Written by Hannah Briggs - University of Derby


Today, in 2019; where the main workforce is millennials, and Generation Z starting to filter into the mix, it is important that employers understand the generational differences between them and generations prior. 

In a world where technology is constantly evolving, millennials and generation Z have learned how to adapt to the fast-paced change. Not only do they expect change, but they make change occur by being the driving force behind technology advances as the consumers demanding them. This can be an extremely beneficial quality of an employee as their innate ability to adapt to change so quickly enables the company they work for to keep up with technological evolution, therefore allowing them more flexibility and better communication in most cases.

Whilst this may be a beneficial quality for various reasons, it could also be a hindrance when the individual goes from being ‘tech-savvy’ to too dependent on their devices, especially in the spa industry or alike as they are guest facing industries. Research shows1that 53% of millennials would rather lose their sense of smell than lose access to some kind of technological gadget and this is when it becomes an issue especially in an industry like spa where all the senses are so important in what we do. For young millennials and Gen Z, it has become the social norm to text, tweet and snapchat to communicate. In an office however, it goes back to the ‘old fashioned’ means of communication like face-to-face or calling someone on the phone. Being a guest facing industry, we know how important the communication between therapists or front of house staff and guests is. 

This means that whilst employers should use the skillset of these millennial and gen z employees to advance the business in many ways, they will always be expected to be able to communicate. Additionally, millennials technological experience vastly revolves around social media which, in some businesses, is necessary but can also distract from the tasks at hand. However, in many businesses, an understanding of the use of software such as spreadsheets and emails is essential and this could perhaps be where young people are lacking in experience and may require further training.

Millennials as a generation know what they want and expect from a job and are prepared to move on if or when they don’t meet their requirements. It has been discovered that millennials exhibit a lower level of institutional loyalty and work/life imbalance. They want flexible career paths, guidance of ways to develop and grow from their managers, to be constantly challenged, have open communication and a sense of genuine enjoyment from their job. Young people tend to have a shorter attention span when it comes to jobs and therefore need these constant reassurances of development to keep them engaged and gain their loyalty.

Many times, millennials have been branded as lazy, entitled or even narcissistic due to these character traits in the workplace. This being said, others, such as Chip Conley in his TED Talk, argue that having an age diverse team is in fact much more effective as it offers the opportunity for generations to pass on wisdom from old to young and vice versa. Similarly, Daniela Zamudio discusses the power of being a quitter. Although stereotypically a bad trait, showing lack of motivation or determination, Daniela puts an interesting spin on quitting and demonstrates how it can also be a promising trait in a young person. Quitting does not necessarily mean giving up, but more often nowadays means the individual feels they have more potential, wants to open doors to more opportunities and has the courage to follow their own initiative which is a valuable trait in an employee. With millennials having detailed expectations of what they want from a job and lack of institutional loyalty, they are more likely than older generations to quit. Young people don’t want to be waiting around for years, they want things quicker and the industry needs to change to provide them with a clear progression route. 

Millennials and Gen Z are going to be the focus of recruiters for decades to come. They generally would be much more likely to work for a company with a positive company culture, genuine concern for employees’ personal wellness and plenty of room for professional development opportunities. Due to the fact that young millennials have never known a world without on demand access to unlimited information, they are able to recognise, filter through and learn more about anything that they are passionate about. For this reason, another factor that entices millennials in is corporate social responsibility. After identifying the problems worth solving through information on the internet, millennials are keen to discover opportunities that allow them to make a positive impact and being able to do that through their career is an attractive opportunity to them.

So why is this relevant to you?

In 2017, The Global Wellness Institute revealed that the Global Wellness Economy is worth a mammoth $4.2 Trillion, including the Spa Industry contributing $119 billion. And with no sign of the industry growth slowing down, employers must be prepared to embrace not only millennials but other, younger generations expectations in order to retain these employees with unique talents. This not only means providing things such as flexible career paths with opportunities for development, but also keeping up with technology. Researchhas shown that millennials have an average attention span of 16 seconds and younger generations such as Gen Z average at 8 seconds. This suggests any company needs to be pretty on the ball if they want to engage them using a visual online advert or face-to-face interaction as a potential employer. Additionally, 91% of Gen Z say how sophisticated a company is with technology will influence their decision to work there. This means companies need to ensure they have sufficient devices that will work quick enough to keep them interested and focused. They must not only provide up to date technology, but also understand its evolution and how the younger generations use it in order to gain future brand ambassadors for their business.

Without a workforce, the spa industry simply would not exist. The workforce is changing and employers must listen, accept and adapt to these expectations to ensure the industry continues to thrive.

Written by Hannah Briggs