This post was originally printed in the March 2015 issue of Construction Executive.
It’s no secret that companies are facing generational gaps within their workforce, inside and outside of the construction industry. It is important to understand this challenge and promote ways for young professionals to continue developing into high-performing employees and leaders. Retaining the younger generation entering the workforce can be done effectively and without making a large financial investment.
1. ENCOURAGE INVOLVEMENT
Most young professionals crave a social life and continue to network with peers after hours during the week. Encourage and show support for young professionals who want to get involved with industry organizations that provide valuable opportunities to build relationships with other leading professionals. Young professionals starting out are more likely than other colleagues to have the time to continue promoting the firm after hours.
By approving participation in after-hours organizations, events and industry boards, the company shows it has confidence in the next generation’s ability to represent the firm outside of the office setting.
2. GENERATE DIALOGUE
Young professionals have grown up surrounded by near-constant communication and social media. Most are more comfortable speaking than writing. Have open dialogue on a regular basis and take an interest in their daily activities outside of the workplace. In addition, let them know company management is looking out for their career path.
Young professionals can feel strapped to their office chair at times, so allocating time for activities such as monthly lunches or site visits gives them the opportunity for learning experiences and effective communication periods outside of the typical office setting. This can present a more relaxed environment, and younger employees usually respond positively to this open approach.
3. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY
Young professionals may feel handicapped without the latest and greatest gadgets. Outfitting younger employees with the most current technology resources can pay major dividends in the long run. They are eager to spend time learning new programs, find the right ways to implement them within their respective firms and teach the tools to colleagues for the betterment of the company as a whole.
These technology resources also allow the younger generation to stay connected after a typical workday has concluded. Having documents available on their phones, tablets and laptops can lead to faster collaboration, responses and completion efforts. The resources also allow employees to stay productive in more flexible work environments, such as touchdown spaces, on the road or working from home.
4. OFFER FEEDBACK
Showing younger employees the 30,000-foot view goes a long way. Young professionals today are not interested in being another statistic within the industry; most are trying to find any opportunity to become a leading professional, with continuous growth and advancement.
Communicating effectively about how younger employees fit into the company’s current and long-range plan could contribute significantly to overall productivity. In addition, providing constructive criticism and career advice will hit home.
5. BE A COACH AND MENTOR
Young professionals are still learning to keep up with a fast-paced work lifestyle on a daily basis. Putting them in positions to succeed early on provides the confidence to feel they are making an impact. Leaders should share interesting books, recent white papers or case studies that are being passed around the office to encourage young professionals to feel connected and help reaffirm that their goals, principles and objectives align with their executives and the firm.
Instilling best practices for time management, productivity and relationship-building are keys to mentoring young employees. Contrary to the common perception, not all young professionals think they “know it all,” and most are very eager to listen and absorb as much information as possible from their mentors.
ABC Young Professionals
One way to prepare the next generation of construction leaders is to get them involved in the ABC National Young Professionals Program
. Through the program, young leaders can collaborate with and learn from their peers and industry executives and boost their leadership skills through peer groups, networking opportunities and discounts to ABC National conferences.
The program is open to employees who work for an ABC member company and are under the age of 40. Visit youngprofessionals.abc.org/join and register for the program by paying the $50 annual fee.