Mind those Millennials

Hays - Ian Eker
Ian Eker

By Ian Eker, director of construction & property for Hays in Scotland

MANY employers know the importance of retaining good staff, of keeping them incentivised, building loyalty and maintaining productive and harmonious working relationships.

For employers in the construction industry, where there are already staff shortages, this becomes even more important, as a lack of skilled staff can lead to delayed projects, massive inconvenience and increased costs.

However, according to the Hays UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2016, an annual survey of over 20,000 employers and employees in the UK, almost half (46%) of Millennials working in construction anticipate leaving their jobs within the next 12 months, and just under a third (32%) expect to leave within six months.

‘Millennial’ (or Generation Y) is the term given to someone born between 1983 and 1995. With many Millennials now transitioning from junior positions into more senior roles, businesses risk losing these ‘older’ Millennials, now in their early thirties, who are moving into more senior management roles.

This means that construction employers are in danger of losing their newest generation of managers and potential future leaders. At Hays, we know that many construction employers in Scotland are already struggling with severe skill shortages in mid-level roles.

Coupled with too few graduates choosing the profession, the prospect of a mass exodus at this level can be worrying.

It is possible, however, for employers to address the main reasons for this potentially challenging turn of events.

Aside from salary, career development was given as one of the main reasons Millennials expect to leave. A quarter (25%) of this age group stated they wanted to leave their current role due to a lack of future opportunities, suggesting that businesses may need to provide more investment in training and clearer communication around progression.

Career progression is highly important for this group, so businesses should focus on taking a more considered and nuanced approach to incentivising and retaining their newest management generation.

Flexible working is also a priority for this age group, and is rated by 62% of Millennials as the most important benefit when looking for a new role, followed by a generous above 25 days holiday allowance.

As employers are losing their workforce to sabbaticals to extend their holidays and improve their work life-balance, offering these benefits may be another way to retain this part of the workforce.

With site hours often part of the problem, flexible working has historically been seen as more difficult to accommodate in construction than for other industries. However, it’s a strong draw for recruitment and indeed, retention, and we’re beginning to see a change in Scotland. For example, one of our contracting clients is now offering a nine-day fortnight.

It’s worth remembering that it’s 30 years since the term ‘Millennial’ was first coined, and businesses can no longer treat all 21 to 33-years-olds with the same broad brush. The industry faces well-documented difficulties in attracting younger Millennials into the profession, and is quite rightly looking for new ways to make careers in construction appealing for this group. By dissecting the Millennials into mid-managers and new entrants, construction employers will be more likely to make headway in recruiting and retaining top talent and tackle the issue of skill shortages.

For the full report visit http://hays.co.uk/salary-guide/index.htm