Whatever you call them – Millennials, Gen Y, or the Me Me Generation – they’re here to stay. Gen Y make up the bulk of our workforce so it’s worth getting to know who they are, what motivates them and how we can best connect.
Our Gen Y team at Monsoon Poon were mostly born in the 90s – an era of huge growth in technology – so they prefer to communicate quickly and effectively through email, text and social networks. They’re motivated by clear goals, incentives and participation. They’re ambitious and confident, respond well to feedback, gratitude, look for growth opportunities and often expect things to move very quickly! Teamwork is very important and they need to feel involved.
To get the best results from a Gen Y team, your induction information should include career path options and opportunities for growth within the workplace. Communicate team events, reminders and meetings through text messages, and create a staff Facebook page where the team can communicate with managers and each other. Facebook can also be used to follow up training sessions with fun quizzes, photos and team announcements.
Celebrate Success, emphasize fun and create energy. Seek feedback from your team at meetings, on shift and through Facebook. Email your roster with some personal notes – congratulations on sales results, birthday wishes, and welcome to new team members and so on. Set goals for individuals and teams to strive for. Share your top sales figures – bestselling dishes, cocktails and the like. The team needs to know it has contributed to the success of your business – catch people doing something right and give them an instant reward.
Generation Y wants to be involved and included and are keen to contribute and participate in decision making. There are a number of ways this can happen: ask for feedback when creating new menus and wine lists, include team members in tasting new products and ask them to run the next wine tasting as this often gives you a better turnout and gives the presenter(s) a great new challenge. Create a mentor or buddy program where your more experienced team contributes to staff training. Train the trainer and let them pass on their skills. Reward your managers for helping people grow and focus on up-skilling and cross-training. Create a staff referral program which enables your current team to recommend a friend for available positions. Friends and family are very important to Gen Y and a great team culture with like-minded people can stabilise your staff turnover.
Like everyone, Gen Y will experience failures or mistakes but these can be used as educational moments and employers/managers can provide some life mentoring with your own stories. Take the time to guide and nurture your Millennials – they and your customers will love you for it.
By Nicola Richards, general manager at Monsoon Poon in Auckland and chair of SPANZ – the Service Professionals Association of New Zealand.