Countless op-ed articles have been published about the faults of the millennial generation (those born between 1981 and 1996) and their relationship to work. Terms like lazy, entitled, and disloyal are thrown around to describe how millennials are viewed in the eyes of their employers.
Generally, these opinions come from baby boomers whose company cultures have never changed. An unwillingness to rethink company structure to accommodate the largest generation in the U.S. labor force is typically the problem, not the workers themselves.
So, are millennials as bad employees as they’re made out to be? No, just different. Negatives to some employers are an advantage to most. The construction industry, whose workforce is aging out at rapid rates, is especially urged to embrace the strengths of millennials and open their mind’s to new ideas of work.
We’ll cover 5 traits of millennials that will help the construction industry. Of course, these are generalizations and don’t speak for all individuals.
Millennials are scrappy. Between graduating into the aftermath of the Great Recession and paying off the highest student loan debts in history, many of them are forced to be creative in order to survive.
While this trait has earned millennial the distinguished Job-Hopping Generation mark, their adaptability has become a positive for employers who manage to retain this ambitious group. Millennials learn quickly, picking up new skills necessary for the changing construction industry.
They are successful generalists prepared for whatever you throw at them rather than stringent specialists resistant to change.
An all-work, no-play mindset is baked into the crust of many boomer-run businesses. But no fun leads to burnout.
Even though they’re always hyper-connected millennials are redefining work-life balance. Almost 17% of them evaluate career opportunities by good work-life balance. Long hours of travel and manual labor offered by the construction industry doesn’t inherently offer this balance, but millennials are prone to take more personal days for their mental and physical wellbeing to ensure they’re giving their all when they come to work.
Taking more time to recover, millennial construction workers are able to work longer and harder compared to previous generations that would rather show up with half effort than be realistic about their needs.
Millennials take things personally, in a good way. They are team players that have a deep investment in their coworkers and the way their companies do business. They are a generation of participants raised in a socially aware climate who know how to negotiate and talk through issues with others.
With more collaborative design-build technology and processes in the construction industry, millennials are the employees more prone to active engagement.
4. Digitally Native
It’s no secret that a majority of millennials were born with technology in their hands. They’re accustomed to rapid technological changes that can scare off their predecessors.
As the construction industry continues to introduce new tech including virtual reality, machine learning, and connected job sites, millennials will be among the early adopters and may teach their employers a thing or two.
The so-called “Job-Hopping Generation” really doesn’t want to job hop. But their loyalty has conditions. Almost 90% of millennials surveyed for a CNBC-exclusive study by Qualtrics, responded they would stay in a job for 10 years if they knew they were guaranteed annual raises and upward career mobility.
Of course, that’s not possible for all businesses and there are other ways to retain millennials. In the construction industry, where the workforce is retiring (not hiring) in droves, it’s time for employers to wise up.