The Hospitality Business Can Learn From The Millennials


What’s management to do? The deterioration of trust in corporate America is on the rise. There are many reasons with plenty of blame and finger-pointing.  As stated in Money magazine, “trust in Corporate America is in shambles. More than seven in ten Americans say they distrust CEOs of large corporations. Nearly eight in ten believe that leadership will take “improper actions” to help themselves at the expense of their companies.”

The question arises, “what is doing the right thing”. The movement to raise employee wages is the right thing, but at what cost? Does this push to raise wages to have anything to do with the recent Wal-Mart announcement to close 264 stores and lay off 1600 employees? The right thing to do is to increase the rate, but the outcome lies between the closures and higher wages.  Labor-Management Relations have been riding this wage curve from the 1935 Wager Act, 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act, 1978 Civil Service Reform Act, and the 1992 Adjustment and Retaining Notification Act and in part the 2015 Federal sick leave policy. In each one of these act caused a movement within the Union-Management relationship. Are the Millennials now asking for another change?

America’s built on hard work, risk-taking, and trust. We’re a capitalist society believing in free-trade. This stance is the catalyst to propelling people up the social, economic ladder. Today, as stated in a recent ETCNBC article, four in ten Americans, believe that hard work and determination are no guarantees of success. Even worse, Millennials now view socialism as the alternative to capitalism. Is, the Bernie Sander’s social views the new norm?

Some belief the factors that have led to this socialist movement are not from major unethical decisions but by the more subtle front line unethical decisions.

Let’s use a simplistic example for subtle unethical decisions.  As most could understand, there are many regulatory requirements for maintaining safe food. In a recent episode, a food violation was discovered; management was aware, and a correction plan developed. The correction procedure caused staffing and procedurally changes but had push-back do to regulatory ignorance.  The new procedure, a simple change, however not to upset the status quo, upper management’s final decision was to leave the initial process in place. The reasoning as stated by a powerful management person, this practice has been going on a long time, and no one got sick, yet.

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Another example, Chipotle; their food philosophy was to offer the freshest ingredients from local and sustainable food producers.  What happened, Chipotle placed their trust with local producers where somewhere during the supply chain there was a breakdown in the process causing significant foodborne outbreaks.  A reputable Chipotle is now reacting to onslaughts of incitements and questions of safe food handling. In the end, the imperial thinking is Chipotle will be okay, but the local vendor’s credibility will be in question.

What does this have to do with socialism and the Millennial social movement; everything! These decisions have the direct impact on people, shortchanging the “right thing to do”. These decisions have caused and have the potential to cause public harm. At the time of these decisions there are the individuals who think no one will notice, but in the end, these type of decision play in the minds of people and the morality and ethical success of businesses.

Millennials are standing up for “doing the right thing” and casting their votes to make this happen.

Millennials are the new breed, and their thinking is based on looking around at the current system and realizing success is difficult. There are less Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos and the mountain tops are becoming proverbially smaller. Simplistically put; job security and quality of life plays a more important role than climbing the ladder of success for our Millennials.

The hospitality industry is built on the backs of the entry level employee and theme franchises. These franchises are creating a cookie cutter approach with fewer high-level opportunities which is causing the malaise for many. The resilient employees and the better educated can expect in time a promotion but at what expense to the new social values. Have we lost the entrepreneurial spirit? Is this the reason Millennium are looking at a socialized society since the road to the top is filled with bottlenecks and discontentment.

Making ethical should not be difficult but at time forces have a way of getting in the way.  I know if you’re looking for a data driven, fresh eye review then hire a person that does not compromise their ethics. Knowledge cannot be replaced, and the facts are the facts. I still believe in the American dream where hard work will pay off, but the rules have changed, and picking the battles to win the war is becoming more difficult when ethical decisions are in question. My personal values are sticking to the facts, understand the data, and apply the regulatory requirements when making decisions. I’m not sure if the Millennials have it all right, but there is something to say about take a fresh look, and exam why each of our labor-management laws was enacted.

Andrew Catalano resides in Maspeth, New York, and has worked in the hospitality service industry for over 30 years. Experiences with but not limited to working with union and non-union operations, for-profit and non-for profits in all segments of the industry; private ownership, corporate, education, and healthcare – (acute and LTC).  Andrew is an adjunct professor at CUNY and the Institute of Culinary Educations, and certified instructor with the National Restaurant Association. As the owner principle of Strategic Management Consultants Andrew prides himself with offering fresh eye reviews for the service operator, from financial review, performance management, labor optimization, marketing strategies, food safety, and employee training for both your front line and management staff. Andrew holds a Master degree in Business Management, which gives him the refined skills to think through the problems, develop a vision, and plan next steps to improve the quality and value of your operation. Please contact Andrew Catalano at for a business review.