How to Recruit, Retain, and Engage Millennials and Generation Z

It is well known that millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce, and savvy companies have been working to improve their recruitment, retention, and engagement strategies for that generation. But the construction industry cannot overlook the up-and-coming Generation Z workers whose presence in the workforce is already substantial and will only continue to grow. There is a lot of overlap between what these generations want and need from their employers, but each generation also has distinct requirements that construction companies should be aware of as they seek to secure top talent at every level. Here’s a look at some of the best ways that companies can make their organizations (and jobs in construction and the trades in general) appealing to both millennials and Generation Z.

Millennials in Construction

Much has been written about the vast differences between millennial and baby boomer motivations and expectations when it comes to work. Employers have been adapting their companies to better suit the needs of the growing millennial workforce for the past several years, and some strategies have been more successful than others. Contrary to popular opinion, bean bag chairs and espresso machines are not the best methods for recruiting, retaining, or engaging millennial employees. The most important thing that millennial employees look for is the opportunity to make a positive impact - on their company and on the world. Construction companies that emphasize sustainability, environmental consciousness, and inclusive company cultures are landing top millennial talent at a much higher rate than those who focus on superficial perks of the job. In addition to wanting jobs that focus on bettering the world, millennials want the opportunity to make their mark on their specific company, so it’s important for managers to listen to what millennial employees think, provide space for new ideas to be tested, and be open to changing how things have always been done. This generation can provide fresh new perspectives to decades-old problems, if companies are willing to keep an open mind and allow for positive changes.

In addition to sustainability and inclusivity, millennials in construction are also championing the increased use of technology to improve quality, speed, and safety on construction sites. Companies that are embracing cutting-edge technology (such as wearables and virtual reality training) will stand out to millennial candidates. Companies that have not already started using the latest technologies would do well to include their millennial employees in the planning and implementation process when they do choose to upgrade; this provides those employees with a sense of ownership over significant company improvements, and allows them an opportunity to demonstrate their technological expertise. Millennials know that they have plenty to learn from their baby boomer mentors about the construction industry, and this is an instance where they also have something important to offer in return.

Generation Z in Construction

GenZ employees share many qualities with their millennial predecessors, including a desire for a bigger purpose in their work and a commitment to embracing technological innovations. But for this generation that watched their parents struggle through the Great Recession, a new benefit to the construction industry as a whole has emerged: long-term career stability and a chance to launch a career without piling up student debt. In order to secure the best and brightest from Generation Z, construction companies simply need to improve their outreach programs at local middle and high schools, community colleges, and trade schools. Create internship programs that will give these up-and-coming workers hands-on experience in construction and the trades, and educate them on the competitive salaries, career stability, and challenging work offered in the industry. Members of this generation have seen the cost of four-year universities skyrocket while career stability in white-collar jobs has plummeted, so offer them an alternative path in an industry that will pay their bills, allow them access to exciting new technologies, AND allow them to make a positive impact on the world. 

While Generation Z’s representation in the workforce is growing every day, many of its members have yet to join the working class ranks, and most who have are still relatively inexperienced. For new employees and prospective candidates or interns, companies should make sure to pair them with experienced mentors who can teach them not only how to succeed in the construction industry, but also important lessons in professionalism and business acumen. Construction companies create teams of high-performing and loyal employees by investing in sharp, promising candidates and training them in the ways of construction and professionalism 

As helpful as it can be to study generational trends and design recruitment, retention, and engagement approaches around those social patterns, it’s important to remember that each employee is unique and that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to management is unlikely to be effective. Managers should be sure to treat all of their employees as individuals and touch base regularly to make sure each employee’s specific needs are being met. For any generation of workers, good communication is the best recruitment, retention, and engagement strategy of all. 

By Editorial Staff | 12/17/2019 | Construction Recruiting, Recruiting Millennials and Generation Z |