Managing Workers
Managing Workers

Managing 5 Workforce Generations at Construction Site


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Indeed, it is a challenging time in the construction industry. Companies are having a difficult time finding workers to fill in the vacant positions while construction business owners also need to find ways to keep the excellent workers they have. They have set higher metrics and goals concerning diversity. It only means one thing – they are accepting and encouraging more diverse workers and candidates than ever.

It might not be an issue now that the industry was comprised of Baby Boomers and Traditionalists, but the new generation of workers is found to be more a bit challenging to retain. Thus, keeping the balance between the oldest and youngest generation can also be struggling. 

We will discuss the five different generations for today’s blog and outline a few practical strategies to manage them in the industry effectively.

Who are the 5 Workforce Generations?

The range for birth dates differs for each generation and from the source. Nevertheless, we can still correctly identify these five workforce generations in the construction workplace. Every worker leaves his footprint onsite and can stand separately from the individualities of any group. It is vital to understand the situations, values and attitudes that influence each generation and skillsets. Below are the 5 workforce generations that are working side by side in the industry.

1. Traditionalist

These are the individuals born and raised in 1927-1945 where there was a Great Depression. In the span of their careers, they have been working only for one to two employers. With that being said, they are known for being resourceful using only minimal and conventional tools. They are slower compared to other generations in adapting new tactics and the latest construction technologies like builder trends software.

2. Baby Boomers 

These folks are born in 1946-1964 and are now placed in managerial positions supervising many construction projects. These workers often prefer to impose their leadership traits and prefer to drive the workflow. They like to work in extended hours and are very committed to their responsibilities. Construction policy enforcers are where they fit very well, such as skilled crew leaders, projects managers and construction inspectors.

3. Generation X

These employees are born between 1965 and 1976 and now in several mid-management positions in the construction workplace. They equally find themselves contented in managing and mentoring co-workers. This generation grew up with a few technological developments. Hence, they adapt and work so well using computers and other digital and powered tools like PDFs. They are flexible and tech-savvy at the same time.

4. Millennials (Generation Y)

This generation is born between 1977 and 1995. Growing up in a workplace with remote employment and flexible schedules has made them different. They often rely on mobile technology like cloud services and instant messaging to communicate. Indeed, millennials are very tech-oriented. Additionally, they are often have growing interests in sustainable strategies like reclaimed products, renewable energy and recycling.

5. Generation Z

This generation is referred to as the Centennials (born in 1996 or later). The employees born in these years heavily depend on technology and are always updated on any latest trends. One fantastic technology in the software market is the crew schedule software. These employees are proven to be very entrepreneurial now that they are getting involved in a workforce that has been continuously influenced by several freelance economy projects. Furthermore, this generation is also capable of multitasking different sets of tasks.

Mobilize the Five-Generation Workforce

The arrival of the 5 different generation workforces has required new approaches and strategies for employee management.

1. Create an inclusive culture

Creating a dynamic and inclusive culture is one effective way to unlock the potential of your 5-generation workforce. The top management has to make sure also that their behaviours and plans will not affect negatively. Make sure to find ways that help you develop reward programs and policies in the workplace. In this way, fostering a positive attitude among involved employees is more effortless.

2. Go beyond stereotypes

Baby Boomers prefer structured career paths most of the time. For millennials, they prefer flexible opportunities. However, for construction companies and their respective management, they don’t need to rely on stereotypes. The only easy way to find out what the workforce wanted and expected is to ask them directly. It is always good to run a systematic employee engagement survey to understand what the employees think about the company clearly.

3. Celebrate differences and find similarities

The collision of soaring living costs and stagnant wage growth has toppled the belief that every generation must have better opportunities than the first one that came before. Because of this collision, tensions have started to rise. Construction companies have to look for ways to strengthen multi-generational relationships. Using a construction scheduling software will strengthen the relationship, improves team collaboration and work productivity.

4. Watch out for age discrimination

With 5 generations involved now in the construction environment, the possibility of age discrimination has been increasing. In order to protect the company, make sure that procedures, policies and practices will not practice favoritism in any of the generations. Avoid alienating others particularly the traditionalists and baby boomers.

More Effective Tips to Manage Different Workforce Generations

1. Allow Traditionalists talk about their overall experiences, particularly how they started to learn different things at work. Crew assignments and office spaces must be balanced with a mix for all involved generations.

2. Ensure to execute reverse monitoring where younger employees will have the opportunity to train the older generations. Reverse the process once again for the Traditionalists.

3. Embrace a variety of communication methods. Avoid relying on emails and text messages.

4. Try new strategies and let older generations begin in utilizing technologies more and more. However, make sure also to provide training but different from the pace of Millennials.

5. Avoid focusing on the hours but rather focus more on the results. Scheduled working hours like 7-4 or 8-5 are work practices from the past. It is much better to let your workers setting up their own schedules and work at a flexible time.

6. Start building a reward program wherein there are many given options to satisfy these 5 generations.

7. Construction technologies are designed to improve work productivity and to increase safety as well. One of the best construction technologies in the market today is the builder software. Most project leaders are recommending this advanced software tool.

8. The roles and expectations for leadership should be clearly defined. Hence, set some goals and dates for the sake of all generations to follow. Using more systems and automated tools could mean the lesser physical effort is exerted.

Highly-Recommended Job Assignments for Every Generation

A study shows that workers with young median ages tend to occupy trades like plumbers and roofers while older median ages fill in supervisory and managerial positions. There might not be written rule for everybody involved, yet specific tasks could suit one’s skillsets and work ethics. In construction, traditionalists are employed as supervisors, inspectors and project managers. In contrast, most Baby Boomers are working as equipment operators. The same way that goes on for other generations where there are consistent differences.

Working with multiple generations is really a challenging task. That is why, it is crucial to determine the values and characteristics of each generation. Once the skills of all workers are finally determined, discussing things that motivate them becomes easier. Company owners have to remember that each generation has specific interests, circumstances and goals. A major aspect of the communication process is to be patient and understanding.

Listed below are possible assignments assigned for each generation.

·       Traditionalists – proven to have a great work ethic, which means they can take leadership, whether for construction policy enforcement or job incident investigations.

·        Baby Boomers – these employees are great trainers and have an outstanding ability to coach young workers. Like Traditionalists, they are also influential policymakers. Additionally, they can implement and write winning proposals as well.

·        Generation X – these employees are effective leaders and are excellent on individual tasks. Two key areas for Generation X employees in terms of working complex projects are teamwork and working collaboratively. Real-time collaboration and constant communication are best achieved using construction management software.

·        Millennials – They will excel in any adapted and emerging technologies. It is essential to let them engage and challenge in large-scale projects. These employees are ideal for augmented reality, BIM, and modular construction.

·        Generation Z – The multitasking skills they acquired from working in freelancing have made them ideal candidates for general labor projects and apprenticeships. Their technology and savviness will make them handy as laborers in the workplace.

Key Takeaways

Focus on every worker’s capability in contributing instead of what might goes wrong along the way. Each of the generations has the power to influence each other positively. It is vital for construction business owners to determine every work group’s attitudes and values to break down the stereotypes. Establish partnerships and always make sure that all groups acknowledge the impact they have on one another.

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