Managing Millennials

Stuart Rogers
The organisations that embrace the millennial generation will be the market leaders of the future.

‘Don’t Manage Millennials, Inspire Them’

The above statement has been used a lot recently, across all industries, and specifically in property and construction, but is this true?

A millennial (Generation Y) is a widely recognised term used to describe a child born from the early 80’s to the mid 00’s, it is the generation that followed Generation X (60’s–70’s).

The last recession in 2007/8 left a major skills shortage in our sector, with many professionals leaving the industry and not returning, and graduates not joining the industry due to lack of available jobs. The issue is epidemic to the construction industry, and the gap that was left in the market has caused a very competitive recruitment market meaning companies now must effectively differentiate themselves to attract the best talent.

I believe it is now time to decide the future of the industry and it is the millennials that will lead the charge.

The organisations that embrace the required change will be the ones that thrive, and survive, through the next recession. The issue is widespread across the industry and there is a need for all organisations to work together to attract talent to construction. The question we need to ask ourselves is, are we willing to invest in the future of the industry? To see beyond our own balance sheet, for the greater good?

There is a common view, that in the workplace, millennials require:

  1. The latest technology
  2. An understanding of the vision to which they are working
  3. A sense of purpose/belonging
  4. Flexibility in the workplace
  5. A clear structure for progression in the workplace

I see this as a miss-conception. In a world of fast fashion, Amazon 1-day deliveries, groceries delivered to your door, 24-hour access and internet access to everything at anytime, anywhere in the world, it is not just the millennial generation who desire these things, it is the whole nation. All five of the above points are key to the progression and the future success of the construction industry and all organisations, collaboratively, should be developing a strategy for each.

It is widely recognised that the future of the construction industry is more collaboration, but the theory of forced collaboration has now been around for 20 years since Egan and Latham, and we have still not evolved enough, to meet with the mindset of the millennial generation. My experience and understanding of the millennial generation is that they are inclusive, collaborative, diverse, embracing of technology and progressive.

Slowly, small pockets of the industry have turned to off-site manufacture, BIM, virtual reality, etc. but there is still a lack of science, process and manufacture in many areas of the industry all the way through the supply chain. The efficiencies and health and safety gains to be made shouldn’t be ignored. The millennial generation is the generation of employees that will be best equipped to bridge the gap between traditional construction and modern techniques, bringing the most efficient and innovative ideas to the industry, and perhaps pushing the whole industry towards more of a manufacturing/automated process.

The organisations that embrace the millennial generation will be the market leaders of the future.

To embrace the millennial generation is not necessarily to allow an employee to sit behind their desk with their headphones in all day, or provide trendy workplace spaces, etc. It is to actively engage and provide an environment for innovation and collaboration that drives value in to our industry.

Building a team of high performing individuals, not only requires talented and motivated professional individuals, it also requires a clear defined structure and common vision, to create a collaborative environment, where each member will work their hardest for their colleagues for the good of the team. At Faithful+Gould this is an attitude that we embrace, trust and encourage, and which will allow us to thrive over the coming years.

If we do things the way we always have, we will get the same results. For the construction industry, this is not sustainable.

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