The Millennial Construction Generation
A recent survey reported that the millennial men in America desire a surprising change in lifestyle, or notably a balanced lifestyle. We Baby Boomers also want the same thing. The difference is that these young men want to help with child care, housework and have their wives succeed equally in their careers. This is pretty foreign to us Boomers and while we have been shifting in that direction, this would be the final step. While the old school traditional roles of men going off to work while women stay home has been dead for some time, this new trend is still a bit foreign to some. These changes are inevitable. This survey points out that the millennial mindset is very different from that of the Baby Boomers.
The millennial generation is defined as the group of people basically from 10 to 30 years of age. Before you dismiss them, take note that this generation is estimated to be at 80 million strong. This is relevant because it is a large generation segment, so it may be wise to heed a little attention to them. The other fact is they are on the cusp of becoming the largest generational group in the American workforce. Some even say that day has already arrived—and they want change.
There is probably no industry more challenged and resistant to change than the world of construction. The wall and ceiling subcontractor may even be the most resistant of all. We are still dominated with traditions that are hard to break. Other industries are breaking traditions left and right, such as Google, Boston Consulting Group and Quicken Loans. Construction tends to stay the course. Even the labor union side of construction, staring at massive market share losses, are resistant to any real shake up. Change for us seems to be at a glacial pace and generally only made in desperation. We talk change, because it makes us appear relevant, but as the New York study concludes, 53 percent of Americans tend to revert to back to their old ways. I suspect the construction industry percentage is even higher.
A Change Would Do You Good
What would happen if a construction company made a significant culture shift to meet the desires of the young millennials? Would it shake the industry to the core and instill change or would it destroy us? Ironically, there are a few construction firms that have made strides to reach out to the millennials. David Weekly Homes is a Houston-based homebuilder with more than 1,000 employees and recently ranked as a top place for millennials to work. These young people report they love the culture of the company and the firm is growing. Reports state the CEO cares for the community, believes in real mentorship and in giving back. He allows flexibility in the work place and this in turn encourages new innovative ideas from all the staff. This has translated to 33 percent of his young workforce to be dedicated to the company beyond a simple paycheck every week. This is powerful stuff.
DPR Construction is a general contractor based in Redwood City, Calif. Its motto is “empower the employees.” The reviews from the millennials appear overwhelmingly positive about DPR. A recent survey of the workers gave the company a 4.5 out of 5 possible star rating. They obviously practice what they preach and the results are pretty evident as the survey was anonymous.
A significant change in wall and ceiling contracting would be more challenging as project schedules are set by others. While the challenge for the wall and ceiling contractor is obvious, so is the growing number of millennials they employ. This means change will come eventually. Someone will devise a clever work plan that incorporates that millennial desire for the balance of productivity, work schedules and allows them personal growth. If you just scoffed at this, you are definitely a Baby Boomer. It will be interesting to see what will happen. Will the progressive wall and ceiling contractor thrive and take significant market share or will they fail miserably?
Trying to envision this new way of working is challenging. I suspect this means the days of the smoke-filled rooms with secret deals, liquid lunches or closing deals on the 19th hole are quickly coming to an end. While this frightens many of us, the possibilities are intriguing. Someone will step up and change will happen. If not, the millennials will see to it when they assume control.