Attract and retain tomorrow’s leaders with the culture they crave.
With the construction industry booming, builders are worrying less about procuring work and more about having enough people to do the job. And they’re finding it isn’t as easy as it used to be to hire the right people and keep them around. Recruiting and retaining talent has taken on new urgency.
Millennials make up much of the talent pool. In fact, by 2020, they will constitute half of the working population. It’s these workers who will eventually take over for the aging construction managers currently in place. In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average construction manager was 55.7 years old.
With the generation gap between workers heading into retirement and those replacing them, employers who want to win the recruiting and retention game need to understand what millennials look for in a company — and tailor their culture accordingly.
Here are seven offerings and characteristics research shows millennials seek.
Job satisfaction doesn’t come solely from a paycheck anymore, but that doesn’t mean millennials don’t care about how they’re compensated. When millennials entered the workforce at the beginning of the recession, jobs were harder to come by and young professionals were knocking down doors looking for a job. Now, talented millennials know that they can go to a competitor next door and get a pay raise. They’re also starting to have kids and planning for retirement, so money for today and tomorrow is important.
That means companies must be competitive with their basic benefits. Millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers all believe the most important benefits are health insurance, a matching 401(k) plans and vacation time. Financial services firm Capital Group called a 401(k) plan “table stakes” for millennials. But that’s not all they want. A survey they conducted found that 37 percent of millennials want tuition reimbursement. Almost as many, 34 percent, said they want a 529 college savings plan.
The chance to make a difference
With people scattered across jobsites, it’s easy for teams to become siloed, which can make employees feel disconnected from the company’s mission. But millennials want to feel involved in that mission and know that their contributions count.
One way to encourage that sense of involvement and importance is to create committees or work groups that allow employees across locations to collaborate on specific endeavors such as technology improvements.
Justin Martin, 25-year-old project manager at Cely Construction Company in Greenville, South Carolina, said his company shows they value him primarily through bonuses, raises, and flexible time off. But, he added, “I often feel they value me by simply listening to my opinions and trusting my judgement enough to implement my ideas.”
Beyond supporting their company’s mission, millennials want to be a part of a company that makes a positive difference in the world. According to a report by Cone Communications, 76 percent of millennials said they research and consider a company’s involvement with corporate social responsibility before accepting a job.
Companies that embrace diversity are also seeing higher retention rates among their millennial employees. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018, 69 percent of millennial employees who believe they work for a diverse organization plan to stay at their company longer than five years compared to 27 percent who would stay long-term if their company did not focus on creating diverse teams.
Benefits that encourage work-life balance
Deloitte's survey also found that a flexible environment is a top factor in employee satisfaction. Now that millennials are starting to have families, they are looking for companies that allow them to make a living while still putting their family first. This means employees will be drawn to companies that offer flexible start and end times, work-from-home options and the ability to morph into different roles that best fit their lifestyle.
Open communication and feedback
For any generation, a manger’s ability to give constructive criticism and positive reinforcement can have a major influence on an employee’s job satisfaction. For millennials, the desire for feedback is even greater. So much so that in one study, 42 percent of millennials said they want to hear from their managers about their performance every week.
Just as they value transparency from their bosses — in terms of performance feedback and everything else — they also want the ability to speak their minds without fearing negative consequences.
A culture that embraces innovation and technology
In the construction industry, many companies are still struggling to adopt new technology. Companies that can keep up and give their workers technology that lets them do their jobs efficiently will be more likely to attract millennials, who have grown up with all of the newest gadgets at their fingertips. The ability to use and learn cutting-edge tools can also help keep engagement levels high.
If some workers aren’t as familiar with those tools, invite your millennial employees to show them the way, through reverse mentorships, for instance.
Give millennials the opportunity to shine and grow in their work lives while thriving in their personal lives and you’re likely to get increased loyalty in return.
Donna Puglisi is a communications and marketing professional specializing in the construction industry.