Because we grew up with at least one parent who worked tirelessly on the land or loyally for one company from early in the morning until late at night for years, that is our experience of hard work and a great work ethic. “Nose to the grind-stone” and “up-hill both ways in the snow” are phrases that we regularly heard and had a crisp mental image of. Mothers who shaped our reality and values would regularly remind us of how hard our fathers worked for us each and every day, how hard he worked for each of our toys and for every meal on the table every night.
Well, fast forward twenty years and twenty million divorces later and no one is home developing their children’s respect for authority or at home putting the fear of god into the ones who don’t take care of their belongings. No one ever hears, “Wait until your father gets home!” because let’s face it no one is home. Most of America is now a two household or two income family trying to make ends meet, in competition with the Jones’s or their ex to try to make time with them more pleasant for their children than their time with their ex.
Add to that the millennial’s exposure to job insecurity, massive social media over-night successes and you have yourself a recipe for a bad hire every time you need to fill your less than glamorous position. Because any which way you slice it, millennials are not being raised to think like we think so here is how to outsmart them:
If millennials are raised only to think about themselves then why not train from the, “What’s in it for me?” point of view. What is in it for them if they… come to work dressed and ready, what is in it for them if they “get off script” and actually engage with customers. What’s in it for them when they discover why a customer chose to come to your restaurant today. How they benefit personally when they can ask customers if they had ever been to the restaurant before, what their favorite dish or table is and how these conversations benefit them personally, NOT the restaurant. When millennials hear that they could be building a huge list of fans now for use later, that is a language they understand. When they hear that fans are “psychologically willing to wait longer and complain less” this is a concept any waiter of any age will appreciate. If you keep more of your training / coaching emphasis on your employee’s personal benefits and less on the prospect of more money, you will win the trust, respect and hard work of even the youngest and “greenest” of your employees. When they believe that you have “their back” in the big picture and not just that of the business you will start to see great employee work ethic and less employee turnover.
Every employee knows that when you say more sales = bigger tips your goal is more profits for the business and they may night be 100% on-board with using their sweat equity for your gain but tell them that the customers are coming one way or the other it doesn’t matter to you either way and that you have ways to turn each customer into their own personal fan who will gladly wait longer for food, leave great tips and glowing reviews, bring Christmas cards filled with cash, give them more time, energy and community than they could ever imagine… these are the things millennials are inspired by and will happily work for. Otherwise you are “working up-hill both ways in the snow” trying to train something that is actually imperceptible to an entire generation of employees that you actually need.