"It is very easy to defeat someone but it is very hard to win someone." - Abdul Kalam
Millennials have to win and want to feel like they've been won, you are lucky to have them. Thanks to all of the participation awards given out like toothbrushes at a dentists office, we are up against a generation that not only needs awards for self gratification, but expects them from employers. However, those rewards are not primarily based around monetary incentives, things like personal recognition from their boss, a happy culture, and a defined path for advancement is what drives today's workforce and makes them feel rewarded.
A topic in which the construction industry is misperceived by a lot of millennials is the blue collar stigma and lack of advancement. "I don't want to be a laborer my whole life" is a common thought when thinking of the types of roles associated with construction. Images of men in hard hats, sweaty, and dirty while performing labororess jobs flood any Google image search of construction worker. We need to start "winning" over the millennials by first educating them on how their career can advance in construction and all of the roles it takes to complete a project. This should start in middle school, high school and college. Russco, Inc. has recently started a college internship program that focuses solely on the re-education of the youth on what working in construction really means for their future. Interns are taken under the wing by Russco's Senior Director of Construction, Phillip Simmonds- Short in order to get a high-level view of the business and it's components, "We at Russco are excited about the internship program and how much we can all gain from the new talent out there" says Phillip, "whilst also imparting 65 years of experience in the retail general contracting industry." We as an industry are responsible for removing these stigmas and creating a clear path for our future employees, as revealed by The Hartford's 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey only 7% of participants showed interest in pursing careers in construction, we can't afford not to.
"Millennials expect to create a better future, using the collaborative power of digital technology" - Mal Fletcher
Technology is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about a construction site and most construction companies are still skeptical about investing in mobile apps. "We've always done it this way" seems to be an attitude generated by too many in the field, especially when we are living in such a fast past world that demands adaptability. Mobile apps such as Viewpoint, which lets users track time and productivity in a grid and has the feel of a spreadsheet gives your team real-time capabilities. Users can also take and organize job-site progress photos that are tagged automatically with a date, location and job code. Other favorites like Fieldwire and Plangrid have collaborative features ensuring all members of the project from superintendents to architects can communicate and share updates in one central location. Millennials want to work for companies who are on the cutting edge of their industry, you have to remember they grew up with Version 2.0 mindsets and are always looking for the next best piece of technology that can make their lives easier and work efficient. While the veteran project manager or superintendent whose always performed well with just a pen and a pad may not be tech savvy, their replacements are and we should adapt to their work style which in turn will lead to a more productive workforce, investment well made.
"The more risks you allow children to take, the better they learn to take care of themselves" - Roald Dahl
The term helicopter parent has been a strong buzz word over the last couple of years when referring to the people who have raised the millennials with kid gloves and hand sanitizer every five seconds. It's no wonder millennials are reluctant to enter in an industry to which they and their parents may deem as unsafe. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) has made great strides and improvements to the safety of job sites over the last four decades, dramatically dropping the number of worksite injury or illness. Safety should be a core topic in every construction company and at Russco, Inc. we are proud to have led an accident-free team throughout the years. On-going training and development is what millennials need to feel secure and confidant resulting in fewer mistakes that could cause injury to themselves or others. Taking to social media to promote safety records and provide education on workplace safety is also a great platform to show future employees that safety is a priority and on the forefront of the companies mind.
Facing a threatening labor shortage and an aging workforce for an increasing industry, a shift in the way construction companies operate and market to millennials has to happen sooner rather than later. Educating, building and adapting are key components in beginning to make that shift a reality.