Gen Z requires hoteliers to take a fresh look at both their management and operational strategies.

Mark Lewis-Brown, CEO & President of Zucchetti North America

The hospitality industry is no stranger to evolution, and after surviving the chaos of the COVID pandemic and the aftermath, hoteliers are much more adept at pivoting as new trends and developments push the hospitality industry in new directions. 2024 has already ushered in a great deal of change, as consumer booking trends change and many of the top global economies experience contractions, but as always, there will be many other shifts that will impact the hospitality industry over the coming years; one of the most significant changes that we are currently experiencing comes with the entry of Gen Z into the workforce, which requires hoteliers to take a fresh look at both their management and operational strategies.

Here’s why…

As “digital natives,” Gen Z have grown up with the internet, which impacts their view and use of technology, and has cultivated an expectation for immediacy, efficiency and connectivity in all aspects of their lives. This is important for hoteliers to understand and act upon, especially during our ongoing staffing crisis. By better understanding the needs and expectations of this large group of potential employees and adapting accordingly, you can improve your perceived value as an employer (increasing hiring opportunities) and increase employee retention.

So, what can your property do to attract and retain more Gen Z employees?

Embrace Operational Technology to Empower Gen Z Employees to Work More Efficiently

Gen Z employees are used to using technology, both at work and in their personal lives. While COVID empowered many hoteliers to embrace operational technology to help them do more with less staff, and adapt to changing guest expectations, the adaption rate of technology in the hospitality industry is still very low – and this can be a detractor for Gen Z employees when considering entering the hospitality industry.

Today, it is essential hoteliers embrace the future, replacing manual processes with time-saving automated technology solutions, which will improve productivity and operational efficiency, and maximize revenue opportunities. From streamlined booking engines to AI-powered revenue management systems, embracing technology that aligns with Gen Z’s digital fluency will not only make your property more attractive for Gen Z employees, but it will also improve your property’s operational efficiency and the guest experience.

Redefining Workplace Culture

To get the most from your Gen Z employees your property should re-evaluate your workplace culture and management styles, as this generation has very different preferences than older generations and to improve employee retention, hoteliers need to be aware of this and adapt accordingly. Gen Z employees value transparency, flexibility, being empowered to make independent decisions and look for opportunities for growth and development. Hospitality leaders must create an inclusive environment that exemplifies these values, offering clear career pathways and incorporating flexible working arrangements to attract and retain Gen Z employees.

Sustainable Businesses are More Attractive to Gen Z Employees

In the hospitality industry, sustainability is transitioning from a niche selling point to a standard industry practice and Gen Z employees are looking for their employers to follow suit. Gen Z are more environmentally conscious than other generations, and so hotels must adopt sustainability practices in their operations and guest experience and, where possible, also in the design and construction of their facilities, aiming for minimal environmental impact. This holistic and comprehensive sustainability mindset will make your hotel more attractive to potential Gen Z employees, as they want to work for a company that they believe in.

The Blurring Lines Between Work and Leisure

Since COVID, “bleisure” travel (trips that combine both business and leisure travel) has become very popular. Because Gen Z employees prioritize flexibility and a healthy work/life balance, this is a trend that hoteliers need to be conscious of as their Gen Z employees will appreciate being offered the opportunity to take bleisure trips or work remotely when possible. This flexibility can also go a long way towards recruiting the top Gen Z talent and retaining current employees.

Gen Z’s digital-first approach, along with their values around sustainability and work/life balance, are already playing a crucial role in shaping the future of the hospitality industry. To remain competitive in hiring and retaining top Gen Z employees, hotels must be open-minded and quick to adapt to meet the demands of tomorrow’s employees; as Gen Z is the largest generation globally, adapting to appeal to Gen Z employees is an operational imperative, especially given today’s ongoing staffing shortage.