Engaging a Multi-Generational Workforce and Customers: A Guide for Hospitality CEOs

multigeneration team team engagement team retention Jan 12, 2024

In the dynamic landscape of the hospitality industry, where both the workforce and customer base span five distinct generations, CEOs face a unique challenge – how to not only meet but exceed the expectations of a diverse audience. From the matures to Gen Alpha, each generation brings its own set of values, preferences, and expectations. Successfully navigating and engaging this multi-generational workforce is crucial for ensuring internal harmony and delivering exceptional customer service. In this article, I will explore strategies tailored for CEOs in the hospitality industry to effectively manage, engage, and retain a workforce that spans the ages.

The Generations in Focus

1. Matures (Born before 1945)

The matures, or veterans, value personalised attention. As customers, they appreciate being treated as individuals. Patience and a focus on making them feel special are key to providing exceptional service.

2. Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)

Optimistic and straightforward, baby boomers are ready to spend. They prefer independence and appreciate having all the information to make informed decisions. Service expectations are less formal compared to the matures.

 3. Gen X (Born between 1965 and 1980)

Shaped by experiences like the Global Financial Crisis, Gen X values trust and loyalty. They are self-reliant and sceptical, often researching extensively before making decisions. Providing access to information and addressing their need for trust is crucial.

 4. Gen Y (Millennials) (Born between 1981 and 1994)

Known as disruptors, Gen Y exhibits a wide range of attitudes. Some believe in hard work, while others may feel entitled. They seek customisation, value quick information, and desire options. Understanding their mindset and adapting communication styles is essential.

 5. Gen Z (Born between 1995 and 2009)

Cyber-savvy and discerning, Gen Z have substantial buying power. They expect seamless and genuine interactions. Organisations must not underestimate their capabilities and must strive to provide immediate, convenient, and frictionless experiences.

 6. Gen Alpha (Born after 2009)

The newest generation, Gen Alpha, is rapidly growing in influence. CEOs must anticipate and adapt to their needs as they enter the workforce in the coming years.

Your Multigenerational Team

The linchpin in managing both the intergenerational patrons and the workforce is the leadership team, especially middle management. Effective communication and alignment with the organisation's vision are crucial. Leaders must lead with intention, ensuring that the vision is clearly communicated to the frontline.

Embracing Different Perspectives

Creating unity within a multigenerational leadership team with diverse personalities, behaviours, and work ethics is a challenge. Mentoring and sharing knowledge across generations, especially focusing on Gen Z, can foster open conversations, develop rapport, and build trust.

Learning & Recognition

Accommodate different learning styles and recognition preferences. Tailor training methods to suit different generations and recognise achievements in ways that resonate with each group. This could range from traditional methods for baby boomers to increased responsibility and training opportunities for millennials.

Rostering & Flexibility

Consider the diverse needs of each generation when developing rostering systems. Offer flexibility to accommodate different life stages – from Baby Boomers thinking of retirement to Gen X's need for flexibility around family commitments. Ensure all employees have a voice in presenting ideas, concerns, and complaints.

Tailored Communication

Avoid a one-size-fits-all communication policy. Recognise that different generations prefer different communication methods – phone calls for Baby Boomers, emails for Gen X, and texts for Millennials and Gen Z. Acknowledge that each generation's approach to work may differ but avoid attributing issues to generational traits.

Internal Customer Service Matters

The external customer service experience is directly influenced by the internal customer service within the organisation. CEOs must ensure that the workforce is engaged, motivated, and aligned with the organisation's values to deliver exceptional service to external customers.

Successfully engaging a multi-generational workforce in the hospitality industry requires a nuanced approach. CEOs must understand the unique characteristics, preferences, and expectations of each generation and tailor strategies accordingly. By fostering unity among leadership, embracing different perspectives, accommodating diverse learning and recognition styles, offering flexibility, and implementing effective communication strategies, CEOs can create a workplace that resonates with employees across generations. Ultimately, a harmonious internal environment will translate into exceptional customer service and long-term success in the industry.