group of friends getting great restaurant customer service

Move over millennials, and make way for Gen Z—those born between the mid-’90s and early 2000’s.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Generation Z (the post-Millennial generation) makes up 25 percent of the population,” explains Inc. This digitally native generation is making unique demands of the workforce they’re entering and the restaurant industry is no exception—Gen Z is already starting to spark changes in the restaurant industry (there’s a reason you’re seeing more and more iPad restaurant POS systems).

If you’re wondering what these new demands are so that you can craft your restaurant, bar, or cafe to draw the freshest talent in the workforce, here’s a summary.

generation z in a restaurant working

Internet Above All

The same article explains that “forty percent of Generation Z said that working Wi-Fi was more important to them than working bathrooms.” That means that if you’ve gotten away with spotty Internet access in the past, this upcoming generation isn’t going to put up with it. While millennials transitioned into the digital age, Gen Z was born into it—having constant Internet access has been a part of their lives from the beginning, so when they’re on a break they expect to be able to quickly access their remote lives on social media.

This digitally native generation is making unique demands of the workforce they’re entering and the restaurant industry is no exception.

Restaurant staff management just got easier, employee turnover just became a thing of the past.

Download The Guide

Gen Z also expects to be able to handle the majority of its employment communication online as well, ideally through apps. An article on Staffbase says that “…employee apps are going to be the driving force in the next three years… Apps provide the possibility to bridge the gap between the non-desk and desk workforce while using a device that has become the young [generation’s] heartbeat: the smartphone.” If you haven’t heard of Slack yet or considered using it or something similar (a digital Logbook, perhaps) as the way to communicate with your servers and bartenders, now’s the time.

Stability is Paramount

“Millennials primarily crave mattering [while] Generation Z [craves] safety first, mattering second,” when it comes to their work lives, notes Forbes. The author credits the fact that Gen Z grew up during the Great Recession, a time when employment goings were certainly tough, as leading the upcoming generation to value stability more than its predecessors. Where millennials tend to job hop, Gen Z wants to role hop and advance within the company they’re already a part of.

Another aspect of stability is scheduling. Millennials put up with an erratic schedule, but there are already pockets of the restaurant industry workforce that are lobbying for stable schedules that are more predictable week by week.

Professional Development is Essential

Because Gen Z is looking to develop within their current job rather than find a new one somewhere else, opportunities for internal professional growth are key. Yet, “if they’re not developing their skills and deepening their knowledge, they won’t hesitate to look for a job that offers more robust professional development opportunities,” explains Robert Half of the staffing agency of the same name. That means that Gen Z will be looking to the leaders at their restaurant jobs to show them the way forward—here’s a quick guide to developing restaurant staff if you aren’t sure where to start.

Written by   |  
Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at