In our previous article “Workforce generation and revolution. What are the generational differences in the workplace 1/2 ”, we presented the different revolutions in the workplace and its generations since World War 2.

The new workforce generation, Gen-Z is changing the game in recruitment with different work styles and expectations than the previous ones.

The coming generation is not simply seeking a job, a salary, or a nice boss. They are looking for meaning in their work and for a company that fights for its values, and employees but also to make the world a better place.

We wanted to get insights from a recruitment specialist to better understand the impact of the different crises on the new Workforce generation and on recruitment, specifically in the hospitality industry.

We talked with friend and board advisor, Chris Mumford, Managing Director at Cervus Leadership Consulting who is working for many years in the branch, specifically for the hospitality industry. 

What are the generational differences in the workplace?

Since 2019 we are facing different crises: corona, a financial crisis and war in Europe.

We can already see the impact of these crises on the labour market with for example a shortage of workers in some industries like hospitality, but also new work models like hybrid work.

For a few weeks, we are also seeing massive lay-offs at companies like Meta or Wayfair, mostly from tech companies. I recently read an article explaining that before the end of the year, many startups will cut their hiring and lay off employees.

Do you think we will see more lay-offs in other industries in the coming weeks?

We are not seeing big lay-offs in the hospitality sector. On the contrary, most operators in most markets are struggling with a severe labour crisis and shortage of talent.

Unlike Tech which had continued to (over)scale up their workforces during the Covid pandemic, Hospitality and Travel are still trying to get back to adequate staffing levels.

Despite the gloomy economic forecasts and cost pressures, ‘revenge’ travel consumption remains strong at the time of writing and hotels, airlines, and restaurants are experiencing good top-line performance.

Whether this continues as we head into 2023 remains to be seen but, as things stand, I do not expect any large-scale redundancies in the hospitality space in the near future.

Gen Z is slowly coming to the labour market, and they are changing the game.

Which impact and changes are coming from this workforce generation for the recruitment industry?

It is clear that a healthy paycheck on its own is not enough to command the loyalty of Gen Z employees. The employment offer has to be much more holistic these days.

It is easy for Gen Xers, who are mostly doing the hiring, to dismiss Gen Z as lazy and not interested in hard work. This is a dangerous misconception.

Gen Zers are willing to work hard but they want more flexibility around how, when, where and with whom they work. They want a sense of belonging and therefore seek out companies where they identify with a true sense of purpose and meaningfulness.

They are no longer prepared to feel like an anonymous number in a big machine. There is no one-size-fits-all approach these days. Employers need to be incredibly flexible in how they tailor career paths, working conditions, and well-being to each individual.

Hiring organisations need to be able to articulate to prospective employees what they stand for in the world, how are they making a positive contribution to society and how they will positively add to the individual’s life.

Do you think the current recession will change the actual labour market and the wave the new workforce generation was bringing? We had a talent shortage, and the power was in the hand of candidates. Will it change back to the hands of companies?

At a macro level, yes, if unemployment levels rise then the power will swing back into the hands of employers.

There are many factors which will influence this however such as industry sector, geographic market, severity, and length of a recession. While companies may find they have a larger choice of candidates, the need to have a sophisticated retention strategy will be even more imperative.

Gen Zers are quick to leave a job if they feel it is not the place for them, and therefore the ability to create a compelling employment proposition will be vital and keeping them engaged will be no less important.

You experienced the crisis in 2008, which difference do you see between both for the recruitment industry?

I think the recruitment industry is better placed this time around to weather the storm.

A combination of the use of technology, the Covid pandemic, hybrid working and things like smaller office footprints have all contributed to recruitment businesses running leaner operating models.

There is less cost these days to finding and meeting candidates and clients for example thanks to tools like LinkedIn and Zoom. Small things like that can add up to savings on the bottom line and so I think most recruitment firms are fitter now than back in the pre-GFC days.

Where I see a constant, however, is that back in 2008 we thought AI-based tech with its fancy algorithms would decimate the traditional recruitment sector. 14 years later and we are benefiting from tech-enabled efficiencies but there is still no substitute for human interaction and judgement when it comes to hiring. 

This interview was led by Margaux Sauvage, Marketing Manager at LHC International

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LHC International is a leading executive search firm for the hospitality and operational real estate industry.