Interviewed by: Carly Cordovano

The hospitality industry is home to a diverse group of people. There are multiple generations within the restaurant industry; all with different expectations, learning styles, and needs.  The best way to reach your people is to meet them where they are. We met with two established learning and development professionals, Julianna Voyles and Priscilla Olgin, and discussed the future of restaurant training.

"We have four generations in the industry at the moment; the boomers who's biggest form of communication is email and the Gen-Z that relies on texting. We have to create content that's going to engage everyone equally, but not alienate anyone either." - Priscilla Olgin

Restaurants Are Hiring Younger Workers 

Younger generations have high expectations. According to Gallup, 87% of millennials say training and development are crucial to the job. For some, not only is it their first time using training software, it is also a first-time job experience.  Julianna Voyles, Director of Training and Operational Growth at Jeremiah's Italian Ice found that when training younger generations, the experience must be hands-on.

Many companies are taking a different approach to training millennial frontline workers. However, there are a few perspectives to explore.

Using Cell Phones for Learning

4 out of 5 restaurants are short-staffed (CHART). What do restaurant operators need to do to retain their teams?

Pew Research Center reports that 98% of Americans have a cell phone, 85% have a smartphone. At the same time, 3 out of 4 employees do not have an active, working email. 800+ legacy learning management systems require an email to log in. This was the case for Fuku. Priscilla Olgin, Regional Training Manager at MOOYAH states “ ’Boomers’ biggest form of communication is email versus ‘Gen-Z’ which respond mostly to text messages”. Julianna found the same. At Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, this resulted to push notifications and alerts via text message as their workforce rarely checked emails.

People need to be heard. But Gen-Z expects to be heard. With information at our fingertips, people are also more likely to express their thoughts and concerns.

“I think a huge part with working with the young demographic is that they have  access to so much material and have opinions on how important people should be and culture should be.” - Julianna Voyles

Julianna learned that  “the engagement level is at zero if something does not work as smoothly as Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, or any technology that isn't moving that quickly.” Implementing relevant technology not only helps engage your frontline team but also sets you apart from the rest.

Using Videos to Engage Young Workers

“I embraced the creativity amongst the younger generation.” - Priscilla Olgin

Involving your team in content creation leads to higher engagement.  Priscilla found that multimedia integration, such as videos, GIFs, and other visuals has been great for marketing purposes. Priscilla states, “it's been great for marketing and training to connect and collaborate and is now cross-functional. Training and marketing go hand in hand now.”  In her team, people are sharing videos during orientations with further engages and help with retaining people. Even the other generations at MOOYAH are finding short videos are easier to retain the information and apply it to their day-to-day functions. “Your bits of training has to be a lot shorter and more impactful than ever and faster” says Priscilla.

At Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, Julianna and her team condensed brand information in two weeks to 1. save time 2. work with the attention span of their frontline. At first glance, this can bring up concerns. But they found that in doing so, their team was able to better retain information and enjoy the training process.  In a Gallup study, it was found that companies that focused on engagement had these results:

  • 20% higher in sales
  • 24% less in turnover
  • 70% fewer safety issues
  • 41% lower absentee
  • 10% higher customer rating

When creating training experiences for your frontline, listening to your team creates trust and loyalty within the company. It also benefits the team as a whole with valuable insights. As a younger generation enters our workforce, using accessible technology to reach and teach them might be the key to restoring stability in our industry.