There's real value to helping employees earn professional credentials, especially Gen Zs, which is why the Association's ServSuccess program is gaining momentum. It validates on-the-job expertise and clarifies next-level advancement.

By many accounts, restaurant operators are having a tough time finding employees.

Unemployment is at a record low, fewer teens are entering the workforce and their ranks are shrinking. The number of 16- to 24-year-olds in the labor force is expected to drop by 1.2 million over the next 10 years. Uncertainty surrounding immigration policy is affecting hiring, as well.

Do a quick search of the job attributes that motivate Gen Zs (born after 1995, they’re the newest entrants to the workforce) and you’ll see the words pragmatic, security-seeking, competitive … they’re motivated when they see a clear path to advancement.

Gen Zs are a little less idealistic than millennials – watching one’s parents endure the Great Recession will do that – and a little more entrepreneurial. Despite being true digital natives, they prefer face-to-face feedback from managers.

“When people are choosing a company to work for, which is different from looking for a job, they want to work where someone is engaged with them, where they can make a difference, be recognized and advance,” says a vice president of training and culture development for a large family-dining restaurant company.

The company promotes its career paths and uses real-life success stories in its recruitment process, pointing out that 60% to 70% of the company’s managers are promoted from hourly roles. Millennials and Gen Zs especially want to know that companies are willing to invest in them, she says.

What are the work conditions that will draw this group to your company and keep them for the long run? Competitive pay is a given, but if these other attributes are missing, it’s unlikely money will compensate.

  • Clear path to move ahead
  • Chance to learn new skills
  • Hours, flexibility of hours
  • Quality of training
  • Good management attitude, clear support
  • Recognition/incentives for doing a good job
  • Quality of fellow workers

For her upcoming session on training and retention at the National Restaurant Association’s Human Resources & Risk and Safety Conference, Feb.12-14, Dallas, Sara Anderson Bray, director, workforce development for the Association, digs into recruitment, exploring the key drivers that make employees want to start working for you and stay longer.

She shares the innovative training approaches and successful career-path opportunities restaurants are using to attract and keep employees.

According to Anderson Bray, there’s a real value to helping employees earn professional credentials, especially Gen Zs, which is why the Association’s ServSuccess program is gaining momentum. It validates the expertise employees have gained on the job and clarifies next steps to move up the ladder.

To hear Anderson Bray and a full lineup of Human Resources & Risk and Safety emerging issues, register today.


Launched in 2019, ServSuccess is a career-development initiative that validates the skills your employees have gained on the job and develops new skills they’re clearly ready to take on to move ahead. Comprised of education and training modules, assessment and certifications, ServSuccess is a ready-made online education resource to help restaurateurs engage, train and advance their employees. Find out more here.