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Life as a millennial employee

Boy, is it ever fun being a member of the millennial generation. On the one hand, there’s a bevy of seasoned bosses and co-workers who typecast us as lazy, easily distracted, entitled upstarts who don’t value older generations’ experience. And on the other hand, there’s an economy that we entered at the exact wrong time that—while it is recovering—required us to settle for less pay and fewer benefits at the beginning of our careers, stunting our growth trajectory right from the start. (Whoops, there I go playing right into our complain-y stereotype.) millennial employee handshake

Like us or not, the millennial workforce takeover has arrived. In 2015, Generation Y (those born from roughly 1980 to 1995) surpassed Gen X as the largest employed generation, and by 2020 we’ll represent 46% of U.S. workers. Today’s servers, cashiers, cooks and dishwashers will be tomorrow’s foodservice directors, so it’s imperative to bring quality people on board and train them for success. 

In this special issue, FoodService Director partnered with Restaurant Business magazine and Chicago data firm (and FSD’s sister company) Technomic, together with the California Restaurant Association and Workpop, to zero in on four key personas in the food and beverage industry (See Page 36). The survey respondents—83% of whom were millennials—are looking for a variety of perks, from flexible scheduling to competitive pay to skill development. But they all have one thing in common: They won’t be leaving the workforce anytime soon.

FoodService Director also put a face to the statistics with a look at 30-somethings on the rise within the industry (See Page 51). They include a dietitian who can’t wait to mentor others, a food truck manager who’s always overprepared, and an executive chef who excels at making trends possible. They’re an important reminder that no matter their age, geographic location or personal interests, millennials do have a passion for their careers and the drive to innovate. 

When I entered the workforce in 2007, I was thrilled to be graduating with a job—it didn’t matter that it was in suburban Indiana, or that I wasn’t making great money, or that I worked second shift. I capitalized on my extroverted nature, volunteering for tasks outside my job description and pushing for more creative control. By the time my next gig came calling, I had a well-rounded skill set that made me stand out, and the confidence to sell myself to a new employer. 

My career track would have been much more difficult without co-workers of older generations who, instead of rolling their eyes, recognized my passion and took me under their wing. I hope you’ll take the time to do the same for millennials at your own operation. You never know when you might be changing someone’s life. 

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