A lot has been said about millennials. They’re lazy, they love participation trophies, and they’re technology focused. They’re also the largest generation in the labor force, outnumbering Baby Boomers and Gen X.1 There are lots of roadblocks keeping millennials from joining the construction industry, leading to a construction labor shortage that can be damaging to your site. So, if you do have millennials on your team, you’ll have to approach construction management a little differently to keep millennials in construction. Here are construction site management tips for working with millennials.
Why Are Millennials Not Getting into Construction?
Perception is a powerful thing, and many people perceive hard work as something besides getting your hands dirty and building. Mike Rowe puts it best:
“This country’s made dirt the enemy. Dirt used to be a badge of honor. Dirt used to look like work. But we’ve scrubbed the dirt off the face of work and consequently we’ve created this suspicion of anything that’s too dirty.” 2
Millennials have the idea that a college degree is what they need to get a good job, and their idea of what makes a job “good” is very different from skilled labor in the construction industry. But with fewer cushy office jobs for these kids, there are more millennials in construction. A different worldview and approach to work can make millennials a tough group to manage, but it is possible to manage millennials in construction.
Tips for Managing Millennials in Blue-Collar Jobs
Before an employee steps onto the jobsite, you should make sure that they’re fully trained in all safety procedures. We offer OSHA courses, environmental classes, and safety training to help keep all workers safe and up to date on required certifications.
Managing millennials in blue-collar jobs starts with understanding their motivations. Millennials thrive off of feedback and new reward systems. No, this doesn’t mean handing out participation trophies. It means:
- Reviewing millennials frequently so they understand their job performance
- Basing raises and rewards off of performance, such as giving employees promotions when they consistently do a good job rather than the standard annual raise
- Building a team environment, even though millennials are always buried in their smartphones, they love being part of a team
- Finding common ground to connect with millennials in blue-collar jobs, such as shared interests
Millennials don’t exactly have the best reputation, especially when it comes to skilled labor. But given the right management, these workers can be important team players who help your company. Millennials are looking for growth, so giving them options for growth at their current job will keep them around and reduce the construction labor shortage. Best yet, their love for technology makes them quick learners when it comes to adapting to new tech on the construction site.
- Pew Research Center – Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force
- CNN – Cleaning Up ‘Dirty Jobs’