The construction workforce is made up of a wide variety of age groups. From new professionals just starting their careers to seasoned veterans with decades of experience, you’ll find employees from nearly every generation on the average job-site.
While this diversity is ultimately beneficial, many construction companies struggle to manage generational gaps efficiently. Different communication preferences, work styles, and expectations frequently lead to conflict and misinterpretations.
However, by employing a few simple strategies, construction companies can reduce pain points and help employees of all ages work together seamlessly.
The Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce
Why should your construction company work to foster an inclusive environment for multigenerational employees? As AARP Global Thought Leader Jean Accius writes for Forbes, “Employers have a very real responsibility to support multigenerational employment because it’s in everyone’s best interest, including their own.”
According to AARP, age-diverse workforces:
- Promote stability
- Improve employee retention
- Encourage productivity and innovation
A well-rounded, age-diverse team combines complementary backgrounds, skills, and perspectives.
How to Manage Generational Gaps
Try implementing these strategies if you struggle to coordinate or communicate with a multigenerational workforce.
Standardize Field Reporting
In construction, good communication is essential for managing project progress and keeping crews safe and productive in the field. However, effective, efficient field communication is one of the most challenging aspects of working with diverse age groups.
While not every employee of a certain age will have the same communication preferences as their peers, there are commonalities in how they tend to share and consume information. These preferences can differ wildly from generation to generation.
However, most construction companies can’t afford to use multiple communications channels or duplicate messaging on a busy job-site. Instead, they can invest in software that standardizes the daily reporting process and makes reporting easier and more intuitive for all.
Daily reporting software provides easy-to-understand templates and checklists that field employees can use to collect and record job-site data consistently digitally. Reports can be automatically shared through a cloud storage system without composing separate text messages or emails.
Information from multiple reports is also automatically combined and organized for management without manual data entry. This eliminates the translation errors common with collecting handwritten or Excel-based reports and removes the burden of clear, effective communications from your diverse workforce.
Establish Mentorship Programs
Working in an age-diverse crew, employees will naturally learn from their coworkers. For example, seasoned professionals may teach new employees practical skills on the job, while younger workers might introduce senior employees to modern concepts like work-life balance.
However, to make the most of the diverse experience of your multigenerational workforce, establish a formal mentorship program. Company buy-in encourages employees to participate and shows them that the business values their professional development.
Company stakeholders should create guidelines for formal mentorship. Determine how many work hours should be spent on mentoring each week or month and provide a list of appropriate skills or topics. Help mentors determine the criteria for program approval and completion. You may even consider offering incentives.
Remember that both older and younger employees can be mentors. As long as an employee can teach a viable skill or impart valuable knowledge, they can qualify as a mentor.
Diversity training helps employees relate to their coworkers. Many educational programs specifically cover age diversity.
Providing this kind of education is a simple way to help your workforce evaluate their behavior and better understand how to communicate with another generation. They’ll learn how to avoid unnecessary conflicts based on misunderstandings.
If you have the resources, schedule a formal training in-person or online. If you have a smaller team, you may also be able to provide informal age-diversity training in the form of a toolbox talk.
Conduct Team Building Exercises
Team building exercises build camaraderie and help multigenerational workforces learn to work together outside of the normal pressures of project tasks.
An offsite activity like bowling or a sporting event will relax your team and allow them to learn more about their coworkers than they would on the job. Or, you may prefer to try a simple, easy team-building exercise – like trivia or a brainstorming session – that can be conducted onsite as part of the workday.
Ask for Feedback
There’s no better way to manage your multigenerational workforce than to ask them what they think. While you may have assumptions about what different generations want from their place of employment, you may be surprised.
Seek out employee feedback. Use surveys, questionnaires, or a suggestion box and ask specific questions about how employees prefer to communicate and whether or not they feel that the company understands their needs and tries to accommodate them.
Use the feedback to improve processes and shape future messaging. Make sure to acknowledge all feedback, and even when a request isn’t feasible, provide a reasonable explanation.
Brian Poage is the Senior Solution Sales Manager at Raken. Raken’s comprehensive digital daily reporting app helps construction companies of all sizes improve communication and documentation. With our standardized report templates, photo and video capabilities, checklist library, and in-app messaging system, contractors can quickly capture detailed data from the field and share it with stakeholders in real time.
Raken’s comprehensive digital daily reporting app helps construction companies of all sizes improve communication and documentation. With our standardized report templates, photo and video capabilities, checklist library, and in-app messaging system, contractors can quickly capture detailed data from the field and share it with stakeholders in real-time. Increase productivity and help your crew members of all ages connect seamlessly. Schedule a demo today to learn more.