Millennials are flooding the workforce and will continue to do so over the next two decades, and the damage prevention industry is no exception. The recession of the last decade saw many Gen-Xers leave the construction industry and now that the industry is recovering, a labor shortage is a real concern. That, coupled with Baby Boomers retiring, has opened the door for Millennials.
By 2040, Millennials will outnumber boomers by 22 million and leveraging the skills, curiosity and energy they bring will help us advance the mission of our industry.
Millennials need to feel challenged. They are comfortable with speed, customization and interactivity. They want to network and use technology to further the business. It is important for Millennials to attach meaning and passion to the work that they do. They are driven to feel their work has a purpose.
At this point, anyone responsible for hiring has read multiple articles talking about what Millennials are looking for in a job and what to offer to attract them. These suggestions range from flexible work hours to real-time feedback instead of quarterly or annual reviews to collaborative and team-based work environments.
So, how do we offer Millennials what they are looking for and benefit from the fresh thinking and new perspectives they bring to their work? What can we in the damage prevention industry offer that will appeal to this upcoming workforce?
• Mentor new hires internally. Allow them to follow senior executives for a short period of time to get a sense of what your business is all about and to find out what they really like to do. Allow them to see how what you do on a daily basis impacts the health and safety of the general public.
• Mentor your team externally. Create programs that allow Millennials to participate in industry events to develop their knowledge and increase their professional opportunities.
• Encourage networking opportunities. Allow them to participate in industry associations where they can network with their peers and engage in promoting the shared responsibility of damage prevention.
• Reinforce the social impact. Millennials as a generation are strongly focused on the social impact of their company and their peers. Working in an industry like ours that protects the buried infrastructure, protects our environment and saves lives is a strong draw for these socially informed individuals.
Millennials don’t just want to earn a paycheck; they want to invest their time to grow personally and professionally. This is a definite shift from traditional on-the-job training. The best opportunity you can offer to Millennials in our industry is a rich learning experience that taps into employee interests, passions and career goals.