Why Millennials Are Great for Engineering and Construction [Excerpt]

Source: FMI Corporation

Now more than ever, the next generation of workforce sets the tone for how industry will be in the future. The better we understand them now, the better we can plan for that future, and involve them in building it.


For the first time, millennials (individuals born between 1980 and 2000) are the majority in the workforce. This is a significant shift for companies that now have to figure out how to most effectively attract, recruit and retain these younger workers—not all of whom are following in their parents’ footsteps when it comes to job selection, company loyalty and opportunity.

Much has been written about the millennials and how they differ from previous generations in their approach to work—and careers in general. Indeed, millennials are often unfairly saddled with the dubious reputation for being entitled, disloyal, self-centered or optimistic go-getters, but it turns out that they’re actually not that different from their older work colleagues.

In a recent study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value, the authors stated that the differences among millennials, Gen X and baby-boomer employees have been grossly exaggerated. According to the survey findings, baby boomers, Gen Xers and millennials share similar values, aspirations, attitudes and goals when it comes to work. The survey also found that some of the more common assumptions regarding millennials could actually be incorrect.

To measure its level of engagement and to explore what this generation of workers is looking for in an employer, FMI recently surveyed a total of 227 construction employees in Canada (127 of whom were millennials). Many of the survey results dispel widespread millennial stigmas, including:

  • 58% of millennial survey respondents expect to remain more than five years with their current employers.
  • 60% of millennial survey respondents strongly agree that they are willing to work beyond what is required of them to help the business succeed (versus 53% of non-millennial workers).
  • 57% of millennial survey respondents strongly agree that it was important for them to understand their career path and opportunities within their company.

Millennials are truly great for the engineering and construction industry for many reasons. Let's start with #1....


Loyalty and dedication.
The majority of FMI’s survey participants want to stay more than five years with their company, as opposed to jumping ship in the near term. Given good opportunities for career advancement, support for education, a collaborative culture, and competitive pay and benefits, this group of workers will go above and beyond to drive organizational success.

Innovative thinking.
In an industry that is changing dramatically through emerging technologies and new delivery systems, millennials welcome the opportunity to provide input and new ideas that promote corporate innovation. As one survey participant stated, “I’m free to be creative and try new things.” Progressive companies like DPR Construction, for example, encourage employees to use a special website to submit ideas for improvements, which can be related to software, tools or company protocols, among other things.

Tech savvy with a personal touch.
It is true that many millennials adopt new technologies and gravitate toward digital media more easily than their older colleagues would. However, when it comes to learning new skills at work and receiving feedback, research shows that millennials prioritize face-to-face contact over digital options. This mix of tech savvy, combined with a need for personal interaction, can help companies drive change across multiple generations while infusing the industry with a fresh new perspective. Overall, 40% of workers prefer getting feedback on an as-needed basis, 34% like to receive it monthly, and 16% enjoy weekly feedback on their performance and progress.

They strive for a healthy work-life balance.
When it comes to choosing where to work, millennials look at competitive pay. Given the challenging work conditions and often very long work hours, work-life balance is also very important but can be difficult to attain in the construction industry. However, if employers want to recruit and retain star talent, they will need to reconsider some of their traditional corporate policies and practices and find new ways to create a healthy work-life blend for their employees. For example, offering a paid sabbatical can help give employees a break and a fresh outlook without losing them for good. This will not only help workers across multiple generations but will also improve the negative image that the industry has suffered for decades.

Collaboration and communication.
According to Chuck Underwood, a pioneering and longtime authority on generations, many millennials grew up with parents, teachers and counselors who were their best friends and role models. “They need not only a mentor, but also a buddy. They are excellent team players. They will care about the entire organization, not just their own jobs,” stated Underwood. Indeed, the timing is perfect. New virtual design and construction tools and integrated project delivery methods will all require higher levels of collaboration within and among project teams. Having these young people focused on a common purpose, effective processes, excellent communication and solid relationships will help transform the industry over time.

Continue reading on FMI Corporation's website: https://www.fminet.com/fmi-quarterly/article/2018/06/why-millennials-are-great-for-engineering-and-construction/

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