The workforce has never been more diverse. In today's restaurant, it's not unusual to find employees that span five different generations. They range from professional managers and chefs who are in the prime of their life, to senior citizens working to supplement their income, to high school students who are breaking into the workforce for the first time in their life. While it's amazing to see so many generations coming together to make a restaurant a successful business, the generational workforce also poses some never before encountered training challenges.
Challenges Connected to Training Across Generations
There are huge benefits to a multi-generational workforce. Most restaurant owners report that they like having a staff that spans multiple generations. Not only does each generation have skills and traits that help compensate for those lacking in the other generations, but the multi-generational team also tends to result in much better customer service, since there is someone on staff who understands the life experiences of each customer that walks through the door.
Common challenges connected to a multi-generational staff include:
- Stereotypes and expectations
- Problems with the business's culture
- Breakdowns in communication
Creating training that satisfies many learning styles is difficult. Difficult, but not impossible.
Training the Multi-Generational Staff
The key to reaching every single member of your staff and ensuring that they're properly trained for their position and that they know how important the work they do is to the whole organization is creating a blended instructional training program.
The biggest trick for training a multi-generational staff is learning how each generation thinks, what their values are, and how they respond to the other generations they're working with. As the person in charge of employee training, you must commit yourself to learn as much as you can about each generations learning style, behavior, and traits. Once you've become an expert on all four or five generations you're tasked with training; it's time to take your knowledge and create a training program that not only helps them master their jobs but also improves communication between the generations.
- Effective methods for multi-generational training include:
- The creation of mentoring programs
- Training activities that encourage employee engagement
- Learning how to recognize and leverage specific skills/traits each generation possesses
Recognition programs have been very effective tools when dealing with a generationally diverse staff, especially if the rewards are set up in such a way that the strengths of each generation are recognized.
The most important thing to keep in mind when creating a multi-generational training program is that you're going to have to tweak and adapt it constantly.
Tools that Aid with Multi-Generational Learning
Don't let yourself feel overwhelmed by the challenges of training a multi-generational staff presents. Resources such as The 7 Pillars of Modern Learning provide a great deal of insight into learning approaches that can accomplish this. Another great tool that will help you create an outstanding training program are the employees themselves. Asking what they think you can do to ensure that they are better trained and capable of working as a cohesive team not only improves your training program but also encourages employee engagement.