Bring Gen Z Employees to Foodservice

As more of Generation Z reaches adulthood, operators have to consider what this group wants not only when dining away from home but also when working in foodservice. Some Gen Zers—those born after the mid-1990s—view employment opportunities in the industry as résumé builders, while others look at them as viable career paths.
Knowing how to attract and retain these young employees will help build a successful staff during the years to come. Learn more about what they want from a workplace with these insights:

  • Generation Z is entering the industry earlier than previous generations, according to research from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and The Center for Generational Kinetics. The average age when surveyed Gen Z employees took their first job in foodservice was 16.5, compared with 18 for millennials. More than 70% of workers in both generations say that a restaurant is a good place for a first job.
  • They apply for jobs online but also inquire about openings through word of mouth. At least 60% of Gen Zers and millennials would use job search engines, check with current foodservice workers as well as friends and relatives, and visit restaurants in person to learn about positions for hire.
  • They’re looking for restaurants with positive reputations and recommendations—73% of younger workers say that a restaurant having a reputation as a good place to work would influence them to seek employment there. If a friend or relative has worked at the restaurant and enjoyed it, that would also sway their interest.
  • They’re eager to learn from job-related feedback and grow their skill set, with more than half expecting a promotion within their first year. Advice from coworkers can be beneficial, with 40% of Gen Zers and millennials saying that mentors help them improve their skills and 38% saying the same for their confidence.
  • Compensation is an important part of keeping them on staff. Good pay was the top reason that Gen Zers and millennials would definitely continue to work at a restaurant after six months, and 22% left a foodservice job because they didn’t earn enough money.
  • Having a passion for their work is also important. Research by Randstad and Future Workplace revealed that Generation Z would rather find a dream job than one with a high salary.
  • Employers who are flexible and transparent are appealing to Gen Zers. If they aren’t happy with how they’re treated, they’re likely to switch jobs, with three years in one position seeming like a long time.

What other traits have you observed about Gen Z when hiring in your operation? Reach out to us on Facebook or LinkedIn to tell us what you’ve noticed, and check our Tips page for more ideas to put to use in your operation.


Serving the Next Generation of Restaurant Leaders, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and The Center for Generational Kinetics, October 2018.
6 ways Gen Z will change the restaurant workplace, Restaurant Business, May 2017.

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