The Future of the Service Industry

How Engaged Generation Z Employees Will Change the Future of the Service Industry.

The world is experiencing a dramatic industrial to digital shift, as the result of various new technologies and the rise of social media. Although we’re very aware of this shift, it’s often forgotten, that alongside our digital world, we have our first digital native people.  

Here’s the news. A common misconception is that Millennials are the fresh meat of our workforce. When in fact, the oldest Millennials are almost 40 and are approaching leadership roles. The force we prepare ourselves for now is, Generation Z - born 1995-2010 and they are approaching the workforce with high expectations, dreaming of a sophisticated company, oozing in brand experience. However, many of our workplaces aren't yet Generation Z playgrounds. They are largely customer focussed, operating slow and inefficient systems, training programmes are either drawn out or non-existent and recognition is not often enough served.

The service industry offers vast and fulfilling opportunities that fall in line with the characteristics of Generation Z – but they carry a set of somewhat ‘demanding’ expectations, nurtured by significant events during their youth, that often clash with the natural demands of the service industry. Coupled with an innate ability to find more options, opportunities and a mindset that nothing is guaranteed, with regards to attracting, engaging and retaining Generation Z employees, we could be in for tough ride.

It’s now more important than ever to start considering differences between shared generational characteristics, how these influences have shaped the values, beliefs and behaviours of the digital mindset and be prepared with responsive strategy to retain top talent in the workplace.

Richard Branson said, 'Look after your staff, and they will look after your customers', and with this generation in mind, that statement has never been truer. Generation Z expect a place where they’re valued and appreciated, guided and supported and, inspired and empowered.

Generation Z have been shaped by major global brands such as Apple, Snapchat, YouTube and Amazon to expect a level of personalisation, interaction, seamless experience, flexibility and brand relationship. Brand authenticity is high on Generation Z’s radar – they are masters of earning influence and although it comes naturally, they don’t always know it. This presents opportunity for service organisations to engage employees in the brand experience, before tapping into their native abilities and creating brand ambassador teams. A strong ambassador team will demonstrate strong organisational culture, boost team morale and will attract both customers and top talent. Brand ambassador teams could completely change the way we look at the recruitment and careers in the service industry. The poor perceptions of low pay and anti-social hours could become an industry where earning is opportunistic, social and flexible.

For Generation Z, it’s not about pool tables and gym memberships. Lucky for you, they’re still desirables. Generation Z are looking for growth opportunities, a supportive mentor who provides clear goals and direction, coupled with motivation strategy and consistent recognition. They want approachable leaders, who understand they have a life outside of work and, what personal interests are important to them. They want an empowered team to work alongside, they want to feel part of a culture, a family. At the most basic operational level, they need technology and equipment that works effectively enough to perform at their best and, their short attentions spans mean short burst training and communication will be more effective methods for leaders.

For service organisations, investing in people, training expertise and excellent customer service practices will develop sustainable competitive advantage over time. However, managers must identify the core values that personally engage Generation Z employees to effectively motivate them. This can be identified by implementing employee engagement surveys and working with the results, towards an engaged organisation. Service organisations must focus on attracting and engaging leaders in the purpose and culture of the organisation and, once leaders are engaged in the organisation’s purpose, they can begin to create engaged workforces. To successfully engage Generation Z, good human resource practices, rewarding incentives and strong organisational culture, that enhances brand employee relationships will successfully attract and retain quality talent, improving service expertise.

To find out how you can improve your organisations engagement levels or find out more about how Generation Z are shaping the future of business – you can speak to Franki Johnson, director and consultant at Embrace Change, by emailing or connecting on