The Millennial Generation, called Millennials or Generation Y, was born between the years 1980 and 2000. According the U.S. Census Bureau, this demographic will comprise the largest percentage of the construction workforce by the year 2018. Attracting Millennials to the jobsite is critical for companies who want to survive the mass exodus of retiring Baby Boomers while maintaining a strong foothold in the industry.
Currently, many jobsites have a gap in employee demographics. According to Construction Today, "...Gen X – born from 1965 to 1981 and currently 31 to 47 years of age – has not embraced construction as a career in the same percentages that prior generations did." In order to thrive, the construction industry needs to evaluate what it is Millennials are looking for and find ways to accommodate them.
The following are recommendations for attracting Millennials to your jobsite.
Educate Owners and Upper-Level Personnel
Why would construction professionals need training to hire Generation Yers? Because Millennials come to the workforce with much different attitudes than their Baby Boomer and Generation X predecessors. Generation Yers:
- Were often the products of broken homes and may not have the same kind of relationship with father-figures as previous generations
- They're attitude is more about having fun and experimenting from ages 18 to 30ish, and they may not feel they need to be serious about career, relationships, marriage, financial health, etc. until they're 30 or older.
- Millennials are the Technology Generation. They're impatient with outdated or inefficient systems.
- These are the children that got trophies for participating, who expect praise for effort - not just for accomplishment, and are products of the "helicopter parenting" approach.They're less apt to thrive without attentive guidance from superiors.
While these traits may seem undesirable to many Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, Millennials are a generation who feels it's their responsibility to improve the world. They are compassionate and serious team players when motivated. By acclimating senior members of the company to the expectations and needs of the Millennials, it will be much easier to integrate the workforce culture.
Get on Board with Technology
Generation Yers aren't the only reason to get on board the construction technology bandwagon. If your company is more of an "old school" traditionalist, you'll find yourself lagging behind your competitors even before you miss out on Millennial recruitment opportunities. Our industry has been transformed by the use of smartphones, tablets, construction-specific software and mobile technology. From designing an attractive website to boost your online marketing presence to using cloud-based construction project management software to streamline your labor and cost effectiveness, Millennials are the "Technology Generation." They're most attracted to companies who use technology to their advantage.
Look for Brains as Well as Brawn
Millennials are growing up in a world that has mantra-fied the words "college degree." They have been programmed to graduate from high school and get a degree regardless of their own interests, talents, or work opportunities. As a result, construction companies can miss out on some of the brightest and most motivated candidates if they ignore the local junior college and university scene. Conversely, companies suffer from poor employee retention if they aren't willing to be flexible so an employee can further his/her education. Offering in-house scholarships and financial assistance for employees who want to take college courses can be a great way to attract/retain Millennials who would have strayed otherwise.
Attend College Career Fairs
Construction science is a burgeoning field at the collegiate level. Contact local junior colleges and universities and find out about upcoming job fairs. Put a PR team of sorts together and work a booth at the fair. Make the effort to create brochures, have a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating recent projects, and use this as an opportunity to show your company off to Millennials. Career fairs are a great way to recruit the talent in your community and beyond. Larger companies are hiring full-time recruiters to do this work for them, scouring state schools for the brightest and the best.
Establish a Solid Mentoring System
As we mentioned above, the Millennials are a generation that received praise often and who were rarely left to figure things out for themselves. As a result, they can seem flighty and like they lack a work ethic. This isn't the case. However, they will probably need more leadership and guidance as they figure out where their strengths lie and what positions interest them the most. Senior management should be accessible and new Millennial employees should be paired with some sort of mentor, ideally someone who isn't too much older than they are, who can help them as they become more experienced and confident on the job.
Your flexibility and willingness to accommodate Millennials is the next step in building a successful construction business that can transition into the next generation.