also learn a service aesthetic and how to think on their feet. Organizations must reverse the view of hospitality industry as a low-paying, low-skilled industry with limited opportunities.

  • Pique their interest with job descriptions - Write a job description that emphasizes variety, challenge, and how the position fits into the overall organization. Millenials are interested in competitive salaries – many are graduating with heavy debt loads after investing in education. They are also sufficiently savvy to value other non-financial and non-traditional benefits like skills gained, professional connections, and opportunities for growth and advancement. They are attracted to non-traditional benefits like gym memberships, travel/accommodation discounts, and flexible work hours.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.