What will tomorrow’s workforce expect from their employer? Three graduating students from The Ohio State University’s Hospitality Management Program took to the stage to answer that question during this year’s MenuDirections conference, held this month at The Ohio State University in Columbus.
Here are five things the students say they will prioritize when they look for their next place of employment.
1. Work-life balance
Jobs where employees can have a harmonious professional and personal life were appealing to each of the panelists.
For panelist Michael DeSciscio, Ohio State’s ability to help him juggle his classwork and his responsibilities as a manager at The Blackwell Inn on campus, is something he’s thankful for.
“As a full-time employee and a full-time student, having that work-life balance is really important to me,” he shared.
Flexible scheduling was paramount to all three panelists as well. Panelist Montgomery Parker said she appreciates employers who allow her to plan ahead so she can be off work during important life events such as graduations.
Employers who give their employees grace and are willing to work with them when they may be experiencing a rough time was also valued by panelist Jalanna Wilson.
“I think businesses that can step in and help out when life is doing whatever it wants to do with you is really important to me,” she said.
2. An opportunity to grow
Each of the panelists placed a high importance on learning new skills while on the job.
Establishing a career ladder was particularly important for DeSciscio, who said that knowing what career advancement opportunities existed for him down the line, was what gave him the drive to become a manager.
“I think [a career ladder] is important just because it helps people work a little bit harder and to start to realize like, ‘what's the next step,’” he said.
Career growth is also not limited to what’s learned while working a shift, said Parker. The opportunity to take seminars, classes and more is something she also expects from her place of work.
3. A culture of care
Businesses should also be willing to create a culture of care for employees, the panelists agreed.
At The Blackwell Inn, DeSciscio is able to use the company card to occasionally take his team on fun trips to places like Dave & Buster’s. These excursions allow them to bond outside of work.
Employers should also take the time to make sure everyone is on board with what work culture means to them, Parker noted.
“I think it's really important to have a work culture where everyone is on the same page. regarding like, the passion for the industry,” she said. “I've had some experiences where I felt like I was in an entry level position, but I felt like I was the only one who really didn't cut corners and actually cared about what was going on and the service we wanted to provide.”
4. Fair wages
When posed whether or not they would take a job that provided a positive work culture but lower pay, a majority of the panelists said they would turn down the offer.
Wilson noted that with the cost of living being so high, it would be difficult to take on a job that didn’t pay her fairly. Instead of choosing between fair wages and appreciating employees, companies should be able to do both, she argued.
“I think you can appreciate people and you can pay them what they’ve earned,” she said.
5. Worthwhile benefits
DeSciscio gets his tuition covered by the university due to his job at the hotel. Benefits like this, he mentioned, are invaluable to him.
“My benefits are something that I really care about,” he said, adding that as he gets older, he will look for places of employment that offer to pay for things like tuition for family members.
Perks like free meals during shifts were also appreciated by the panelists.