Creating Space for the Next Generation
Talk to any Gen-Zer and you’ll discover they have a wide range of interests and ideas of what they’d like to bring to the construction industry in coming years. Some focus on technological advances, while others want to embrace new materials and methods or learn from tradition while putting their own mark on the trade.
Construction companies that want to attract younger workers must focus on what they can do to make their workplaces appealing to this generation. Those that do will reap many rewards and grow with the times, positioning themselves as progressive organizations.
Is Construction a Good Job for the Future?
According to Global Data, the construction industry will grow by more than 3% through 2026, with a focus on transportation, energy and housing. Traditionally, all jobs in the sector have been plentiful at certain times of the year and pay decent wages.
The next generation may seek less manual labor and more roles that utilize machines and artificial intelligence. Like most industries, advances in robotics and computing have changed how things are done over time.
The challenge for those who own construction companies or already work in the industry will be understanding the value the highly technological generation brings.
Gen-Z is the first generation to grow up with cellphones and computers and be completely familiar with coding and computer-assisted work. It might look like they are fiddling around on smartphones or playing games when they are actually finding ways to make everyone’s lives easier and more efficient.
How can you prepare for the next generation of construction workers and make signing on with your company attractive?
1. Improve Company Culture
Younger generations care about the attitudes of the companies they work for. Some things to consider include how well everyone collaborates to accomplish a task. Does your crew work like a team, jumping in to help each other and complete projects on time?
Reward teamwork over individualism to enhance the feeling of camaraderie. You could also implement a mentorship program to help young workers team up with a more experienced professional in their area of expertise. An educational program only goes so far, and a lot of experience happens on the job. The ideal scenario is when the two people learn from one another about their field.
2. Increase Safety
The next generation is conscious of safety in a career. Construction can be a dangerous job, so it’s important that everyone is aware of current OSHA regulations and the best ways to prevent injury.
Hold safety meetings and gather input from your workers and the newcomers who just received training. Combine real-world experience with current technology and fresh ideas to ensure your employees are safe. Everyone will feel they’ve shared input based on their expertise.
3. Tap into Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One thing that might excite and attract younger construction workers is implementing AI technology into what you already do. For example, you might use machines to plan a project, work with architects who use digital models and invest in robotics.
Imagine a safer construction site where robots do the most dangerous work and humans can use their creativity and thinking skills. Rather than replacing workers, the robots serve as helpers for tasks most likely to be hazardous.
4. Embrace Diversity
The younger generation is aware of diversity and can bring about positive changes in the industry. Gen-Z may have recently graduated from high school or college, where they received training in the right use of language or sensitive terms to avoid when speaking to a group or writing a report.
For example, if you have people with varied abilities working within your organization, a Gen-Zer may have ideas about accommodating them without creating ableism. The terms used, keeping lines of communication open and consulting all your workers create an environment that attracts all types of employees and makes them feel a valued part of the team.
5. Offer Work/Life Balance
Deloitte polled over 7,400 millennials and 14,000 Gen Zers from 46 countries. It found 76% want to run their own companies and are likely to be searching for better opportunities, even if they’re happy with their current employer.
People no longer want to be bossed but want to be in command of their hours, where they work and how much money they make. This was made abundantly clear during the great resignation that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many young workers feel their pay is too low and their hours are too long. In addition, the pandemic sent many people home to work remotely. Now, employers want them back in the office, but some jobs can be done just as easily from home.
Consider the positions that require paperwork or computer detail and make them at least partially remote. Obviously, laborers must be on site to complete tasks. However, you can still offer them a flexible start and stop time, provide ample time off to be part of their families’ lives, and let them take breaks for their physical and mental well-being.
6. Embrace a Cause
More companies in the construction industry are turning to greener practices to protect the environment. Clients often demand more sustainable materials or alternatives to energy consumption.
Bringing someone on board who is adept at eco-friendly building practices can help the entire brand be greener. You can attract more customers who care about reducing their carbon footprint and use your track record to market to new audiences.
Younger workers care about the causes their companies strive toward. When given the choice between working for your brand or one that doesn’t embrace sustainability, they may favor hiring on with you.
Creativity and Compassion
All generations have to give a little to work together harmoniously. Experienced professionals have a lot to offer in the way of life skills but must recognize the new technologies younger people are more adept at. Companies that encourage all workers to respect and see the value in one another will thrive and your employees will benefit from the culture you’ve created.