Millennials can be the catalyst for change in construction if you let them!

millennials in construction
Future of construction

Let me start off this post by letting you know that I am a millennial.  I know I am not the easiest person to work with, in fact, I can be challenging to some of my colleagues.  The thing is, I don’t accept the status quo and I will always strive to do better. I challenge the old way of working if I believe that there is a smarter way of doing things and increasing efficiencies.

Some call our generation lazy as we are reluctant to do the same things over and over again, but if it can be done smarter, then why shouldn’t we.  We are impatience and we want to have purpose and impact in an organisation. So as you can imagine, management can find millennials very demanding and can find it difficult to engage them in the right way to bring out their potential.

When all that is said and done, this story is only centred around how and why I believe millennials will be the catalyst for change in our industry (and yes there are plenty of others who want to change the current way of working besides millennials).

Millennials are committed, especially if they are being heard and form part of the making decision process, as they want to move up in the organization. But they are not blindly loyal and won’t stay at all cost.  The older generation values job security much more than millennials. Millennials look at how a company can add value to their skillset and how they can improve within the organisation. If they cannot see a future within their reach, then in many cases this can trigger a change in the workplace.  Therefore it is of the utmost importance to have a strong culture, to support their agility, and an ability to understand their key drivers to continue to engage and retain them.

Read also: Construction needs to become data-driven for future success

In general, millennials care more about the people than the numbers. If we educate and help the people we work with, they will grow and feel valuable, so they will go the extra mile for their employers.  Take the time to listen to millennials’ ideas. They don’t have 40 years of experience in the bank, they haven’t nailed down how to work in the same way as their more experienced counterparts, they may think or look at things in a different way. You may be surprised by the innovative ideas they come up with.

Many companies in our industry have outdated norms and methods of working because they have been in the industry for many years so they are still tailored to older generations and the old way of working.  We should embrace failure as long as we learn from it, and take into consideration how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Mistakes should be approached as opportunities for learning and improvement.

Employees should feel that management won’t turn its back on them the second something goes wrong. When people feel understood and part of something bigger than themselves, they will go to greater lengths to excel in their work.

This mentorship dynamic builds far more trust and loyalty than a raise or bonus ever could, as it cultivates a mutual respect instead of a transaction. Knowing that management has their back is priceless and will benefit both parties in the long run.

millennials in construction

When it comes to the Millennial workforce, focus on the results and not the method in which they are achieved. In the end, the companies who stay up-to-date with the needs and desires of their workforce will be those who make the most profit and have a societal impact.

One of the best things about the way millennials approach work is that they are open to new ways of doing things.  This generation is full of curiosity and initiative, and millennials are willing to stray from traditional ways of doing things especially if it means finding a more efficient way to work. There is an app for everything and information is only a Google search away.

Millennials are comfortable with using technology and use it in every way they can in their everyday activities. Millennials love technology at work, as it saves time and gives the option to optimise processes.

So my best advice is:

  • Let millennials use their preferred technology to support their work.
  • Make them engagers of digitalization on the projects. Millennials love responsibility and remember to support their failures to make them better.
  • The one-size fits all approach in management will not work with millennials.
  • The company should be tasked on managing engagement on a macro scale.

Millennials might be the biggest catalyst for change in our industry as they just happen to be at the right place at the right time.  Digital tools in the industry are now matured and suitable for rolling out on a larger scale, but everything should be born from proof of concept projects.

Millennials are willing to try and test it without compromising efficiency.

There is a “perfect storm” happening right now.  The trends in digitisation are converging in a way that will generate a revolution in business, affecting organizations of all shapes and sizes.  Management has been stuck in a rut for several decades in our industry, which is easy to see on the productivity curves and profit that are being generated in our industry. We have been running organizations like machines and have lost the agility to change rapidly.  This is now a cultural aspect in the organisations and we have kind of forgotten to shift to the needs of customers and employees.

Everyone in the current state is in a dangerous position, if you do not develop and invest, you will eventually go out of business due to the speed of digitalization and transformation we are seeing currently.

As Millennials ascend into management positions over the next several years, they will simultaneously become the largest generation in the workforce.  Change is coming, and smart organizations will start making the necessary adjustments today to stay ahead. So as an organisation to support the transformation you should take this into consideration

Go Digital

Improve all the organizational facets that can create value to digitalize, gather and share information and knowledge.  The Millennial era has an unrelenting and disciplined focus on the customer or end user, including the employee. Millennials are the first generation to have only known a digital workplace, so they are used to leveraging that power on an individual basis. This will continuously unlock new value in areas like internal and external collaboration to improve efficiency, work-life balance, reducing stress and going from knowledge workers to company knowledge.

millennials in construction

Transparency

Transparency is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving inside organizations. Millennials have always had access to more information than they could possibly handle.  They are confused by organizations that control it tightly. Transparent organizations make smarter decisions that generate better results. They will successfully build a transparent architecture that makes more information visible to more people, to enable better decisions.

Fast pace

Fast pace is about taking action at the precise moment when action is needed. Fast in the Millennial era is about systems that can learn and adapt while still maintaining the efficiency and productivity of the previous era. Testing new tools, apps etc. has become normal for millennials. We may call the Millennials “entitled” for wanting things immediately or expecting more authority, but remember: That’s all they’ve ever known. Fast organizations leap ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk. They go beyond efficiency and productivity to find the key variables that unlock true speed.

In the end, it will always be the C-level calling the shots to lead the companies in the right direction. So if you want to become more agile and keep ahead of the curve, it is never about the future, it’s about what you do every day to support the culture you want!  Get a clear understanding of what drives the success of the company and what creates true value for your business, not only with regard to revenue, but also consider how to attract the right customers and support their needs. In the future everything will be centred around the value we provide for our customers and the only one to fulfill their needs are our employees, so make sure that you stand out as the company everybody wants to join!

Give them the ability to be shine and develop your organisation!

About the author: Nicholas Klokholm is Director of Channel – Volume Builders at GenieBelt.

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