> FOCUS THE MILLENNIAL DIFFERENCE
“It’s more than a paycheck for them,” Turmail said. “They
will work hard but appreciate when employers recognize work
as a two-way street. Look to them not just to do their job but
ask for their help. Tap their strengths. For instance, they can
coach you on new technologies. They also like researching
things. Let them find solutions to a difficult installation, be
it an innovative approach or available technology they might
just find on You Tube. That’s one search avenue you may have
Organizations work it through
The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), in
concert with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) are on board in wanting to sync today’s workplace
to new generations. The NECA Los Angeles County chapter
(NECA/LA) and IBEW Local No. 11 are using the Net Zero Plus
Electrical Training Institute outside Los Angeles to bridge millennials’ expectations to a future in electrical contracting. By
employing the Net Zero Plus initiative, students train to transform existing and new buildings into high-performance and net
zero, meaning they produce more energy than they use.
“We’ve had a lot of people come in and talk to us and our
instructors about the general differences in a millennial workforce
and the baby boomer generation,” said David Nott, apprentice
coordinator for NECA/LA. “You have to adapt to the workforce
you’re given and make the workplace conflict-free across age
groups. Contractors that have done this have success stories to
share. I would add, millennials going through our training pro-
gram are as motivated as anyone, but they learn differently.”
Nott cited some examples from his apprenticeship program.
He finds millennial-age students can show others the value of
a mobile tablet over a pager; construction-related apps on a
mobile phone; and demonstrate using Excel spreadsheets to
save time in capturing data, inventories and so forth.
“Their comfort with technology allows them to easily acclimate to changes in the electrical contractor’s world, such as the
increasing use of advanced lighting controls,” Nott said.
In tweaking how the institute teaches, Nott added a learning track exposing instructors to different learning traits
based on age.
“In addition, our foreman training tackles generational differences which flow both ways; an older foreman managing a
younger generation of workers or a 30-year-old foreman managing a 50-year-old apprentice,” he said.
The institute has added four hours of course work on financial planning, where students learn how to balance a checkbook
or put money away for savings and retirement.
“These are important soft skills as we observe millennials
living for the moment,” Nott said. “For some, what they earn
as contractors is far more than they’ve earned in the past and
without the need for college loans. Mentoring through money
management is something we think would [be a] benefit.”
Deloitte suggested deeper retention tactics such as housing-purchase assistance programs or credit and home ownership
counseling. For millennials that are changing careers or returning to the workforce, student debt may weigh heavily. For those
dealing with debt, a value-added asset to their jobs could be
advice on next steps. Plus, financial mentoring is one way to
build a sense of community between employee and employer.
Finally, look at how this generation is comfortable with
online learning. For NECA/LA, some apprentice homework is
computer-based. Class notifications are online as is students’
reporting of their hours.
“Our apprenticeship program is dually represented by IBEW
and NECA,” Nott said. “So, as we advance how we teach and what
we teach, we confer with both organizations. NECA contractors
learn of our changes and how we train and take note for their
shops. Their own shared observations working with millennials
also helps inform how and what we teach. Delivering constructive criticism so it’s heard constructively is one example.”
Sometimes the biggest selling point in keeping millennials
engaged is pointing out your company’s successes. Look for
the projects that make headlines or those that engage in technology, alternative energy, or lighting used to promote health
or productivity. Millennials want to go to a job where they
take some ownership and have an influence. Nott said students
often have no idea the impact electrical contracting can have
Want to keep reading about this topic? The November 2015 issue
of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR featured “The Fight Against Invisibility,” which offered strategies to attract millennial jobhunters
and break the paradox of ample trade jobs but few qualified
workers. Stephen Carr wrote about employing and working with
millennials in his February and March 2016 estimating columns.
Both can be found on
GAVI N, LEED Green Associate, is the owner of Gavo
Communications, a sustainability-focused marketing services firm
serving the energy and construction industries. He can be reached
Millennials are as motivated as anyone but may learn differently,
and employers need to understand those differences.
Continued from page 46