How to Hire & Retain Gen Z Restaurant Workers

Everyone is still feeling the effects of the labor shortage — and it could be that outdated hiring practices are to blame. 

Toss out all the articles you’ve read about hiring Millennials, because Gen Z is joining the workforce in droves. Born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z (or Zoomers) can be defined by their level of comfort with tech — none of them can remember life without the internet and they probably had an iPhone before they had a car. 

Now, they’re all grown up: Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce by 2025. And unlike your older employees, they’re much more independent, tech-minded, and financially driven. They’re your best bet at solving your labor woes, if you can meet their needs too. 

Here’s how you entice Gen Z workers to join your team (and keep them happy). 

Competitive Pay 

No huge shock here: people want to work where they can make the most money. But unlike their Millennial forebears, Gen Z employees are taking finances much more seriously. 

Gen Z is giving major side-eye to the pizza parties and free t-shirts that may have excited employees of years past. If you’ve offered these types of job “perks” in the past, you’re better off spending that money on improving wages. And who can blame them? With increasing inflation, your youngest employees need money in the bank, not another branded hat. 

Times are tough, though. If you can’t afford higher wages, get smart with how you present your pay structure — like offering more frequent (or even daily) payment. 

Offer Benefits

Now when we say Gen Z doesn’t like job perks, we aren’t talking about the serious stuff like healthcare.

Members of Gen Z are aging out of their parents’ healthcare, and they’ll look for jobs that offer healthcare and other benefits for employees. 

On top of healthcare, Gen Z employees are also looking for time off, mental health initiatives and support, and sick leave. If you can’t offer higher wages, showing your support for your staff may help you edge out the competition in the hiring game. 

Hire Their Friends

Who doesn’t want to work with their friends? In close, team-oriented environments like restaurants, people naturally hope to find camaraderie and friendship at work. So when you’re looking for new employees, look no further than your current employees’ besties. 

Pro tip: Sweeten the deal even more by offering small referral bonuses to employees who bring their friends onto the team. You’ll make your current employees feel appreciated and solve your labor shortage issues in one fell swoop. 

Work with Their Schedules 

While some young Gen Z professionals are entering the job market looking for full-time positions, most of them are still students. To get them on board with your restaurant, you might have to be flexible with their hours. 

For college students, allow them to go home during school breaks, and be conscientious of their class schedules. They’re naturally prioritizing their (expensive) education over a restaurant job, so if you can’t be understanding about finals or Christmas break, they’ll look for a job elsewhere. 

Utilize Tech 

Gen Z was the first generation to grow up with technology — and they could probably teach you a thing or two about how to use it. Since they’re accustomed to tech making their lives easier, Gen Z workers won’t be happy to see analog processes in your restaurant.

For one, ditch the printout of the weekly schedule. No one wants to come in on their day off just to see when they work next. Instead, take advantage of the many scheduling apps that are available, or bare minimum, send out the schedule in an email.  

To really impress Gen Z, offer them digital payment options — especially digital tip outs. Like we said, Zoomers don’t want to wait two weeks for their pay, and they’re more than happy to receive digital payments over cash. In the eyes of Gen Z, the only “real money” is what you have in the bank — cash is so 1996 — so when their daily tips go straight to their bank account, they feel more financially secure. 

Looking to impress Gen Z restaurant employees? Check out a demo of Kickfin to see our technology in action.