My former business partner has kept a framed picture on his wall for his entire career, or at least for the 30 years I have known him. It is a picture of an older man, wizardly in appearance, who is staring intently into a large crystal ball.
When I first saw this picture, I asked my partner why he had this particular piece of art hanging on his wall. “Much of what any of us do in business,” he said, “is an attempt to predict the outcomes of our decisions and actions. We are hoping to successfully predict the future.” This picture was a daily reminder to him of that challenge and its significance to business.
Certainly, none of us can predict the future, especially given the current situation. But each of us makes decisions every day based on what we believe the future will hold. We attempt to anticipate how situations will occur, how others may react, or what we believe will be the results of our efforts.
The design and construction industry is changing more rapidly today than ever before. The next decade will continue to experience new trends and business models we can’t foresee. But there are signs of changes and trends starting now that will become more prevalent and have a greater impact on business in the next few years. Below are some of the top trends I believe we will see in our business community during this decade.
Greater focus on increased productivity: The construction industry has been experiencing a labor shortage for a number of years. Regardless, virtually every aspect of our industry is seeking to increase productivity more than ever. Businesses will need to produce more, with fewer resources and in less time, to remain competitive. Automation, robotics and software developments will be significant factors in the need to increase productivity. But the way we work will change as well. Remote work options are already becoming more prevalent. Companies are outfitting their employees with greater technology tools and fewer office spaces. The typical office environment will continue to transition as Working from home takes on a greater emphasis. More meetings will be held digitally, and business travel will become more focused and purposeful. In every manner possible, companies will continually seek opportunities to do more with less.
Millennials moving into the C-Suites: The old guard of the C-suite, the baby boomers, are rapidly exiting the positions of power within organizations. Understandably, the youngest baby boomers are now approaching their sixties. Conversely, the oldest of the millennial generation are now in their mid-thirties, with 10 to 15 years of experience in the workplace. Given the sheer size of the millennial generation and the relatively small size of Generation X, millennials will increasingly start occupying the C-suite offices. This generation will bring a new and different mindset and culture to business. Their new-found leadership will allow them to impact change, and the business world will adapt to the power of this generation. For the past number of years, baby boomers have complained about millennials. But during the next 10 years, the millennial generation will take over the business world from the boomers.
Less employee turnover: During the past few years, employee turnover and job-hopping have consistently increased. The data shows that millennials move around more often than previous generations, and this trend continues to pose a problem for businesses. It’s a well-documented fact that employee turnover is extremely expensive for companies. The best companies have been responding to this trend with several initiatives focused on retaining their employees. These retention programs have begun to work, and at a number of companies, employee retention rates have begun to increase. Coupled with data showing that people are now more likely to hold trust in an employer than most other institutions, individuals will begin to take more of a long-term approach to their employment. As the millennial generation continues to age, they will desire employers where they can invest in a long-term career and become an integral part of that company. Consequently, individuals who continue to change jobs often will have a greater chance of being labeled as unreliable and a hiring risk.
Continued growth of entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship has been a big buzzword for the last 10 years. But the wave of entrepreneurship is just beginning. Today, it is easier than ever to start a new business. Whether becoming a solopreneur, taking on freelancing work, joining the ranks of a consultant or simply creating a new business, there are more tools and technology available today than ever before to facilitate this process. Social media has made advertising readily available and inexpensive and allows funding to be found in ways never imagined. Given that a large percentage of work in the design and construction industry is project focused, these firms are embracing 1099 employees, those who work as independent contractors and are not company hires. Individuals with specific skill sets are finding opportunities with a variety of design and construction firms who desperately need their skills on a part-time or as-needed basis. And entrepreneurship has now become an arena wherein one can easily work for a few years, then go back to working as a full-time employee for a company, without receiving a negative stigma.
Non-profit and community engagement growth: The past decade saw a dramatic increase in the personal wealth of the top one percent of earners. While this is a societal issue that is being hotly debated today, there is one impact that will definitely be a result of this trend–philanthropic giving. For several reasons, the wealthy will be giving away more money to nonprofits than ever before. If nothing else, the giving pledge started by billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates is anticipated to reach more than $600 billion by 2022. In response to this influx of charitable funds, nonprofits will begin to find themselves with a significant amount of dollars to manage and direct. The leadership of the millennial generation will embrace this growth in non-profit and community engagement. As these individuals continue to assume leadership positions, they will further encourage the usage of both personal and corporate funds for philanthropy and the betterment of their communities.
This decade will be full of exciting trends and business models for the design and construction industry. Like the picture my business partner kept on his wall, we all need to look into our figurative crystal ball and attempt to predict the trends and changes that will impact our business and careers. Doing so will provide a greater sense of direction and confidence to move forward. In turn, it will shape how we each operate individually and how corporations conduct their business.
Brian T. King is an entrepreneur and the President and Owner of A M King, a Design-Build firm that provides multiple services required of highly complex facilities in niche markets throughout the United States. To connect with Brian and gain more of his insights on business strategy, career development and entrepreneurship, visit www.briantking.com