The gap between Generation X and Millennial workers seems like more than 20 years long - especially when it comes to work ethic and corporate culture. In the construction industry, like many others, Generational X workers are known for their institutional knowledge acquired over years, while Millennials are characterized by their need for work/life balance and instant gratification.

Now that Millennials (ages 17 – 35) make up the largest share of the U.S. workforce - or more than one-in-three American workers - surpassing Generation Xers (ages 36- 56),1 construction firms are grappling with how to build the skills of millennial workers and retain them while keeping them engaged throughout their career.

A 3-Step Solution

While it goes without saying that finding the right employee for the right job delivers the most desirable returns, construction companies may still find themselves in need of actively nurturing their millennial workers into the job. Use these three steps to create your ideal workforce.

  1. Mentoring. Millennials may be seekers of instant gratification, but they also seek tried and true industry expertise and knowledge. A mentorship program will foster a relationship across generations and strengthen the overall organization’s ability to be productive. Mentorship programs can: pass down institutional knowledge from an older, experienced employee; shower the younger employee with more one-on-one attention; and provide an opportunity for younger employees to elevate their education with new or different methods. Like any other mentorship program, employers should consider personality as well as strengths and weaknesses when creating partnerships. 
  2. Safety Training and Data Analytics. Studies show an inverse relationship between tenure and injury frequency, meaning employers need to address both the age of the workforce and data analytics simultaneously to improve workplace safety management and employee onboarding. This is especially true when multiple generations comprise a workforce, as age and job tasks both affect the type of training necessary and the way messages are perceived.
  3. Absence Policies and Procedures. When employees are absent from work, the two greatest risks are disengagement of the absent employee and disengagement of employees still at work. Misaligned policies and procedures will increase the likelihood of lengthier employee absences, and dissention among those who come to work every day. Review return to work (RTW) policies  to create consistency and pursue compliance. For example, consider how disparate RTW practices create disengagement among employees who experience a work-related injury versus a personal injury. 

Supporting all Workers

Regardless of where your employees are in their careers, supporting them when they need it is a must. With proper mentorship, ongoing training, data analytics and aligning policies and procedures your employees of all ages can achieve their career goals. Contact your HUB risk management team for more information on how you can elevate your millennial employees. 



[1] Pew Research Center. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/