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Article By:

Sunil Dissanayake

Sunil Dissanayake
Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management

For a long time, we have been preoccupied with the positive impact of baby boomers but a new segment is coming into focus. Those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. They are now more important to the work force than any other segment.

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They have significantly different values, beliefs and lifestyles from the baby-boomer generation which differences our hotels need to adapt to for the reason that millennials will dominate the workplace in the coming decade. They like transparency, they like their employers to be connected to their values and the environment, they want the opportunity to move up the career ladder, they want a clear career path and they want to be continually challenged.

If we endeavor to hire millennials and keep them, we also need to focus on benefits that are associated with millennials.This needs to be broadly recognized by the hotel industry, the desire of millennials to be passionate about their work and where they work. This is where the Human Resources Directors of hotels need to be tuned to the aspirations of the millennials, to conceptualize and implement millennial friendly HR practices.

Millennials are looking for interesting, challenging and meaningful work. A Comparative Study of Work Values between Generation X and Generation Y found this group does not like to sit still for long. They welcome mobility and they tend to change jobs. In fact, research has found that the oldest millennials held an average of seven jobs by the time they became 30, compared to four for Generation X and lesser for baby boomers. But their taste for novelty can be generated from within the hotels. Hoteliering is appealing for its different roles. This is the generation that has trouble concentrating for too long.

For example a bank staff may indulge in similar transactions every day. In hospitality you get to explore different aspects of the industry, different types of guests and handle different situations almost by the hour.

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Millennials are tech-savvy. If they are deprived of the latest technology you will see a lot of frustration among them. But hoteliers have to find a balance between permitting devices and ensuring that customer service is not negatively impacted. It is no longer a ‘no’ to smartphones, Facebook and texting at work but instead permitting what is acceptable to the hotel. For example, mobile phones are alright at work, but must be on “silent” or “vibrate”modes and texting cannot be done in front of guests and in guest contact areas.

Flexible work hours, a range of roles and a chance to display their expertise in different locations are other priorities for this generation. They like to have flexible schedules and be able to change shift timings as they need to accommodate their personal needs. There is more emphasis on work-life balance. Those hotels that invest in their employees earn long-term loyalty. Millennials are no different and they are more likely to leave organizations when they feel they cannot develop professionally. But if hotels develop millennials they are keen to stay.

This generation is motivated to work with sustainably minded hotels that are connected to the communities around them and are keen on helping them develop other skills and competencies in the workplace.

After they become part of the team,this generation needs consistent feedback preferring daily input rather than annual or biannual one-on-one performance reviews. They want to know how they can perform better and they want specifics. They do not want to hear that they are not performing well. They want to know what they need to do to perform better.

Hoteliers can leverage this aspect to their advantage. While millennials are confident they also have a lot of concerns. They are concerned about their future career prospects and are keen to find a secure job with their current skill set. This means they understand they have to be a high performer all the time which makes them eager for feedback and self-development. Hoteliers need to understand that and if they do not millennials will move elsewhere. The skills they learn in hospitality — customer service, service quality, leadership, management are highly transferable skills & competencies. They will go elsewhere, get higher remuneration and have better personal development opportunities.

If hotels do not make provisions for this segment of their workforce who are prepared to work long hours but also want to have fun, hotels will lose them.


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