If the restaurant industry was a country, it’d be larger than 90% of the world’s countries’ economies, a whopping projected annual sale of $799 billion in 2017. Currently, there are over 1 million restaurant locations employing 14.7 million employees. One in 10 Americans currently work in a restaurant; 1 in 5 held a past restaurant job and 1 in 3 got their first job in a restaurant. (NRA Show 2017)

While the restaurant industry is a melting pot of generations, Gen Z is the one hitting the workforce by storm today. In fact, the restaurant industry is the economy’s largest employer of teenagers, as 1/3 of all working U.S. teenagers are employed in a restaurant, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For an industry facing a 72.9% employee turnover rate, it’s important for restaurateurs and managers to understand the driving forces behind their employees’ work ethic and learn how to manage and retain them. Here are four things you need-to-know about employing Gen Z:

  • Work Ethic – Gen Z has an intensive work ethic without the expectation to hold managerial positions upon starting a new role, according to Ester Frey at Robert Half Technology. The majority of Gen Z are motivated primarily by the opportunity to advance. They’re looking for a career, not just a job. Restaurateurs who provide additional training, a path for growth and an outlet for feedback are more likely to retain these employees.
  • Hyperconnected – Gen Z will be the most digitally connected group of workers to date. Growing up with technology at their fingertips leads them to expect their current/future employers to be up-to-date on latest technologies too. They also view a strong digital presence as an indicator of a company’s trustworthiness and seek to connect personally with brands who have a strong online presence. Though, surprisingly, when it comes to workplace communication, Gen Z prefers to communicate in person rather than electronically.
  • Eye on the Prize – In a recent study by Randstad, Generation Z reported that finding their dream job was more important to them than finding a job that paid them a lot of money. While salary may not be on the forefront, they still consider benefits, incentives, retirement and health care very important factors in a job.
  • Mobility – This generation makes moves! In fact, McCrindle forecasts that Gen Z will have about 17 jobs and 15 homes in their lifetimes. Retaining good Gen Z talent may be a challenge for restaurants, but providing them with the flexibility and freedom to innovate in the workplace may be a good balance.

As more Gen Zers enter into the workforce, restaurateurs, managers and employers will be able to identify and adapt their workplace to better fit the needs of this new generation. For now, it’s safe to say the new kids have entered the block!