Even though the construction industry continues to make improvements in technology, offers great compensation and benefits packages, creates opportunities for upward mobility and boasts bountiful jobs available for both genders, why aren’t more young people entering the industry? One primary reason is that construction careers simply have not been adequately promoted to America’s youth. It’s up to the industry to showcase and leverage the benefits of pursuing a career in construction to inevitably attract new, younger talent. According to a recent article written by Holsinger and Drury published in the AGC Constructor Magazine, to help solve this problem, “construction companies must embrace the emerging Z Generation (recent high school graduates) as well as the tail end of the Millennial generation (those just graduating college). Investing in their training and education to help them in their career goals and becoming contributors to their success will be the key to helping a contractor achieve strategic hiring and retention goals.”
The combination of an aging workforce and the lack of skilled labor—coupled with the industry’s ongoing negative image issues—continues to have a huge impact on the abilities of small to medium construction firms to offer competitive pricing and can ultimately impede their capabilities of simply completing jobs on schedule. However, even with the competition for skilled labor growing more intense, there are still ways to make your company more attractive to young recruits. Here are a few tips you may want to consider as you redefine your recruitment practices to target younger generations:
Appeal to Their Sense of Purpose: Establish How Your Company is Making the World a Better Place
Now more than ever, millennials are seeking jobs that give them a sense of purpose and a sense of community. They want to work in a profession they can feel proud of, not only at work but outside the workplace as well. More than one third of millennials surveyed by American Express “define success as doing work that has some type of substantial positive impact on society.” If you want to attract the younger demographic, it’s important for your potential new hires to see how they can contribute to making a positive impact on the community, society, and the environment through the work they regularly perform for your company.
Appeal to Their Sense of Growth: Illustrate How Your Company Fosters Upward Mobility
Millennials want to be deeply rooted in the work they perform on a daily basis, and they profoundly value the ability to acquire new skill sets and achieve upward mobility in their chosen professions. According to research conducted by the Harvard Business Review, one of the primary factors millennials consider when choosing a job is the ability to learn and advance. This is why it’s imperative to emphasize the fact that someone can continue to advance up the proverbial professional ladder if they choose to work for your construction firm.
Consider offering a mentorship program where you pair an entry-level new hire with a veteran employee of your company. Also think about creating an incentivization and rewards program to motivate and encourage younger employees hoping to excel within your company. Illustrating that your employees come first and are truly valued can improve their performance, increase retention rates and ensure their longevity with your company. Clearly define and showcase all of the ways in which someone could advance while working for your company, because doing so will inevitably help you attract more talent from the younger generation.
Appeal to Their Sense of Culture: Tout How Your Company Creates an Inclusive Environment
Be diligent about creating an inclusive environment where your employees feel safe, secure and supported—regardless of their background. A recent survey of millennials conducted by PwC revealed “over half of those polled said they felt while companies talk about diversity, they did not believe that opportunities were equal for all.” Consider implementing a diversity and inclusion program aimed at assisting individuals underrepresented in the industry and incentivize your younger employees who choose to support or participate in these programs. Create an “open door” policy—whether publicly or anonymously—in your workplace where your employees feel safe and comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns and be sure to proactively address their thoughts and feelings. By fostering an inclusive work environment, you will make your employees feel respected and appreciated, ultimately cultivating happy, satisfied workers who are more committed to your company’s long-term success.
Being in an industry that is not considered a “sexy” career option by the masses can make it challenging to create and focus on the fun and social aspects of working in the construction industry. According to another recent study, 88% of Millennials reported wanting a “fun and social” workplace—a significantly higher proportion than the 60% of baby boomers who reported the same thing.
Happy employees are generally healthier and more productive, so don’t undervalue the importance of incorporating a little fun in the workplace. Consider hosting a company field trip or designing fun team building challenges and contests to bring out their competitive edge. Organize company social events and networking gatherings to bring your team closer together in an informal and relaxing setting. Most importantly, make sure you capitalize on the opportunities these activities present to market and promote your company’s fun side on available social media platforms! Millennials are used to social media ads where things have to catch their attention quickly, so make sure they know what sets your company apart from your competitors and how you strive to create the “fun factor” for your valued staff.
Appeal to Their Sense of Self: Prove How Your Company Embraces Flexibility & Work-Life Balance
One of the best ways to attract millennials and Gen Z’ers to your company is to offer flexible work options. In a recent survey conducted by American Express, 75% of millennials polled stated “a successful business should be flexible, even in an environment of volatility, and not enforce a rigid structure on employees.” Whether you offer flexible work hours or the potential to occasionally work remotely , these workplace options are becoming more commonplace and will likely attract younger workers.
Let’s face it, the lines between work and personal life are oftentimes blurred, and the ability to obtain a little flexibility here and there makes that balance seem more manageable. There are obviously certain roles and jobs within our industry that cannot allow for flexible hours or work-from-home options; however, your company can still strive to offer some creative alternatives that will provide a more enhanced work-life balance that will allow you to attract the best new talent as an employer.
Appeal to Their Sense of Investment: Highlight How Your Company Offers Amazing Pay & Benefits
One constant remains the same regardless of the current generation—everyone desires to live a comfortable life where their basic needs are met and they have enough income to also enjoy the fruits of life. So, if you want to attract younger talent to your job sites, the first place you should start (really when attracting anyone to your company) is by offering and advertising that you provide competitive pay and benefits. The bottom line is simple, a career choice needs to provide opportunities for them to secure their future.
To paint the bigger picture for millennials and Gen Z’ers and to help them realize the value of pursuing careers in construction, it is vital that they feel working for you is a career move that will allow them to build and maintain their desired quality of life. It’s important that the compensation you offer is comparable to what they might be making elsewhere, or at least it can and will be if they continue working for your company. Health care plans, vacation days, parental leave, opportunities for professional development and retirement plans are all benefits most millennials and Gen Z’ers are quite are vocal about wanting in order to make their career selections. By offering these types of benefits packages, your company sends the message that you are willing to invest in anyone who is also willing to invest in growing with your company.
Putting All the Pieces Together to Make it Work for Your Company
Finally, it’s truly about the “total package” for most employees, not just the younger ones. With so many construction firms feeling the pains of the widespread labor shortage, employers—now more than ever—must embrace more creative practices for attracting new talent by showcasing what makes their companies stand out from the pack. By highlighting all the positives of the construction industry and focusing on the individual and unique perks your company offers, you set yourself apart from your competitors and ensure not only your company’s sustainability, but also its growth for many years to come!
For more information on the CAGC Foundation’s Build Your Career workforce development initiative, please visit our website or contact Program Director, Tammy Ford, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (704) 995-3901.