The Benefits of having 4 Generations on the Construction Site
Diversity in the workplace is paramount to business success. For the first time in history we are seeing 4 generations (in some cases 5) in the workplace at the same time. Each generation with its own set of expectations, values and priorities.
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It is important to note that every worker, regardless of age has something important to bring to the table and that often these generalisations are not true to their stereotypes. A baby boomer might have the same level of technical skills as a millennial and likewise a millennial could easily have the same work ethic associated with the baby boomer generation. Each worker leaves his or her own footprint on a construction site, but it is important to understand the circumstances, values and influences on each generation that can influence their skillsets and communicative needs.
The 4 Generations
Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964 generally find themselves in managerial positions and in charge of projects. Their traits have stereotypically been a strong style of leadership and they like to drive workflow. They tend to have strong work ethic and tend to commit to additional work hours. The traits associated with this generation can work well in positions such as construction inspectors and safety officers.
Generation X, born between 1965 and 1976, many who now find themselves in mid-management construction positions also tend to find themselves comfortable in a position where whey are monitoring the work flow of others. Although this generation did not grow up with the same level of technological advances as millennials, they did grow up with some and they tend to work as an excellent bridge between the technological workflow of millennials and baby boomers.
Millennials, born between 1977 and 1995 are strongly tech orientated. Having grown up with the expectation of flexibility in the workplace as well as features such as remote working, they rely heavily on mobile technology to communicate and tend to place a stronger emphasis on the importance of sustainability and renewable energy on the construction site.
Generation Z, born after 1995 are the generation that are newest to the workforce. They bring with them a cohort of technological advances and are very tech orientated in all aspects of their lives. They are influenced heavily by the freelance economy and tend to have an entrepreneurial string to their bows. They strive with their ability to multi task effectively between projects due to the influence of the gig economy.
- Reverse Mentoring
It is often the case that we allow older generations to train in younger generations into a role. It is important to create a culture of learning from all generations to and from one another. Allow the younger employees to train the older employees and vice versa.
Embrace different methods of communication in your workforce. For some the preference is face to face whereas younger generations tend to go straight for sending a message. Don’t rely solely on one form of communication and encourage all employees to participate in all forms of communication.
Prepare future leaders. Work with employees with leadership potential through mentoring, additional career development or education and ensure they can see a viable career path within your organisation. Have discussions with employees of all age brackets and career levels to determine how best leadership should look going forward. Take the best bits from all angles to ensure you have the best possible foot put forward for the future of the industry.
- Digital Transformation
Tradition and experience can often influence our ability to accept or integrate change into our lives. A culture of learning in the construction industry that is suited to all needs can provide the culture and platform to allow everyone to integrate technology into their working day. It has the benefit of helping with a range of tasks and the possibilities of what technology can do is always adapting and changing, meaning all employees need to adapt and learn regularly.
- Focus on Results
Set working hours are slowly becoming a thing of the past. By focusing on results, you can allow employees flexibility (of course within reason and in accordance with company guidelines). Flexibility in working hours as well as toward adjusting to change is vital for business success.
The key aspect of having a successful and diverse construction site is communication. Communicate with all employees and discuss their needs, wants, areas of improvement, skills and give them the ability to grow and learn in all aspects of the business.