Around 200 of Australia’s top publicans and industry leaders headed into Sydney for an action-packed day of presentations, panel discussions, and networking on Monday.

In her keynote, Win the talent war: How to attract and retain Millennial Leaders and Gen Z workers, workforce change expert Alicia Stephenson kicked things off with a research-backed analysis on cutting-edge recruitment, retention and leadership strategies for the recovering sector.

As CEO of the Centre for Generational Dynamics and an organisational psychologist, Stephenson explored the key motivators for Millennial and Gen Z staff based on four years of data and deep dive discovery interviews.

“What we need to realise is that in this industry, we capture workers young. Now this is undeniably one of the industry’s strengths… but the question is, what keeps young people in roles longer?”

With this in mind, Stephenson stressed the importance of the first six months of employment.

“We need to understand that the longer that person stays in our organisation, the better that is for our bottom line.

“The more we have to offer them, the less we will have to attract and retain new people, so is it not incumbent upon us to make that first six-month experience a little bit more exciting?”

Stephenson outlined a number of research-backed techniques to keep new staff engaged and in the business for longer, including reward and recognition programs, mentorship, future business owners training to encourage those with a side-gig, and ‘meaning matters’ programs that bring staff together to make the world a better place.

“We need to break down that traditional idea of ‘this is where you begin and this is how you learn from the ground up’.

“I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with that – everybody needs to learn the ropes,” she said. “But if we can have some exciting things injected into those first six months, new staff will get a much broader picture of the ecosystem and of what it’s like to work in hospitality.”

The Pub Leaders Summit, which took place on Monday in Pyrmont, Sydney, has followed two years of extreme turbulence for the sector, and the event aimed to bring the industry together to explore new solutions and sow the seeds of recovery.

Many other industry leaders took to the stage from KPMG, ME&U, The AHA, JLL Hotels, Quantaco, SevenRooms, and the Gaming Technologies Association to share data and insights in key areas.

Leading operators including Laundy Hotels, Applejack Hospitality, Momento Hospitality, Merivale, Australian Venue Co., Sand Hill Road, Odd Culture Group, Flower Hotels, Hunt Hospitality, The Royal Albert hotel, and the Woolpack Hotel also shared their experiences and explored the challenges and opportunities in the current landscape.

You’ll find our full Pub Leaders Summit 2022 wrap in the May issue of Australian Hotelier.

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