What should millennials’ ideal employer offer to attract them: more money, great reputation or a good working environment? A survey of graduating students from four Swiss hotel schools provides valuable insights.

By Alexandra Marinova

My thesis set out to answer these questions, based on a sample of 525 graduating students from four Swiss hotel management schools: EHL, Les Roches, Glion and SHL (Schweizerische Hotelfachschule Luzern). Specific emphasis was placed on the Employer Branding aspects which employers can offer in order to appeal to the young graduates.

What is Employer Branding?   

This concept has been gaining popularity amongst employers in recent years and there are different definitions, given by different authors. In brief:

Employer Branding is a mixture of Marketing and Human resource concepts, where marketing and branding principles and tools are applied to potential and current employees in the recruitment and retention process.

Employer Branding is important both for students seeking a job and for companies eager to attract new talent. It helps companies build brand awareness and differentiate themselves from competition, when attracting employees and it helps students make a better choice of their future employer. Employer Branding is a key element of a company’s human resources strategy, which defines the employer brand content (the messages to be communicated) and the channels through which this content is communicated, so that the company is able to attract its target group of employees.

What are Hospitality Management graduates Looking for in their first job?

My research specifically examined 24 employer attractiveness attributes (split into five value dimensions) and assessed their importance for attracting Millennials to their ideal employer in the hospitality industry. It also reviewed the relevance of five key Employer Branding channels used by the companies to transmit these attributes.

Overall, the symbolic attributes (i.e. these not related to material aspects) seem to outweigh economic attributes in the expectations of Millennials from their ideal employer. There were no significant differences between the different schools, genders or nationalities in terms of these values rankings.

The importance of social value

The Employer Branding attributes which scored highest relate to the social value dimension: graduates attach the greatest importance to having a respectful work environment, a good manager/supervisor, friendly relationships with colleagues and a team atmosphere.

There are also no differences in terms of social value influence (the number one-ranked value) between the students who are seeking to pursue a career in the hospitality industry and these who are not – both groups are drawn by the same attributes, without any significant difference between schools, nationalities or gender.

Career development and diversity

The second group of attributes important for Millennials relate to the development and the diversity value dimensions: getting recognition for individual work, having interesting tasks and empowering working environment.

Salary and beyond

Economic value attributes seemed to be of lesser relative importance to the graduates, although the attribute of “having a good salary” scored 7th out of the 24 attributes. This shows that the hotel school graduates pay good attention to salary, however the other economic attributes (such as good retirement and health benefits, job security) are rated much lower by the respondents, probably due to their young age.

Not so much about prestige anymore

The least important for the graduates were the reputation value attributes represented by: good quality of company products/well-known products, good reputation of the company amongst friends, good company to have on the CV.

Employers: what to do to better attract hotel school graduates?

Invest in building a great internship experience. This is, by far, the most influential Employer Branding communication channel for the hotel school graduates.

It is followed by three other channels, which rank almost equally with each other: company participation in social or educational events on campus; company job fair participation and company career website presence.

The channel with the least influence on attraction came out to be company social media presence.