What To Consider As You Recruit New Talent

Contributed by: Nancy Nehlsen, Nehlsen Communications President

Many trade associations and unions have asked Nehlsen Communications to help them recruit workers — both apprentices and management trainees — and with good reason. Baby boomers are retiring at a rate of approximately 10,000 per day. There are 79.8 million millennials in the U.S. today, making this group the largest living generation in the country. Following closely behind are those in Gen Z.

Clearly, there is an urgent need to attract workers from the two “younger” generations — and quickly. Most managers cringe at the thought of hiring from these groups that baby boomers perceive as entitled, coddled and uncommunicative. They had helicopter parents, received a trophy even if they couldn’t throw the ball or score the goal. They were taught that every project they undertook was collaborative, and they don’t answer phone calls because texting is their preferred mode of communication.

Like it or not, millennials are the future leaders of the construction industry, and we need to figure out how to make them into the same valuable employees as those hard-working, dedicated baby boomers (spoken like a true boomer).

Before Nehlsen Communications began creating the foundation for millennial and Gen Z recruitment campaigns, we participated in focus groups with participants from the two groups. What we found is that they are not the spoiled, entitled kids who don’t care about their jobs like we baby boomers did. We discovered that they are actually very nice people, and they are excited about finding just the right career that they can throw themselves into and be a part of — heart and soul.

Some of the biggest differences between baby boomers and millennials are that millennials want to make a difference by giving back through their jobs, whereas baby boomers separated the two. Work was work, and volunteering was done through the church or community organization for boomers. “Making a Difference” was an oft-repeated phrase that millennials listed as “very important in their careers.” They said they want to work as part of a cohesive group, and want the satisfaction of creating something that will last. They value mentorship and want plenty of room for growth. They also value work-life balance. And, of course, they want to work with technology.

So, what does that mean to you as you consider recruiting new talent to your company? If you want to attract the best and brightest of this intelligent, well-educated group, you have to meet them on their terms. Offer training resources and mentorships. If you don’t have a company charity that your employees work on together, allow time for employees to pursue their own volunteer projects. Make them part of the team from the outset and let them know that their work is important. And, include their families in work-related activities.

They are not lazy, nor are they opposed to hard work. But they are more altruistic about their work than those of us in the “older generation.” They don’t want to go to work every day because it’s their job and they have to be there. They want to go because they feel a part of something bigger. They want purpose in their work.

It’s a diversion from the way most of us started our careers, but it’s not a bad philosophy. And it might just help grow your business through a greater sense of comradery and social consciousness.