A How-To Guide for Recruiting Millennials to Construction

Construction companies are more than builders; they are developers of people. They should keep evolving their recruiting approach, so as the industry continues to change they are prepared.
By Darren Bounds
July 5, 2019

Millennials are slowly taking over the workforce as baby boomers are exiting. By 2024, it is projected that three in four U.S. workers will be millennials. This is particularly impacting the construction industry, with more than 40% of the current construction workforce likely to be retired by 2031. This change is creating a labor gap that must be filled, but the problem is attracting millennial workers to the industry.

The rising workforce is quite different in comparison to its predecessor. The priorities have shifted. Millennials are after benefits and perks rather than pay, so much so that more than 80% of millennials would change jobs to obtain better benefits, and nearly 90% would pass up a pay raise in favor of benefits and perks.

Millennials will require a different approach to recruit, but it isn’t impossible. Below are a few steps contractors can take to attract them to their teams.

Learn your audience

Not only are millennials on the rise, but minorities are too. Statistics show that more than half the millennial population can be classified as a minority. This directly impacts what they care about (i.e., where a company stands on various social issues).

For example, last year work on New York’s largest construction project was brought to a standstill by a protest. To prevent situations like this from arising, consider a few questions:

  1. What does the mission statement mean? Does it just exist for decoration, or does it have a real purpose?
  2. How do real-life working practices and expectations reflect values?
  3. How do hiring practices reflect values?

Build diversity and inclusion

The construction industry has not always been known for diversity. Statistics show that just more than 9% of the workforce is female. It might seem like an uphill battle to improve diversity and inclusion, but it is possible by focusing on a few things.

  1. Look at the language used in job advertisements and ensure it is inclusive.
  2. Show excitement for diversity and inclusion through the EEO/Fair Hiring statement.
  3. Measure inclusion through employee surveys to see how the company is actually doing.

There are examples out there of the benefits of committing to diversity and inclusion in hiring. For example, one contractor currently has a staff of 30% women. It has seen the benefit of bringing diversity to the team through the different ideas brought to the table. Adding females to the executive board can increase profitability by 15%.

Focus on the benefits and perks

Millennials are constantly sharing the next best thing, including the perks their job gives them. If contractors can be the company to offer the benefits and perks millennials brag to their friends about, it will help tremendously in recruiting and retaining future workers. Finding a work/life balance is imperative to millennial construction workers, especially in light of the long hours and risk involved with the work.

Flexibility is one perk workers are looking for in a company. More and more millennials are now entering parenthood, and therefore figuring out a schedule that works for their family is becoming more difficult. They want flexible hours and benefits. Consider the different areas where flexibility can be built in.

An example to consider is Shawmut Design and Construction. They offer a paid leave program, giving a paid month off to employees when they adopt or have a child or need to look after a sick family member. A few other perks to consider are career development opportunities, health insurance and a technology-driven work environment.

This might seem like a lot of change, but in the long run, it will pay off. Start by embracing the reality that construction companies are more than builders, they are developers of people. Keep evolving the approach, so the company is prepared as the industry continues to change.

by Darren Bounds
Darren Bounds is the CEO and Founder of Breezy HR, the applicant tracking system that keeps hiring human. As a passionate, design-minded technologist and serial entrepreneur, Darren has over a decade's experience building HR tech that puts people first. Darren is also the former VP of Technology at Taleo, the world's largest provider of HR software solutions. Darren believes great design can save the world and that HR should be human.

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