In today’s construction industry, as well as other industries, we are seeing a blend of generations acting together at a single site or workplace. Many companies have high goals and metrics regarding diversity, which means that they are encouraging and accepting more diverse candidates and workers than ever. But balancing the gap of years between the oldest and youngest generations can be challenging.
This article describes some of those challenges and offers a few practical tips to manage different generations in the construction industry.
Depending on the source, birth date ranges can differ for each generation. But we can identify 5 main generations in the workplace today—Traditionalists (born between 1927 and 1945), Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976), Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1977 and 1995), and Generation Z, iGen or Centennials (born 1996 or later). While each worker leaves his or her own footprint in the workplace, and can stand independently from the characteristics of any group, it is important to understand the circumstances, attitudes and values that influence each generation and their skillsets.
Traditionalists, for example, were raised during the Great Depression and worked mostly for one employer during the span of their careers.
Therefore, they can be very resourceful with minimal tools and are loyal employees.
Comparatively, Baby Boomers, who now find themselves in charge of many construction projects and in managerial positions, often like to drive the work flow and impose their leadership traits. They will commit to extensive work hours and can also fit very well as policy enforcers—safety officers, construction inspectors and skilled crew leaders.
Millennials are also very tech-oriented, and having grown up in a workplace with flexible schedules and remote employment, rely on mobile technology like instant messaging and cloud services to communicate, and are often interested in sustainable strategies like renewable energy, reclaimed products and recycling at the job site.
Generation Z employees rely heavily on technology as well. And because they are entering a workforce that is increasingly being transformed by gig or freelance economy projects, they can be very entrepreneurial and are capable of multitasking between different projects.
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