The Next Generation Of Restaurant Leaders

New Study Explores the Mindset of the Gen Z Workforce

The Educational Foundation just released a report on the Gen Z workforce and what we need to do to recruit them to our industry.
A group of young people
The Next Generation of Restaurant Leaders

National Restaurant Association

Mostly everyone today talks about millennials and how to recruit them to work in the restaurant industry. But there’s another up-and-coming workforce to focus attention on ‑‑ Generation Z.

Born between 1995 and 2010, the oldest members of Gen Z are approximately 23 years old and ready to enter the U.S. workforce. The restaurant industry, however, is facing some big questions, including:

  1. Are Gen Zers interested in building their careers in foodservice, and
  2. How does the industry interest and excite them about exploring the opportunities available?

With more industry job opportunities available and the labor pool starting to tighten, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation decided to take a closer look at Gen Z and their professional expectations as they start to seek out careers. To better understand this generation’s mindset, the NRAEF teamed up with the Center for Generational Kinetics to produce a study on the subject. The result is a comprehensive look at Gen Z’s perceptions of the industry and their views on potential career opportunities.

Here are some key findings:

  • Eighty-two percent of the Gen Z respondents said their first paid job was at a restaurant and 73 percent said they thought the restaurant industry is a good place to get a first job
  • More than one-third of the Gen Z respondents said they aspire to become business owners, operators, or move into specialty areas of the industry
  • Almost 40 percent said they would like to progress to working at upscale restaurants
  • On average, Gen Z respondents started working in the industry nearly two years earlier than their millennial counterpart.
  • More than 40 percent said mentors help them build their skills and confidence
  • Recognition, flexibility and team atmosphere were the top cultural traits Gen Zers found important as characteristics of an ideal job

“Our new study shows that we have the opportunity to purposefully foster longer-term relationships with Gen Z,” said Rob Gifford, the NRAEF’s executive vice president. “We need to make sure that every young person who works in our industry has an overall positive experience that encourages them to stay.”

To learn more about Generation Z, download the full report here.



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