Every day brings another theory about how millennials are changing the American workplace, but this much is indisputable: Members of this group between ages 20 and 36 already make up 67 percent of Darden’s workforce.
At 79.8 million strong and the nation’s largest generation, millennials are poised to compose 75 percent of all U.S. employees by 2025, researchers predict, and they promise to be an indomitable force.
It’s only natural — and good business — that Darden has turned much of its attention to hiring and retaining millennials. Our restaurants, with their flexible schedules, are a good fit for the group, many of whom consider workplace flexibility more important than pay, said Katie Pfingsten, a millennial herself, who is a talent acquisition specialist for Olive Garden.
Darden’s opportunities for advancement and career satisfaction also match millennials’ wish lists, she said. More than half of Darden restaurant managers come from our hourly ranks, and we promote nearly 1,000 team members a year into management. Almost 100 percent of Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse general managers, managing partners and directors of operations were promoted internally.
“Still, it’s a very competitive hiring environment since we have record low unemployment across the country,” said Theresa Willings, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Olive Garden. “There are more choices for our team members and managers to go elsewhere so we have to continue to give them reasons to stay.”
Scott Williams, Director of Talent Acquisition for LongHorn Steakhouse, said millennials don’t always get enough credit. “They are attracted to companies with strong ethics and a sense of social responsibility. These are good things! These are also qualities that Darden possesses.”
He said millennials at LongHorn are proud of “the quality of the food we serve, our commitment to community involvement and our sense of family. Their desire for constant feedback aligns with our winning behaviors and culture, and they want work-life balance. Millennials bring great things to the table and expect great things in return. They may change jobs often, but they only do that if their needs are not being nurtured.”
To keep up with hiring needs, Darden mobilized its talent acquisition so that prospective team members can apply anytime, anywhere, on any device – cell phone, laptop, tablet, even an Xbox.
Personal connections are important to millennials, who sometimes experience a blending of their personal and professional lives. “They want to see their boss as a person and not as this scary entity in an office whom they have to go see once a week. They want a supervisor who’s approachable and understanding of their personal commitments,” Katie said.
This first generation to grow up with technology at its fingertips embraces digital technology like no other, so recruiting efforts have kept up with the times by focusing on social media. Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Seasons 52 and Yard House all have job-focused careers pages on Facebook.
“As Darden continues to embrace new technology, we’ll become even more attractive as an employer,” Scott said.
Interested in working at one of our restaurants? Apply here.