31 March 2011

Job security, flexible hours, and relaxed rules about mobile phone use at work are what Gen Y staff members want from their employers, according to University of Queensland research.

A three-year joint project between the UQ School of Tourism and the Hospitality Training Association investigated the best employment strategies to match the motivational, training and development needs of this cohort of employees.

Gen Y currently comprises about 30 percent of the hospitality workforce in Australia, with many businesses employing more than 70 percent of their workforce from this generation.

Project leader Dr David Solnet said the research found that technology-savvy and independent Gen Y employees had radically different attitudes towards employment than those of previous generations.

“More than a focus on salary and wages, this group expects recognition and respect from even the early stages of their employment as well as a heavy investment in their professional training and development,” Dr Solnet said.

“Gen Y employees place a higher value on having secure employment than has been suggested anecdotally.

“They value co-worker relationships and friendships, and are seeking opportunities to engage in socially responsible actions, such as ‘green’ programs.”

The study found that Gen Y’s sought reward beyond their wages, including flexible working hours and remote work options.

Dr Solnet said non-traditional incentives that inspired and motivated employees could be less costly to the organisation, and could provide employees with the opportunity to customise their reward options to their perceived best advantage.

The research also unveiled several issues that may negatively affect individual performance and staff turnover in a hospitality organisation.

“Gen Y employees were found to have lower levels of engagement,” Dr Solnet said.

“In addition, they tend to be less satisfied with their job and less committed to the organization than their non-Gen Y counterparts.

“They are also more heavily influenced by poor performing co-workers, and are more likely to switch jobs unexpectedly.”

The industry report offers 10 key recommendations for managing Gen Y hospitality employees.

Management strategies such as how to enhance employee engagement, more comprehensive recruitment processes, a socialisation process for new employees, employee recognition programs, mentoring opportunities and the use of interactive electronic communications may help to enhance employee performance, increase retention and encourage more positive organizational attitudes.

“This study provides an important insight for hospitality business owners and operators, and also provides practical recommendations, based on empirically-based evidence, as to how to best engage with this generational group in the hospitality workplace,” Dr Solnet said.

More than 900 employees from 20 Queensland hospitality businesses were surveyed for the study. View the full Industry Report online.

Media: Claire Shuter ( 07 3346 9259, c.shuter@uq.edu.au) or Dr David Solnet (07 3346 8717, d.solnet@uq.edu.au)