As Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) enters the workforce, contractors are beginning to wonder, “What’s the best way to attract this generation of workers to my company?”
Each working generation has misconceptions about another, and there will always be challenges in integrating a new workforce into our construction and contracting businesses—but there are also plenty of opportunities. Generation Z is highly resilient, adaptable and resourceful, having grown up in a world of constant change and disruption. To that end, here are a few considerations as you’re looking to attract this generation to your contracting companies:
1. REIMAGINE RECRUITING
There’s a big shift when it comes to education among Gen Z—61% of Zoomers believe they should only attend college if they know what they want to pursue. This opens up opportunities for early—and alternative—recruitment into the trade industries.
Recruit future employees as early as high school by partnering with your local education institutions to boost awareness of the possibilities of a career in the sector and ensure future employees have appropriate skills prior to onboarding. In addition, consider those who may have taken a nontraditional path into the sector, like hands-on experience through a seasonal job.
2. EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY
Technology is table stakes for interacting with Gen Z. Research where this age group is online—specific social media platforms, where they might be searching for roles—and make it a priority for your company to be there, sharing information about the positions you’re hiring for, the culture and what potential Zoomer employees can expect.
And don’t limit technology to your hiring process. Empowering Zoomers to explore technology solutions that solve construction and contractor industry challenges is a great way to build their trust while potentially improving your business practices. For example, if you leverage technology through online ordering, measuring and modeling software or a form of automation, consider training them on a specific platform to ensure you have a go-to expert.
3. PROACTIVE DEVELOPMENT
Zoomers are generally more career-focused and entrepreneurial in their mindset than their millennial counterparts. They want to learn new skills, and they also want to have autonomy and ownership over their work and their lives. Construction and contracting careers tend to offer more individual autonomy than many other industries, so be sure to highlight this aspect.
There’s a misconception that the only way to secure a successful future is to attend college, and joining the trades inadvertently gets a bad rap as a result. Helping Gen Z understand that the industry is thriving and there’s no shortage of opportunities and career development available to help them hone their skills and create lifelong careers is the first step toward fighting that stigma. Consider partnering with a professional association like Associated Builders and Contractors to ensure that this kind of development is available within your company.
4. BE TRANSPARENT
Generation Z values the stability that comes with a good income. They were raised by Gen X parents who have seen their fair share of economic crises—the housing market crash and the Great Recession. They’ve grown up with a front-row seat to unstable times, so it’s critical for them to have financial security.
Employers can address this need by making sure they’re paying competitive wages—even to the newest people on the team. Having open conversations about salaries, potential growth within the company and the state of the industry can help employees feel confident in not only the stability of their role, but the stability of the industry. This also humanizes the relationship between a company and its employees, which is equally important, as Zoomers want to feel connected to their work.
5. WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Having an appropriate level of work-life balance as a contractor can feel like a challenge—after all, this industry is primarily run by deadlines. However, this balance isn’t a nice-to-have—it’s a need-to-have. Not only does it keep all your crew members happy, healthy and productive, but it can help you retain your crew.
This is especially true with Gen Z workers, who, more than any other generation, are looking to have a life outside of their jobs. Think about the ways you might be able to provide a more flexible workplace. Do crew members have to work weekends? Do you require overtime, or is it optional? Are they able to leave early or rearrange their schedules to attend appointments? Providing this flexibility shows all ages of your crew that you care about their well-being—both on and off the job.
Standing out to Gen Z employees means showing that your company can help them achieve financial stability, keep up with the speed of technological changes and deliver a fair amount of work autonomy. Self-motivated and independent, this generation knows what they want—and our industry can reciprocate by helping them create a path where they can envision a long future in the trades.
For More Information:
ABC Supply Co., Inc. is the largest wholesale distributor of roofing and other select exterior and interior building products in North America. Since its founding in 1982, ABC Supply’s sole focus has been serving professional contractors and “making it easy” for them to do their jobs by offering the products, support and services they need. For more, visit www.abcsupply.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2023
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