One of my best memories from my childhood was watching my father get ready for work each day. He always would say, “Don’t sleep in and let the day escape you. Wake up and be productive so you can feel rewarded before the sun goes down.” I took those words to heart, and I’d like to believe they’ve guided my work ethic through the years.

But a lot has changed since those days. My father would come home at 5 p.m., and that would be the end of his work day. I find that I get home and usually end up checking email well into the evening, and at times, responding to comments on our social media platforms right before I fall asleep. That’s probably not the best practice since we all need to unwind and spend time enjoying the rewards of a productive day, but the truth is, it’s the new world we live in that keeps us connected 24 hours a day.

Enter the millennial.

I just came back from my first NRMCA ConcreteWorks Conference, and although there were plenty of educational sessions on industry-specific topics, the one session that kept a constant buzz was Relating to Generation Y, the Millennial Generation, in the Workplace. There’s been plenty of talk about our aging workforce, as well as the shortage of qualified workers. And it’s no secret that that the millennial generation isn’t showing much interest in the concrete and construction industries. So how do we  solve the problem?

Nadira Hira offered some insight into recruiting and working with the millennial generation. She brought up five key tips:

  • Mission: Millennials want to know the organization they’re in is a good one. One that they can be proud of. Tell them how they can contribute to the overall mission of the organization, and even more important for us, the industry.
  • Team: Talk about work culture in an authentic and meaningful way. With the consistant digital connectivity, millennials are often alone. Their work environment becomes part of their integrated life, and their coworkers become family.
  • Learning: Don’t assume they know everything that is obvious to you. Where generations before grew up relying on intuition, the millennial generation depends on the Internet for immediate answers.
  • Story: Talk about opportunities at your organization with examples using people, not flow charts. They don’t want to know that it will take X amount of years to move up to Y position. Talk about how Joe Concrete started as a driver and how he created his legacy at the organization.
  • Leadership: Provide structure to allow them to grow into leaders.

We must be authentic with how we talk about our industry. Provide an opportunity for this next generation to know that they can be part of something great, and that we are willing to show them how.

What are your thoughts on recruiting and working with the millennial generation? What are some of the obstacles you have come across? I’d love to hear from you.