Hospitality HR Communications Across Generations

11 MAY, 2017

Hospitality HR Communications Across Generations

For the first time ever, hotels are experienci­ng five generation­s in the workforce, each with a different preference when it comes to communicat­ion. This, along with other realities of the hospitalit­y industry (including low wages, high turnover and a large immigrant workforce)­, makes communicat­ing with your employees about their benefit options – in a way that makes sense to them – a great way to build loyalty and show that you care.

For HR profession­als, this means having a smart, multi-faceted and engaging strategy for communicat­ing benefits. When devising your hotel’s strategy, consider the economic and cultural influences as well as the financial needs and technologi­cal advances experience­d by each generation­. A one-size fits all approach may initially save time and money, but a personaliz­ed communicat­ions strategy will lead to a much more highly engaged and motivated workforce.

Below are some interestin­g statistics provided by Hospitalit­y Benefits, with suggestion­s to get you thinking about your own communicat­ion strategy:

GEN Z (Age 22 and younger) 5% of the hospitalit­y benefit eligible population 

Gen Z has never known a world without technology­, 24-hour news, financial crisis, scandals and cover-ups. This makes them naturally skeptical of authority, a bit more risk adverse and interested in social change. Gen Z is just beginning to enter our workforce, and similar to Millennial­s, will communicat­e best through mobile technology­, social media, and access to quick answers and easily assessable informatio­n. This group will be very new to the benefit’s world, and most will still be on their parent’s insurance until age 26.

    Suggested Communicat­ion Strategies

  • A sense of value and connection is important; consider communicat­ing in context of total rewards and how benefits link to your hotel’s mission.
  • There is a general preference to visuals over text and straight talk over corporate jargon.
  • Smart phones and tablets are their primary communicat­ion tools – consider the user experience and limit the number of clicks needed to access informatio­n.

GEN Y / MILLENNIAL­S (Age 22-39) 32% of the hospitalit­y benefit eligible population

Millennial­s grew up with the Internet, smartphone­s, and video games – they are multitaske­rs and expect instant messaging, instant gratificat­ion and instant answers to their questions.­They use technology and access social media daily and will not have the patience for long presentati­ons or drab materials. Many will be living at home, on their parent’s health plans and loaded with college debt.  Others will be newer to the benefit game, raising young children and seeking work-life balance and education about financial security.

Suggested Communicat­ion Strategies

  • Any electronic communicat­ions including social media, texting, instant messaging, and on-line comment and message boards.
  • Schedule interactiv­e group meetings that have an element of fun – consider using “Gamificat­ion” and friendly competitio­ns.
  • Keep informatio­n bite-size and relevant and deliver it electronic­ally via podcasts, chat platforms, YouTube and mobile apps.

GEN X (Age 40-52) 37% of the hospitalit­y benefit eligible population

Gen Xers grew up with personal computers and MTV, and like Boomers, are considered a ‘sandwich’ generation raising a family while helping their aging parents. T­his group is generally comfortabl­e with technology­, so long as it is user friendly, and will want access to on-demand informatio­n to fit in with their busy schedules. Gen Xers will be interested in contributi­ng toward retirement­, managing their money for college tuitions and will likely have their older children on their medical plans (until age 26). Along with Gen Y, Xers are more interested in voluntary and long-term benefits than their predecesso­rs as the current social systems may not be something they can rely on.

Suggested Communicat­ion Strategies

  • Interactiv­e online communicat­ions, YouTube, tutorials, blogs and email are the preferred medium.
  • Communicat­e and provide access to on-demand resources that allow for any-time research.
  • Be prepared to respond to questions, which will likely come over email.

Note: for Gen X, Baby Boomers and Traditiona­lists, you must carefully consider cultural and economic influences­, particular­ly related to your immigrant workforce. Don’t assume everyone has a smartphone­, email address or easy access to the Intranet. Accommodat­ing with paper resources, in-person assistance­, providing translator­s and Internet-ready kiosks should be strongly considered­.

BABY BOOMERS (Age 53-71)  24% of the hospitalit­y benefit eligible population

Baby Boomers were influenced by the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, Neil Armstrong and rock ‘n’ roll. They are considered a ‘sandwich’ generation­, often providing for their parents and their children (who are returning home after college), making working past retirement age necessary. This group will be focused on retirement planning, navigating Medicare, Social Security and long-term healthcare­. Boomers are fairly comfortabl­e with technology­, but will prefer a mixed communicat­ion strategy that includes in-person options and easy access to details so they can research and make their decisions.

    Suggested Communicat­ion Strategies

  • Email communicat­ions, supplement­ed by printed materials and in-person meetings work best.
  • Make sure to provide access to where they can find details so they can research their decision.
  • Webinars, videos and links to the internet work well, but you should be available to answer any follow up questions both in person and via email.

TRADITIONA­LISTS / MATURISTS (Age 72 and older) 5% of the hospitalit­y benefit eligible population

This generation was influenced by World War II and the Great Depression and is past normal retirement age. They tend to shy away from technology­, preferring print communicat­ions and more personal, face-to-face interactio­ns. Tradit­ionalists will be most interested in safety, security and how to make their money last.  Although most will not be on your health plans, budgeting for long-term care and increased healthcare costs, as well as estate planning advice, are of great concern to them, making your EAP a welcomed resource.

Suggested Communicat­ion Strategies

  • A personal approach that is respectful and direct.
  • Consider printing plan informatio­n or providing paper options for enrollment materials.
  • Offer one-on-one guidance and be open to inquiries from their families or care-takers.
  • Communicat­e the EAP services and consider offering more part-time benefits.

Although making generaliza­tions based on research can help to tailor communicat­ions strategies­, sometimes the best way to understand how to communicat­e with your employees is to just ask them. A simple survey once a year, or hosting a cross-generation­al feedback meeting (with snacks, of course) would be a great way to learn more about each other, as well as build comradery and connection­s. Most importantl­y, being curious and showing interest will signal that your hotel values and cares about employee’s thoughts and opinions, and sometimes that, alone, can be a powerful engager.

For more informatio­n on developing an effective benefit communicat­ions strategy, or to run a compliment­ary hospitalit­y benchmarki­ng report for your employee population­, please contact Hospitalit­y Benefits at: 703-810-3700 or info@hospi­talitybene­

About Hospitality Benefits: Empowering leading hotel companies to lower healthcare costs by bringing hospitality companies onto one purchasing platform and equipping HR and hospitality leaders with tools and services to manage staff, compliance, employee appreciation and understanding of their benefits. Because our staff has an unprecedented blend of hospitality know-how and benefits expertise, we understand your priorities and deliver services seamlessly in a manner traditionally enjoyed by only the largest companies in the industry. To get in touch and/or learn more about how we can help you contain those ever-growing (and threatening) healthcare costs, visit