The construction industry’s age gap isn’t just a localized problem; it’s a global one. Some of the world’s biggest economies, including the U.S., U.K. and Australia are all experiencing labor shortages and finding it hard to attract the next generation of workers. The problem is further compounded in positions that require a lot of skill, training and experience for success.
Fewer young people are choosing to join the industry than in previous generations. Companies that do manage to attract younger talent often find them leaving earlier than expected. As a result, it’s becoming more challenging to recruit the construction leaders needed to keep these firms going into the future.
Finding and training the next wave of industry leaders doesn’t have to feel impossible. Customizing a company’s approach to both recruiting and retention efforts with the needs of the millennials and Generation Z in mind will pay off for years to come. In our latest ebook, “Handing Down the Construction Industry to the Next Generation,” we discuss how to hand over the reins to tomorrow’s construction leaders.
Any construction firm can feel confident in their plans to keep their growth going with the right team of future executives and project managers. Here are a few tips that will help your company find, nurture and grow the next generation of construction leaders.
Maintaining Employee Engagement
Today’s younger workers aren’t only looking for a paycheck. They want to feel deeply involved in their company’s strategy. They want to grapple with challenges and see the difference they’re making.
Of course, the construction industry doesn’t always naturally provide this kind of engagement right out of the gate. It’s up to individual companies to tailor their management styles to facilitate and empower this type of engagement rather than to discourage it. Methods vary depending on the sector and company size, but some ideas include:
- Getting involved with the local community through outreach and volunteering opportunities
- Offering more paid continued education with access to conventions, seminars and other career-enriching events
- Increasing flexibility in office hours and telecommuting options, so employees don’t feel chained to their desks
- Building strong communication methods that help younger workers open up when there’s an issue rather than simply moving on to a different company or career
Offering Appropriate Positions
Disconnected job offerings fail to attract appropriate applicants. While candidates traditionally filled managerial positions at construction firms with decades of work experience, the next generation is arriving with diplomas in hand instead. Someone who has spent four to six years studying project management doesn’t want to take a low-paying entry-level construction job to accumulate a few years of experience before becoming a project engineer or manager. While work experience is invaluable, it’s not always going to be realistic to expect it from recent graduates.
Today’s educational programs are much better tailored to preparing graduates for the real challenges of the construction industry, but some amount of on-the-job training is always required. Don’t be afraid to compromise on experience requirements to attract a generation of workers who largely chose to attend college rather than working directly after high school.
Adopting the Right Technology
Millennials have been using cutting-edge forms of technology since they were children, so they’re going to expect that to continue in the career they choose. College and technical schools train students on advanced software, and they expect to use it. By adopting technology ahead of bringing in the next generation of leaders, a construction company sends a clear message that they’re keeping up with the times rather than expecting millennials and Generation Z employees to rely on less powerful managerial and planning tools.
Creating an Attractive Leadership Style
Never underestimate the power of a current company’s leaders to attract its next generation. Since succession is a slow and gradual process in construction companies, the next executives and decision-makers spend quite a bit of time working under their predecessors before taking over. Strong and appropriate leadership styles not only attract the best recruits, but they also build the skills of the successors, so they’re confident in their abilities to lead.
Millennials often want to know more about the decision-making process and background details than previous generations did, so adapting to a leadership style that encourages rather than stifles their desire to know more is a great way to attract the next wave of talent. Many current leadership styles favored in the construction industry would balk at a lower level employee questioning the decisions of their superiors, but this is a powerful tool that companies can use to drive innovation and improvements.
Defining a Company’s Mission
Finally, tomorrow’s construction managers and executives want to know where a company is headed before they commit to it. For many construction companies, the idea of a mission statement or company vision is new. Yet, if they sit down and go through a brainstorming session about the concept, these same companies often find they’ve been informally following a shared vision or goal all along. When a millennial finds a company that has a clear vision and truly works towards it, they’re much more likely to offer that company their loyalty in return.
Building the Next Generation of Construction Leaders Starts Today
It’s never too late to improve a construction firm’s style of recruitment or training for new hires. Download our ebook titled, “Handing Down the Construction Industry to the Next Generation,” to learn how to make a company more appealing to the most qualified young applicants.