The Gen Z Staffing Issue: everything you need to know to attract and retain great staff

When it comes to your Generation Z staff, relax—we've got you covered. Generation Z is the generation of interest on everyone’s lips right now because in the past few years these young adults have rapidly been coming of age in their great spending power. Yet, it’s not only how they spend but how they work casual jobs that’s interesting, especially if you run a food service business and depend on them to keep your business running and your customers happy. Born between 1996 and 2010, Gen Z are expected to account for 27% of global workforce by 2025. And, as with previous generations, they are a completely unique demographic. Here’s exactly what you need to know about them. 

A new generational set of differences

First the differences between previous generations like Millennials and Gen Z is quickly noticeable. Gen Z are even more concerned with diversity and community, prefer experiences to possessions, and are a lot more frugal with their money. They are global citizens, with big worries about the planet and its wellbeing (therefore big on CSR). They are clearly anchored in the search for ‘truth’ and as such, Generation Z work for companies who share the same values as themselves. They don’t like unfulfilled company promises and greenwashing. For example, it’s good to get any schemes on food waste disposal or charity giveaways in order to show your workers clearly what’s in place and how they can contribute to larger planetary zero waste goals.

Generation Z and their general work approach

If we move into more work-related differences for Gen Z compared to previous workforces, they are much more entrepreneurial. This translates into a love of rewards. While they need to work in teams to ‘get things done’, they also like the ability to achieve as individuals. This means clear recognition for all that they bring to a business and beyond. For food service businesses and restaurants that might look like a reward for good service, a small raise for a record month of business, a clear path to move from table service to front of house in a promotion, or even an effective training scheme.

Restaurants, good staff food, and Gen Z

This is a generation used to the whole wealth of good food at their fingertips. And due to the rise in takeaway and delivery services, it’s something they are used to getting. In fact, 72% say that a good place to eat, good meals, and a variety of options would positively influence their decision to work somewhere. Employers can up their game here and serve a variety of healthy options, vegan included, and also create a welcoming place for employees to sit, eat and relax with their co-workers. It can be as simple as providing a longer set time to enjoy a break and a good choice of food on the staff menu.

Smart and flexible scheduling a workplace must-have

Generation Z are more than digital natives, they feel tech is an extension of themselves. McKinsey says that they are a hypercognitive generation very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and with integrating virtual and offline experiences together. This is a generation used to anything digital that makes their lives easier and work-to-leisure time smarter. What does this look like in food businesses like restaurants and cafes? Across all age groups, flexible working hours are considered the most appealing non-monetary benefit that employers can provide. As an employer you can consider a longer lead time for setting the schedule so one month rather than one to two weeks. Many cloud native scheduling systems nowadays allow for all this and show data and productivity in real time. Lastly, trial a flexible approach, consider leaving a few shifts in the schedule per week free and allow staff to sign up for them with a clear deadline for doing so.


In conclusion on working with Gen Z

The main thing to bear in mind with any generation that work with you, including Gen Z, is that happy staff are a more productive staff that want to stay longer in a casual job. That saves you time/money recruiting and will make your restaurant, café, or snack bar more profitable as well as a great place for customers to enjoy.