It’s no secret that the current labor shortage is leaving a significant impact on the restaurant industry with some businesses limiting their hours or even closing permanently due to lack of staff. Amid this challenge, the makeup of the restaurant labor force is also changing – 75% of the workforce in 2020 was comprised of Gen Z or millennials. Many restaurants may need to re-think their recruitment strategies in order to attract and retain this particular talent pool.

Some quick-service restaurant chains are already capitalizing on Millennials’ and Gen Z’s passion for technology with Chipotle leveraging TikTok Resumes and one McDonald’s restaurant offering free iPhones to new employees who stay for at least six months.

While appealing to Millennials’ and Gen Z’s tech savviness is important, restaurants should take this strategy a step farther and consider ways they can implement technology to support workers with one of the key challenges most important to them – financial wellness. Millennials are already facing the second major financial crisis of their lifetime, while 71% of  Gen Z employees say they are moderately to very stressed about finances and 84% believe it’s important for employers to offer financial wellness programs. Implementing financial wellness benefits and providing Millennial and Gen Z workers with access to greater financial freedom and flexibility can be a cost-effective way for restaurant employers to recruit and retain the younger workforce.

Providing Flexibility Through On-Demand Pay

Millennials and Gen Z value instant gratification in all areas of life from being able to stream an entire season of a show in one sitting to ordering food through a delivery app and having it arrive at their doorstep within the hour. Being accustomed to this lifestyle would make it challenging to wait two weeks for a paycheck, especially when bills and unexpected expenses crop up before payday.

Offering an on-demand pay benefit can serve as a cost-effective recruiting tool, as these offerings are often free for employers to implement. They also appeal to Millennials’ and Gen Z’s inclination towards achieving flexibility and convenience through an app.

How do these benefits work? Employers partner with an on-demand pay provider and integrate the solution with their payroll system. Once employees register and download the app, they can access their earned wages ahead of payday with the push of a button. When payday rolls around, the wages employees have already taken are automatically deducted from the paycheck, creating a seamless experience for both employers and employees.

Not only is on-demand pay an effective recruiting tool, it also encourages employees to pick up more shifts because they can enjoy the instant benefit of payday. This factor is critical during the labor shortage, helping restaurant managers quickly find a back-up if one employee unexpectedly calls out sick.

Ultimately, on-demand pay is a key component of building a work culture that prioritizes financial freedom and empowerment, a supportive environment for Millennial and Gen Z workers.

Supporting Holistic Wellness Through Financial Education Resources

Another important component of building a financial wellness-oriented workforce is offering financial education resources. This benefit is particularly critical for Millennial and Gen Z workers, as many likely did not receive personal finance education in school. A study conducted in early 2020 found that the majority of states did not require students to take a course in personal finance.

Leveraging financial education resources is a cost-effective way for employers to support employees on their financial wellness journeys. Traditionally, when many employers have offered these types of benefits in the past, they often took the form of one-on-one financial counseling. While this is a great perk, it doesn’t appeal to Millennials’ and Gen Z’s preferred medium – technology. A recent survey found that 46% of millennials say they prefer to learn about finance on a website and only 25% would go to an in-person advisor. App-based solutions are a great option, as many will provide employees with customized financial strategies based on their unique situations and goals.

Offering financial education resources will help restaurants build a positive employee culture by supporting holistic well-being through inclusive benefit programs.

Building a Committed Workforce Starts With Fostering A Positive Team Culture

Recruiting and retaining a strong workforce requires meeting employees where they are. Restaurant owners and managers must understand what motivates their workers and which challenges preoccupy them most. Expanding financial wellness offerings through app-based benefits provides a cost-effective way for restaurants to support Millennial and Gen Z workers on their financial wellness journeys in the mode most suitable to them.

According to The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Gen Z views recognition, flexibility and team atmosphere as key components of an ideal job. Offering inclusive benefits, like financial wellness resources, not only helps provide workers with long-term financial flexibility, it also shows employees that their employer cares for their holistic well-being, contributing to a positive work culture overall.  


Ron Gaver is co-founder and CEO of Tapcheck where he works to ensure that as the company grows, it remains focused on its original mission of helping everyday people find financial freedom through the​employee benefit of on-demand earnings. Prior to launching Tapcheck with his wife, Kayling, Ron spent 14 years running his own real estate development company.

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