This is part one of two on iGen in the workplace. Part one is the challenges, part two covers the upside of things.
iGen is growing up. And some are even graduating high school as we speak.
And they're deciding what to do with their lives. Which, as we'll discuss is very important to them.
Some have already enrolled in the trades and you might have even seen a few interns on your job site. But, make no mistake, they're about to TAKE. OVER.
What is an iGen (also called GenZ)?
- Born around 1996 and later
- Social media has shaped their life
- Life is about doing something great in the world
- Conservative in nature
- Generally curious & competitive
When it comes to iGen and construction, there are definitely some challenges we face. But,
An industry that's slooooooooow to change
We work in an industry that's incredibly slow to change. One of my favorite charts actually shows that construction productivity has declined over that past few years compared to other industries that have gone up as much as double. So when it comes to forward-thinkers and innovation, the construction industry certainly comes in behind the pack. (You can find that full study by McKinsey&Company here)
What we're saying, here, is that this youngest generation's high-tech lifestyle will definitely be hit with resistance by management. And while it might be exactly what we need in this slow-changing industry, it will be an uphill battle to win over the construction team.
Finding a greater cause (ie, making stewardship a core value)
When the iGen is looking for a job with a construction company, they're going to seek out firms that are already tech-forward and that invest in and give back to the community. They're looking for a socially responsible firm that not only takes care of their employees but also wants to make a positive impact in the world they live in.
In an industry that is centered around building things for the community, you might think it would be easy for a company to make investing in their community a top priority. After all, that's almost what the business already is. But you'll be hard pressed to find a firm that actually calls our stewardship as part of their core values.
iGen is used to communicating at hyper-speed. Social media is the leading cause of this. Today on social media, we can have a quick conversation with someone half way across the world just as easy as we can talk to the guy in the cubicle next to us. AND, most of iGen doesn't even remember a time in their life when social media didn't exist. Let that sink in for a minute. The just expect that they'll be able to communicate this way.
The problem this brings is that we work in an industry that would much rather have a face-to-face conversation opposed to Skype or Facetime. And, I'm willing to bet, this is one (of many) reason why that graph at the top of this page looks the way it does. We know the technology is there, but we're knowingly choosing the harder (and less productive) way to communicate.
Have you ever heard or Slack? This is all the buzz in a world of forward-thinking small businesses. Slack is flipping email upside down, and the people using it are LOVING it, in part because it's much more like using social media than being overrun by hundreds of emails. I can already hear the voice in your head, because I had the same thought - 'that would never work for construction. Job sites are just too complicated for that'. Haha, this is why that graph looks the way it does! Guess what, though? iGen is going to make it happen.
This is really only one side of the coin when we talk about iGen entering the construction workforce. And we have the best part yet to cover - the UPSIDE in all of this! Check out part two of iGen in the workplace.