Why Teens Don’t Want to Work in Hospitality

MONTREAL—Why don’t teens want to work in hospitality? The hospitality industry as a whole is having a difficult time attracting this demographic because it is competing for talent within a pool of workers that are looking for a company that offers a lot of flexibility in their time.

“Some teens want to work as many hours as possible, while others are looking to strike a balance between work, school and extracurricular activities,” said Will Eadie, VP of sales and strategy, WorkJam. “That said, giving teen workers the ability to participate in their choice of schedule is crucial. In addition, many of the teens who choose to work in a hotel are looking for a fast track to a career. If they don’t sense opportunity for career advancement, there’s a high likelihood they’ll leave for another position.”

The ability for hoteliers to provide workers with an open-shift marketplace that includes self-scheduling could be the solution, Eadie suggests. “A system for training employees who seek on-the-job advancement is also essential.”

Hotels are increasingly investing in a digital workplace for these reasons.

“This technology provides hotels an opportunity to boost employee engagement, especially among teen workers,” he said. “This isn’t just about creating happy employees, it’s about giving employees a chance to interact with the company in a way that’s meaningful to them.”

Eadie explained that if teens are going to accept a position in the hospitality industry, they need to understand that the industry has a sense of purpose.

“While most teens are looking to work for a cool brand, they’re also looking for a brand with a strong ethos,” he said. “The companies who have the most success establishing ethos are the ones implementing an internal employee communications strategy. Having this strategy in place not only gives employees a voice to be part of the brand, but actually allows companies to do a significantly better job of top-down and bottom-up, closed-loop communication centered around company goals.”

He added, “When teen employees understand the goals of the organization—and how they align with their own goals—they understand that the company is operating in an ethical way. As a result, employers are able to elevate employee engagement, increase productivity, and produce a significant amount of customer satisfaction. This is why, again, employers in the hospitality space need to provide their employees with not only communication platforms, but a reason to be a brand advocate. If they don’t, they’ll risk losing younger employees to other opportunities.”

For younger seasonal workers, who crave regular communication and flexibility, a digital workplace is valuable.

“Many hotels are now moving towards a digital workplace that offers employees a way of knowing what’s happening within the organization,” he said. “This is also a way for employees to pick up shifts on their own time. Hoteliers can provide younger seasonal workers with incentives such as allowing them to pick up shifts, if they complete certain training modules. By doing so, they’re able to nurture that individual and, in return, greatly reduce the need to source additional workers.”

Another way hotels can better retain teen employees is by appealing to their desire for flexibility.

“Hotels have the unique ability to internally crowdsource labor better than any other industry. They have a front desk, cleaning, dining, etc.,” said Eadie. “That’s three or four different types of companies all under one roof and it gets exponentially bigger when the property gets near a resort. If they have the right tools in place, hotel employers have the ability to say, ‘You normally work at the front desk, but if you want to take a couple of training courses to understand what we’re doing over in catering then you can start working events with us.’ These types of opportunities have major appeal for younger seasonal workers.”

For hoteliers seeking to engage younger generations of workers, Eadie offers some actionable advice: “If hotels effectively use all of the above strategies, they can even take it one step further with reward-based gamification to increase engagement even further. Younger generations are motivated by a certain level of rewards. Employers need to layer in programs for training, communication, scheduling with an add-on gamification and rewards program. For most employers, it makes most sense to deploy all of these layers in one digital platform.”

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